Elegant and fast, pan-seared flounder is an easy weeknight meal to pull together without a hassle. What sells this dish to my family is its crisp, browned crust. The key to crisp perfection is to make sure the fillets are extra dry by patting them with paper towels and dusting them with just a tiny bit of flour. You may be tempted to pull out your nonstick skillet, but to get that crisp crust you’re better off with a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan. Any white fish fillet works in this recipe, so go with what looks good and is priced best.
Yes, per this recipe, a dusting of flour does make for a swell crust on fish fillets. But there’s an editor here at LC (ahem) who can attest that flour isn’t essential for a lovely sear. She sizzles up flounder fillets for supper quite frequently, and they never, ever come in contact with a flour coating. It’s just not necessary. There’s no trick to it at all. No gluten, either.
Actually, there is a trick, but it has nothing to do with gluten. The catch is that you’re not going to find fresh flounder for $10 a pound, at least not in Manhattan. This nifty little weeknight number is definitely worth a few extra hard-earned dollars if you do have fresh flounder available, although it also works with any thin, mild, white-fleshed fish. Think wild sea bass, snapper, catfish, tilapia, and so on. Though it may be tempting, don’t substitute thawed frozen fish, as it’ll throw off quite a lot of moisture during cooking, destroying that lovely crisp crust.
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- Serves 4
- 4 4- to 6-ounce, 1/2-inch-thick flounder fillets (fresh, not frozen)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon or so all-purpose flour (optional)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 slices
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, or flat-leaf parsley