Tarragon apple cider brine for fish with firm, white flesh: flounder, halibut, walleye, perch

May 1st, 2015 by | 1

Not all good food takes hours of preparation and days to brine and finish. This meal cooks in the time it takes to boil potatoes. Brining the fish in the tarragon apple cider vinegar brine takes just 10 minutes, and the fish is baked 10 minutes at 450 degrees until it is firm to the touch, just beginning to flake and an internal temperature of 135 degrees. Spring is the time to eat local asparagus.

Tarragon apple cider vinegar brine:

Allow the tarragon, garlic and clove to steep in the vinegar overnight at room temperature.

In this case, your correspondent used 2 pounds of flounder filets. The fish will brine 10 minutes in a 1 gallon ZipLock-brand plastic bag on the counter. Fold the thin parts of the filets over so the fish is the same thickness from one end of the filets to the other. Arrange the filets side-by-side in the bag and place a weight on the brining fish to ensure penetration of the brine. I use a cooling rack and place a second plastic bag of water on top of the rack.

About an hour before you intend to serve the meal, bring water sufficient to cover the potatoes to a roiling boil. As the water heats, wash, peel and cut potatoes as needed; skip the peeling if you want. I use one cup of potato for each plate, if I do not want leftovers. For this meal, I cooked 2 pounds of potatoes and 2 bunches of asparagus; each bunch is about 4 servings. I like to cut the potatoes into pieces equal to 2-3 bites; quarter a medium sized potato. Finely chop fresh parsley to season the potatoes to taste: 1/2 cup of chopped parsley for 2 pounds.

In a separate pot, bring sufficient water to cover the asparagus to a roiling boil. The asparagus will cook until just fork tender: about 5 minutes in the water or 10 minutes if you steam it over the water. Put the asparagus in the water after you put the fish in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

About 10 minutes after dropping the potatoes into the boiling water, put the filets in the brine; 10 minutes later, remove the filets from the brine and arrange in a single layer in a greased sheet-cake pan.

When the potatoes are fork-tender, pour off the water and toss with chopped parsley.

Place the fish in the oven. Fish does not benefit from resting after it is removed from the oven as do beef, pork, lamb, venison and fowl. Resting allows the juices to redistribute before the meat is cut. Fish is best served immediately.

Drop the asparagus into the boiling water. Remove when fork tender at the thick end.

Salt and pepper to taste; serve immediately. Kate has already asked me to prepare this meal again.


I've been an investigative reporter for more than 40 years and taught journalism at the college level for another 10. I've owned and trained retrievers, pointers and spaniels for about the same amount of time. My love of the outdoors and interest in cooking, eating and libations has been life-long, starting on my family's farm in Indiana and the hearty home-cooked meals there.

One response to “Tarragon apple cider brine for fish with firm, white flesh: flounder, halibut, walleye, perch”

  1. Donna says:

    Tried the tarragon fish recipe last night. Yummy!
    As a non-fish lover, it gets my highest praise in…it does not taste like fish.
    We used mahi mahi but will try it again with different fish.
    Thanks Bill

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