Flounder

This month I am going to talk about cooking another popular and delicious fish, flounder. Now if you are like me you might only catch a few a year, if you’re lucky.

Hopefully you have a nice secret spot or know how to gig at night. If you don’t have great flounder catching skills your local seafood purveyor will readily have them available year round.

Flounder can be prepared numerous ways but today I’m going to focus on preparing the fish once it’s filleted.
Once you have your fresh caught or store bought flounder the first step is remove the head. Just follow the lines on the flounder as your guide.

Next remove the guts and scale it well. From this point you can cook a flounder whole if that’s how you want to prepare it. Take your whole, cleaned fish and fillet it. Follow the lateral line, which is easiest for a novice or you can take off both fillets and leave them intact. Either way is fine.

Whichever method you use just do both sides of the fish. The fillets from the bottom tend to be a bit smaller than the top side.  Flounder skin is delicious cooked but for this dish we are going to remove it.

You technically don’t need to scale it if you are taking off the skin but it’s easier when filleting it. Skin it like you would any other fish. On both sides of a flounder you will get 2 fillets each (a big fillet and a small fillet).

Next cut the middle bony section of the flounder out where the lateral line is. The smaller fillet has a little bony section at the top. Just feel your fillets well because no one likes eating bones. Reserve the fillets. From this point they can be prepared any way you like.

Today I’m preparing a simple crab stuffed flounder. Now for the stuffing get a bowl, Ritz crackers or panko bread crumbs, Dukes mayonnaise, juice of 1 lemon, Old bay, 1 egg yolk, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire, and 1LB crab meat. If you want to use fresh blue crabs go for it but if not you can get a wide variety of canned crab that is delicious.

First step is squeezing all the juice out of the crabmeat and picking out the visible shell fragments.   Next add to a bowl with all the other ingredients. Mix well and reserve.

Divide your mixture into 4-5 ounce balls (about the size of a lime). This recipe makes about 4-6 servings. Now get your Flounder fillets and wrap the fish around the ball. Generally 2 small fillets will wrap around a ball or 1 big fillet per ball.

Use bamboo skewers to hold the fish in place and make an X with the skewers to make sure the ends don’t unravel. Season the outside with salt and pepper. Make a small divot in the stuffing and add a pat of butter on top and finish with a light dusting of paprika.

Place the fish in a baking dish where the fish isn’t touching. In a small bowl mix equal parts water and white wine and pour in the bottom of the baking dish. The liquid should come up between 1/4 -1/3 way up the fish.

Bake at 375°F for about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. The top should be golden brown. A way to tell if the stuffing is hot is to remove a skewer and feel it in the middle (it should be warm). I like to finish it with Beurre Blanc (lemon butter sauce).

The Details:

Crab Stuffed Flounder with a Lemon Butter Sauce

Ingredients for Crab Stuffing:

1# Crab Meat- squeezed and deshelled

1 Cup Ritz Crackers or Panko Bread Crumbs- crushed

1 tsp- Worcestershire

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Cup Dukes Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk

1 pinch salt

1 tsp Old Bay

1 pinch Cayenne Pepper

Ingredients for Lemon Butter Sauce:

2 cups White Wine

½ pound unsalted Butter

½ cup Heavy Cream

2 Shallots- Diced

2 sprigs Tarragon

1 Lemon

Salt and Pepper

Method of Preparation for Flounder and Stuffing:

1.  Mix all ingredients for the crab stuffing in a bowl and make into a small ball about the size of a big lime.  Yields about 6-8 depending on how big you want them

2.  Get all your flounder fillets prepped and ready.  2 whole flounders will make 6 portions

Now get your Flounder fillets and wrap the fish around the ball.  Generally 2 small fillets will wrap around a ball or 1 big fillet per ball.  Use bamboo skewers to hold the fish in place and make an X with the skewers to make sure the ends don’t unravel.

3.  Season the outside with salt and pepper.

4.  Make a small divot in the stuffing and add a pat of butter on top and finish with a light dusting of paprika.

5.  Place the fish in a baking dish where the fish isn’t touching.

6.  In a small bowl mix equal parts water and white wine and pour in the bottom of the baking dish.  The liquid should come up between 1/4 -1/3 way up the fish.

7.  Bake at 375°F for about 10-15 minutes depending on your oven.  The top should be golden brown.  A way to tell if the stuffing is hot is to remove a skewer and feel it in the middle (it should be warm).

Method of Preparation for the Beurre Blanc (lemon butter sauce):

1.  Add Wine, diced Shallots, and whole sprigs of Tarragon to a sauce pan

2.  Cook on medium heat until the wine is reduced but not dry in the bottom of the pot.

3.  Add the heavy cream until it is reduced but not completely dry.  It will have thickened look to it.  Take off the heat at this time.

4. Get cold unsalted butter and cut into about 1 inch cubes and put your pan back on low heat.  This is where it gets a little tricky.  Slowly start to stir the cold butter in a few pieces at a time.

Let them almost melt in the sauce before adding more butter.  You want it to be not too hot or not too cold but warm.  If it gets too hot or too cold your sauce will start to separate.

This sauce cannot be left unattended when you start adding the butter.  So once you have all the butter in the pan I like to stick my finger to feel if it’s warm.  If its too cool, heat it just a little more.

If it’s too hot to the touch take off the heat and add a little more cold butter.  Once fully melted and warm to the touch, strain the sauce into a small bowl or cup.

5.  Add fresh squeezed lemon and salt

6. This sauce needs to be kept warm so do not make too far ahead of time.  I would start it about the same time you begin getting your stuffing ready.

– Chef Kyle Kryske is a native of Pascagoula, MS. Kyle has resided in Charleston for 15 years & has been cooking in restaurants for 18 years. He has worked in MS, AK, NC, and SC. and is Chef de Cuisine at Coast Restaurant in Charleston. Kyle is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University. When he is not working he is either inshore or offshore fishing.

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