Flounder-Wrapped Asparagus with Orange Butter Sauce

My, don’t we sound fancy tonight.  Looks fancy too, but it’s pretty quick and easy to put together.  Absolutely doable for a weeknight dinner party or last minute dinner date.  Very elegant.  I served it with some fresh spinach sauteed with garlic.  A few strawberries for dessert and you have another Spring dinner that’s really worth writing about.

This took about 30 minutes to pull together.  You wrap the fish fillets around the asparagus stalks and roast them in the oven while you make the sauce.  Easy peasy.  Just one note about wrapping the asparagus.  Put the fillets on the cutting board or counter right side up and lay the asparagus across them.  That way when you roll them up the “skin side” (in quotes because the skin should have been removed so it’s really the ‘used-to-have-skin side) will be on the outside.  The fish will hold together better that way and your rolls will be prettier for serving.  I used red onion instead of shallots because it’s what I had in the house.  Close enough.  The sauce was supposed to be tangerine beurre blanc.  Two things about that:  the Kroger didn’t have any tangerines today and the Clementines only came in a big bag so I settled for oranges; and I was too lazy to make a real beurre blanc so I settled for butter sauce.  Not much of a sacrifice.  It was really good.

These flavors are so lovely and so delicate.  Flounder is such a mild fish that you can really taste the asparagus.  The butter sauce is smooth and rich and slightly sweet and a little salty and a lot yummy with just a tiny touch of cayenne heat.  Be careful about that.  If you use too much cayenne you won’t be able to taste anything else.

It’s just wonderful, really.  Keep this in mind the next time you want to serve a light dish that is tres elegante.  It’s sure to impress.

Good? So very good.
Easy? So very easy.
Good for company? A lovely presentation.
Special shopping? Nope. All regular ingredients.

Flounder-Wrapped Asparagus with Orange Butter Sauce

Ingredients

For fish

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
4 (2- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
1 lb medium asparagus
4 flounder fillets

For butter sauce

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
cayenne
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Directions

Prepare fish:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

Brush a 13- by 9-inch roasting pan with some of melted butter, then 1/2 of the onions and zest in pan.

Trim asparagus to about 7 inches long.

Arrange fish fillets, skinned sides up, on a work surface and season with salt and pepper. Lay 4-6 asparagus spears, depending on their size, perpendicularly across 1 fillet and wrap fish around them to make a bundle. Repeat with remaining fillets and asparagus. Transfer bundles, seam sides down, to roasting pan and brush fish with remaining melted butter. Season with salt and pepper, then add water to pan. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake until fish is just cooked through and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 20 minutes.

Make beurre blanc while fish bakes:
Boil orange juice with remaining onion in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low, then whisk in 1 tablespoon butter, whisking constantly. Add remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly, adding each piece before previous one has completely melted, and lifting pan from heat occasionally to cool mixture. Remove from heat and stir in salt, cayenne, and lime juice.

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