I grew up fishing for flounder. I spent countless hours in my youth bouncing bait and lures along the bottom of Delaware Bay with visions in my head of bringing home a doormat sized flounder. I never actually caught one that big, but I did haul in a few dinner plate sized fish.
Delaware Bay flounder aren't always easy to find. A day of floundering could end up with disappointment, but it could also conclude with a damned fine dinner. That's why they are such sought after sport fish back there.
Now the Puget Sound is my home waters, and here flounder aren't nearly so sought after. Which is a pity, because Puget Sound is LOADED with various flatfish. When you are on top of them, the bite is constant. I've dropped my GoPro down in traps to get crabbing videos, and seen flounder swarming around the outside of those crab pots.
All right, the flounder here don't get doormat sized. I'm not even sure dinner plate sized are often in the cards. Still, I have caught some respectable sized ones here, even when I was targeting smaller ones to use as bait. And they are every bit as tasty as their East Coast cousins.
OK, I can hear my old buddies from back home goofing on the size of our flounder. Just remember guys, we've also got halibut here, which could go Hulk Smash on anything the Delaware Bay has to offer.
Finding flatfish is relatively universal. They like sandy, not too steep bottom structure. Drop a baited hook down to the bottom, give it a bounce every now and again and wait for the bite. One of the things I found about finding the size fish you want in Puget Sound is finding the right depth. I've done a fair amount targeting flounder to use as bait, because lingcod love the little ones. More than once we'd try fishing in say 65 feet of water, and all were were catching were big, take home for dinner sized fish. Then we'd move to say 90 feet, and that's where the smaller, bait sized flounder were. The next day both sizes of fish might be a different depths. Just need to search a little.
You get thin little fillets off these Puget Sound flounder that are perfect for sautéing. I decided to do a classic lemon butter with these because it adds a great boost of flavor, without masking the wonderful taste of the fresh catch.
Lemon Garlic Sautéed Flounder
1 cup Rice Flour or All Purpose Flour
1 tsp + Salt
1/2 tsp + Black Pepper
10 - 14 oz Fresh Flounder Fillets
6 Tbs Butter - divided
1/4 cup Cooking Oil
2 Tbs Chopped Shallots
2 tsp Minced Garlic
2 each Lemons
1/2 cup White Wine
2 Tbs Chopped Italian Parsley
Pre heat your oven to the warm or low setting.
Make sure your filets are clean, and pat them dry with paper towels. Mix the 1 cup of flour with salt & pepper in a shallow dish. Standard all purpose flour works well, although I like using rice flour for this as it's less likely to clump up on you, and makes for a nice, fine coating. Plus it has the added bonus of not having gluten, in case anyone at your home has issues with that.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of oil on medium in a large sauté pan. Avocado oil is my current favorite for sautéing seafood, however olive and canola oils both work well.
Once the pan is hot, lightly coat the filets in the seasoned flour. Tap away any excess flour, and add them to the pan.
Sauté them 2 minutes on the first side, then flip them over.
Squeeze the juice one lemon over the fish. After two minutes transfer the fish to a plate, and place them in the warm oven.
Add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, along with the garlic and shallots. Sauté for one minute.
Add the wine and the zest and juice of the second lemon.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the parsley. Remove from heat and swirl the pan until the butter has melted into the sauce.
Plate the fish and top with the sauce.
All right, let's talk sides for this dish. Rice is an idea starch to accompany the lemon garlic sauce in this dish. I loaded up my rice cooker before starting anything else for this meal.
For vegetables you have a ton of options. So many veggies pair will with lemon: broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts, chard..... I chose to got with asparagus and crimini mushrooms.
The idea here is to have your vegetables cut and ready to go when you pour the sauce out of the pan. Then you just place the sauté pan, sauce residue and all, back onto med-high heat, add another couple tablespoons of butter or oil, along with your veggies, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Sauté that for 5 minutes, and it's time to eat!