Fishing has not been as good as most hoped this June. Striped bass, ordinarily pretty easy to find this time of year, have been more elusive than usual and fishing for blues has been hit and miss. Maybe it’s the lunar cycle. The annual strawberry moon, so named by the Algonquians to designate the full beacon that lights the sky in late June and signals that the berries are ripe, coincided with the summer solstice this year. That hasn’t happened since 1967. That year, like this one, was a time of political and social upheaval. Is there a connection? No way to know. One thing is sure, though (and a bit of consolation) — the strawberries have been sweet the last couple of weeks. Here’s hoping they linger awhile the way the asparagus has this year.

The lunar cycle might be what’s frustrating fishermen, or it might be that it is time for a change. Island favorites swordfish and bass, while not designated endangered, are certainly at risk if we don’t curb our enthusiasm. Fluke, on the other hand, is plentiful and very worthy of a place on summer tables. It is a delicious white meat fish. It is more delicate than the perennial favorites, but it is by the same token much more versatile. Try it, and the next time you cook, fluke may be your first choice rather than a fill-in for a missing star.

Catch of fluke is unloaded on Menemsha dock. — Mark Lovewell

So what is a fluke (also known as summer flounder and locally as Vineyard sole)? It is a flat fish, part of a big group, with 11 families and 500 species worldwide. Halibut, turbot, as well as soles and various flounders are among the tribe. Fluke is one of 130 species native to this country. Because there are so many flat fish varieties, identifying and naming different types can get tricky, but a few things are certain. Fluke is a type of flounder and has the distinctive skeleton structure common to all its relations. Rather than a barrel-shaped frame, flat fish are built in a way that allows them to hide easily on a sandbar by simply lying on the bottom or shimmying down a bit so all that a predator can see are their eyes — which face up, both on the same side. Most flat fish have eyes on the right side of their head but fluke are “left-eyed fish.” They are the only left-looking flounder in North America.

Some flat fish have teeth and some do not. Fluke are toothy — which allows them a rich diet of crustaceans and small fish. This makes them especially sweet. They are called summer flounder because during the warm weather they come in to coastal waters up and down the East Coast. (Fluke winter off shore, preferring depths of 150 to 500 feet.) They are not hard to hook in July and August because they are at hand and are fairly indiscriminate eaters; they are also fun to catch because they are scrappy, putting up more fight then their right-eyed cousins. Best of all, at a time when it is hard to eat fish without worrying about the long-term impact of your choice, fluke are thriving. Conservation efforts organized over 20 years ago by local commercial fishermen and focused on discouraging out of state draggers have successfully protected this flounder. You can feel good about eating this tasty fish.

Whether you catch a fluke yourself or buy Vineyard sole at the market, they are a treat (and happily not a particularly expensive one). They do deserve to be handled with care. Which brings us to the subject of cooking. Fluke can be prepared many ways. Open a French cookbook and you will find pages of recipes for sole. They will be just as delicious made with fluke. A simple and terrific way to go is fluke meuniere which simply involves sauteeing lightly floured filets, then making a pan sauce of brown butter, flavored with capers and lemon — so classic and so very good. That’s the trick with excellent fish, you don’t have to do much and are sometimes best off exercising restraint. Very much to that point, consider doing as the Japanese and Italians do and eat your fluke raw. Fluke crudo is wonderful. Just use a sharp knife and slice a fresh filet thinly, arrange the fluke on plates, season with sea salt, good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice and then top with some fresh cilantro, shiso, or chervil, and maybe some shaved fennel or a few “needle asparagus” (the leggy buds) if you can find them. You’ll have a sophisticated and impressive dish in minutes.

Fluke is great many different ways and the best news of all: Vineyard sole, unlike asparagus and strawberries (and hopefully our current political fractiousness) are staying for the summer. You’ll have plenty of time to cook filets every which way, or not at all. Enjoy this subtle and sometimes overlooked fish, but be sure, at some point this season, to give shooting down the middle a try. Fluke ceviche, “cooked” without heat, is ridiculously easy to make and amazingly refreshing, perfect for when the first really hot days finally hit.

Fluke ceviche

Serves 4 

We adapted this recipe from The Covington Restaurant’s opening menu.

1 lb skinless fluke filet
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup diced cucumber (save the remaining cucumber to make ribbons, see below)
1 blood orange, peeled and cut into segments
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus additional for finishing)
Sea salt (for finishing)
¼ cup picked cilantro leaves
Cucumber ribbons cut with a vegetable peeler

Using a sharp knife, cut the fluke into quarter-inch strips, then dice into cubes and put into a bowl. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, a healthy pinch of kosher salt, the lime juice, jalapeno, diced cucumber, the blood orange segments and the olive oil, then toss gently but thoroughly. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning with salt or lime juice as necessary. Spoon the ceviche onto cold plates, then garnish with a sea salt, cilantro leaves, another drizzle of olive oil and the cucumber ribbons.

Chris Fischer is chef at The Covington restaurant in Edgartown. His 2015 Beetlebung Farm Cookbook won a James Beard award for American cooking. Catherine Young collaborates with him on writing and recipes.