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Sautéed New England Flounder,
Venetian Style
By Charlie Burke

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Marcella Hazan, in her eponymous book “Marcella’s Italian Kitchen”, describes
Sfogi in Soar, fried sole fillets marinated in vinegar, onions, raisins and pine
nuts. Served at room temperature after being marinated for at least twelve
hours, it is a must at feasts in Venice. The fish, dusted in flour, is deep fried, and
then placed into a deep bowl. Onions are sautéed in olive oil with sugar and
salt until dry and golden and diluted vinegar is then boiled and poured over
the fish, along with the onions, raisins and pine nuts. Marinated for at least
twelve hours, the sole is served at room temperature and is one of Venice’s
celebrated dishes.

Sfogi, like Dover sole, is among the finest flatfish, firm and sweet. Flatfish are all
excellent fish, although flounder are soft and do not hold together like Dover
sole and, presumably, Sfogi. Flounder, however, is sweet and tender, and
makes for an excellent meal. I decided to use the Venetian model to cook local
flounder. I did not want to follow the traditional recipe because it requires so
much time, but I thought I could use this recipe to make a Venetian rendition to
capture the essence of this recipe.

For four:

1 pound sole fillets
1 cup flour, with salt and pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
One shallot, chopped fine
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup wine vinegar plus 3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons pine nuts, walnuts or uncooked pumpkin seeds

Film a sauté pan with olive oil over medium-high heat
Soak raisins in 1/3 cup of warm water
Dredge the sole fillets in flour, to which salt and pepper have been added
Sauté the fillets until barely cooked through
Remove to a plate
Add olive oil to film pan, if needed
Sautee shallots with salt and sugar until soft and lightly browned
Turn heat to high and add vinegar and water
Add drained raisins and nuts and reduce until sauce is thickened
Put fillets into pan and heat through.

Serve fillets with onion, raisin, and shallot sauce atop. Rice and a green
vegetable will go well with the fish. Serve a dry white wine, such as Sauvignon
Blanc or a great Sancerre from the Loire to perfectly complement this meal.

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer'sMarket Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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