Everything You Need to Know About Cooking Flounder

A little help, so you don't flounder in the kitchen (sorry, we had to).

Flounder is a versatile, easy-to-prepare fish fillet with a mildly sweet flavor and delicate, flaky texture. This firm-fleshed white fish can be baked, sautéed, stuffed, and poached. Flounder is so delicious and readily available that it has even become a Christmas tradition in certain parts of the South.

Adding more fish to your family's diet has proven health benefits, and you can substitute flounder for tilapia, grouper, or catfish in your favorite weeknight seafood recipe. Before you purchase flounder for an easy supper, let's go over a few pointers on buying and storing flounder fillets to help you cook the best fish dinner possible.

How To Choose Flounder

Use your senses when purchasing fresh fish at the market. Does the fillet glisten? Is it nestled in plenty of ice? Most importantly, ask to smell everything you buy. Fish should never have a fishy or ammonia odor. It should smell salty and clean, just like the sea.

Fillets of flaky white fish, such as flounder, should be firm to the touch. Avoid any fillets with an oily sheen, excessive "gapping" in the flesh, or any laying in standing water.

How To Store Flounder Fillets

Unless you plan to cook fresh fish the day you bring it home from the market, you should keep it on ice, even in the refrigerator.

Place a cooling rack inside a container––a roasting pan works nicely. You should elevate the rack inside the container. If the rack doesn't have legs, make aluminum foil balls and place them underneath it at all four corners. Add crushed ice to the pan––you want the ice level to fall just beneath the rack but not touch the fish.

Remove the fish from the store packaging, rinse under cold water, and dry the fillets with paper towels. Next, place the fish on the rack (don't let the individual pieces touch or overlap), and don't let the fish touch the ice. Seal the container with two or three layers of plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate. If you store the fish for more than one day, replace the ice as it melts and pour off the water.

How To Thaw Frozen Flounder

Eating frozen fish is sometimes a more convenient and budget-friendly option than buying fresh, and you will want to defrost it with the same care as any other frozen food. The most efficient and safest way to defrost fish is to do it overnight in the refrigerator. Place the frozen fish package on a plate in the fridge before you head off to bed, and the fish will thaw by the next day.

How To Cook Flounder

When preparing to cook thawed flounder, remove the fillets from the packaging, rinse and pat dry with paper towels, then proceed with your chosen recipe. If your fish has been on ice in the refrigerator, remove it from the rack and begin cooking.

There are many ways you can serve fish for a family supper. Whether you have a taste for fish tacos, a fish-and-vegetable skillet supper, or a fried fish sandwich, flounder is your go-to fillet of choice. For a simple yet elegant and impressive seafood dinner, pan-sear flounder fillets and serve your guests in under 40 minutes.

For a recipe-free method for preparing fish, you can cook your flounder fillet with just oil, salt, and pepper or your favorite seasoning blend. Pat the fillet dry and place it into a well-seasoned cast-iron or nonstick skillet with a few tablespoons of heated oil, butter, or other fat. Turn the pieces only once―the first side down gets the crispest. You don't need to turn baked or broiled fillets at all. To check for doneness, slip a small knife under the fish and gently lift it. When fully cooked, the fillet will begin to flake and break open, changing in color from translucent to opaque.

Best Flounder Recipes for Dinner

Here are a few of our favorite flounder recipes or fish dinners that flounder would make an excellent substitute for to make the next time you don't know what's for dinner.

01 of 05

Buttermilk-Fried Nashville Hot Fish Sandwich

Buttermilk-Fried Nashville Hot Fish Sandwich
Stephen DeVries; Prop Styling: Thom Driver; Food Styling: Mary Claire Britton

Recipe: Buttermilk-Fried Nashville Hot Fish Sandwich

There's nothing quite like a crispy fish sandwich. This recipe turns up the flavoring by using cayenne pepper for a fiery kick. You'll love this fish sandwich that tastes like your favorite restaurant-style version but is homemade.

02 of 05

Fish Tacos and Topping Bar

Fish Tacos and Topping Bar
Greg DuPree

Recipe: Fish Tacos and Topping Bar

Taco Tuesday gets a fishy makeover, which is a good thing. Chop your favorite toppings and set up a DIY taco bar for your family. Try making this recipe's Asian Slaw for a sweet, tangy addition to your flaky fish.

03 of 05

Simple Pan-Seared Fish

Simple Pan-Seared Fish
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Recipe: Simple Pan-Seared Fish

In under 40 minutes, you can have a pan-seared fish dinner that looks like something out of a cooking magazine. This fish dinner is a nutritious alternative to most other meals when short on time. Adding the honey-mustard vinaigrette drizzle brightens and completes the dish.

04 of 05

Almond-Crusted Fish

Almond-Crusted Tilapia
Ralph Anderson; Styling: Buffy Hargett

Recipe: Almond-Crusted Tilapia

Substitute flounder for tilapia in this almond-crusted dish. You have a crispy, flakey, delicious fish dinner with only six ingredients. Make sure your skillet is large enough to fit your chosen fish fillet.

05 of 05

Classic Fish Amandine

Classic Trout Amandine
Southern Living

Recipe: Classic Trout Amandine

Create this fish dinner with mostly pantry staples. A fish made "with almonds," rich browned butter sauce tops the fried filets. Lemon, Worcestershire sauce and parsley combine to be a wonderful mix of flavors.

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