We are living in such unprecedented times where the entire world is in lockdown. For us in Singapore, we are just in our 5th day of a real lockdown, though the government likes to use the euphemism ‘circuit breaker’. I would rather call it what it is — a lockdown. And we should call it that to convey the sense of urgency and importance of this situation…a sense of urgency that many around us don’t seem to grasp. With every passing day, we hear more bad news and get more anxious and try to do what we can to help ourselves and our communities get through this awfully trying time. Every night, I hear the news and listen to politicians turning this into political issues when we really should be coming together in our shared humanity to work through this. Even my usual optimism is tested now. But I know everyone is saturated with bad news now, and adding to the ranting and woeful news does not help. So I shall stop right here.
If there is one thing this Covid situation has imposed upon us is to cook at home much more than ever. So just before lockdown, I happened to be at the neighborhood supermarket and found this wonderful, large flounder, glistening with freshness and fat with meat. So I bought it home to try baking it.
Now, in those days long ago when we could go out, I loved ordering baked lemon sole at restaurants. I enjoy how it is baked and served whole, and carved tableside, dripping with butter tinged with the zesty flavours of lemon and capers. But it is often expensive – well over $130 usually. With this sole at less than $10, there was no reason to hesitate. I bagged it and brought it home. That afternoon, the government declared a lockdown.
Just yesterday, I dug out some capers and butter from the fridge, got a purple onion and heaved out the aluminium foil, and made this baked flounder for dinner. We served it with ratatouille and rice, but only after a round of pre-dinner lychee martinis. It was incredibly easy to do. So much so that when the pandemic is finally over and we can all crawl out of hiding again, I will never order baked lemon sole in restaurants again, when it is something I can do so easily and cheaply.
Baked Flounder with Lemon, Capers and Butter
1 large sole or flounder, approx 1kg
2-3 Tbsp capers
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 -4 shallots or 1 medium purple onion, chopped
4-5 spring onions, sliced into 2cm lengths
1 tsp cumin seeds
Juice of 1/2 lemon or large lime
Salt & pepper to taste
Clean and gut the fish.
Pat dry and lay it on a pan lined with aluminium foil.
Make six diagonal slits on the thickest parts of the meat, three on the top and three on the lower half, but without cutting through the fish.
Combine all the remaining ingredients and whisk to blend it well.
Pour it onto the fish, and rub it all over well. push some of the garlic and onions into the slits on the fish.
Wrap the fish in the foil , leaving a medium-sized opening (about 3cm x 10cm) at the top for the steam to escape somewhat.
Bake at 200ºC for 45 mins. If you like, sprinkle with grated lime or lemon zest and serve.