While the rest of the country seems to be embracing every exotic and trendy fish from Arctic char to Moroccan tuna to Chilean sea bass, flounder is what Southerners still perceive as the ideal fish to simply broil with lemon and butter, stuff with all sorts of shellfish, flavored rice, and vegetables, or gently sauté with a creamy wine sauce. This particular dish, which might also be made with small red snapper, sole, and even trout fillets, can be prepared literally in a matter of minutes. What’s equally appealing is that it lends itself to endless experimentation with whatever ingredients you have in the kitchen—chopped ripe tomatoes or leeks, minced garlic or chile peppers, other nuts and wild mushrooms, fresh broccoli florets or diced asparagus, raisins or capers, and all sorts of herbs and spices. Frankly, I’ve never understood how food snobs can consider flounder a boring fish, given its amazing versatility.
In a small skillet, melt
On a plate, combine the flour and salt and pepper and mix till well blended. Dredge the fish fillets lightly in the mixture and place on another plate. In a large skillet, melt the remaining butter over moderate heat, add the floured fillets, and sauté 2 minutes on one side. Turn the fillets over, scatter the mushrooms on top and around the sides, and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the wine and fennel, cook 1 minute longer, then pour on the cream, stirring gently but taking care not to break up the fish. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the fish rest in the cooking liquid several minutes.
To serve, transfer the fillets to a heated serving platter, reduce the sauce over moderately high heat till just thickened, about 3 minutes, pour the mushrooms and sauce over the fish, and scatter pecans over the top. Serve hot.
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