The flounder family is made up of many species of fish. In the United States, East Coast varieties include gray sole (also called witch flounder), winter flounder (also called blackback), American plaice (also called dab or sand dab), yellowtail flounder (also called dab or rusty flounder), summer flounder (also called fluke), and southern flounder. West Coast varieties include petrale sole, sand sole, English sole, Rex sole, Pacific sand dab, Dover sole (not to be confused with the English fish of the same name), and California flounder. True Dover sole comes from England, and sand sole from France.
Most flounders are small, and thus the fish is generally sold whole, fresh or frozen, trimmed of head and fin bones. The larger varieties may be available as fillets—also known as quarters—or halves, which are two fillets connected by a thin strip of gristle.
Preparation, Uses, & Tips
To fillet, insert the blade of a sharp knife on one side behind the head and cut in an arc down to the bone. Then score the flesh along the sides and across the tail. Finally, insert the knife behind the head and slip the knife along rib cage, cutting the fillet away from the ribs. A large flatfish produces two fillets on each side. To skin the fillet, place it skin-side down on a board. Starting from the tail, slide a sharp knife between the skin and the flesh.
The secret to successful flounder cookery is to not overcook. Whichever of the following cooking methods you choose, your flounder will be cooked when its flesh becomes opaque but is still moist and is easily pierced with a fork.
Place flounder in a greased baking dish, or wrap in oiled foil and place on a baking sheet. Brush the fish with melted butter or oil and season with salt and pepper, or cover with a piquant sauce. Bake in a preheated 450°F (230°C) oven until done, about ten minutes for each inch of thickness.
Rinse flounder fillets and pat dry with a paper towel. Place fish on a rack above a baking dish. Preheat the broiler and adjust oven rack so fish is 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10cm) from the element. Broil, turning once, until fish is opaque but still moist in the center, about three to ten minutes, depending on size of the fish.
Coat flounder with seasoned flour, crumbs, or cornmeal. Shake off any extra coating and fry in a small amount of hot butter or oil, turning once halfway through cooking time. Cook until fish is opaque and moist on the inside, about four to eight minutes.
Pour oil into a wok or deep fryer; it should be at least 1 1/2 inches deep, and the cooker should be less than half full of oil. Heat oil to 375° F (190°C), using a thermometer to monitor temperature. Cut boneless strips into similar-sized pieces about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch (3 to 3.8cm) thick. Dip in batter, drain, and then slip pieces into hot oil. Cook until brown, about two to three minutes.
Bring poaching liquid, consisting of water, broth, herbs, and spices, to a simmer. Slip in the flounder, then cover the pan and keep the liquid at a simmer for about eight minutes per inch (2.5cm) of thickness.
Keep flounder cool on the trip from the market to your house. Never let it stay unrefrigerated for long. To store flounder, remove packaging, rinse the fish under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Fish deteriorates when it sits in its own juices, so place it on a cake rack in a shallow pan filled with crushed ice. Cover with cling wrap or foil and set in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Flounder will store well this way for up to two days. When well-wrapped, flounder can be frozen for up to two months in a refrigerator and for three to four months in a deep-freeze. Using lined freezer paper, wrap the fish tightly from head to tail with at least two layers of paper. To thaw the fish slowly, unwrap, place in a pan, cover, and leave for 24 hours in the refrigerator. To thaw more quickly, place the whole fish, wrapped in a watertight bag, in a sink with cool running water, allowing about 30 minutes per pound (450g). For fastest thawing, use the defrost cycle of your microwave, allowing two to five minutes per pound (450g) with equal standing time in between zaps (as one minute defrost to one minute resting).
Flounder, 1 fillet (4.5 oz.) (127.35g) (cooked, dry heat)
- Calories: 148
- Protein: 30.7g
- Carbohydrate: 0.0g
- Total Fat: 1.9g
- Fiber: 0.0g