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

With a mild sweet flavor and delicate flaky texture, flounder is a versatile, easy-to-prepare fillet of fish. This firm-fleshed white fish can be baked, sautéed, stuffed, and poached. Flounder is so delicious and readily available 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.

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 briny and clean, just like the sea.

Fillets of white flaky 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. The rack should be elevated inside the container; if the rack doesn't have legs, make aluminum foil balls and place 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 touching the fish.

Remove the fish from the store packaging, rinse under cold water, and dry the fillets with paper towels. 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

Purchasing 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 you do any other frozen food. The most efficient and safest way to defrost fish is to do it overnight in the refrigerator. Place the frozen package of fish on a plate in the refrigerator before you head off to bed and it will be thawed 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, just 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 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. Baked or broiled fillets don't need to be turned at all. To check for doneness, slip a small knife under the fish and gently lift. When fully cooked, the fillet will begin to flake and break open, changing in color from translucent to opaque.