This unusual recipe will have you asking for more
August is the hottest month for sportsmen in the Carolinas. Fishing has been good all summer, but being smart rather than bold helps keep fishermen a bit cooler. Being the early bird is a good recipe for fishing success until a few cool mornings roll by in September. Until then, you can enjoy sitting in the shade or air conditioning once the day heats fully.
Meanwhile, hunters are stirring, and the whoosh of arrows splits the air in some places. The boom of shotguns and acrid smell of gunpowder gets hunters fired up in others. South Carolina hunters get a bit of a head start as several hunting zones have an August start on deer season. Also, Palmetto State fishermen aren’t expecting their flounder season to close in late August.
With North Carolina’s archery season not starting until Sept. 7, sportsmen can be spend lots of time stocking their freezer with flounder before the anticipated season closing. Because it’s hot, they should appreciate this recipe that keeps them in the air conditioning.
This simple recipe is healthier than frying
This is a tasty and simple recipe for preparing flounder other than frying it. Some folks think flatfish should only be dredged through a bowl of seafood breader and dropped in a pan of 350-degree peanut oil. But this might change their minds. This recipe is about as simple as cooking gets. And it’s a bit healthier than frying. It uses whole flounder, so they are easy to clean too. If you prefer simple recipes, this is one you should enjoy preparing and eating.
Catching the guest of honor yourself is what makes this recipe special. In August, flounder are spread from the backs of creeks, across coastal bays to nearshore rocks, shipwrecks and artificial reefs. Flounder are chewing, too, especially later in the month after a couple of cool mornings and the finger mullet begin heading towards the ocean. One of those finger mullet pegged on a Carolina rig should attract a healthy flatfish.
Broiled Flounder with Buttery Parmesan Sauce
I realize many folks consider me a little off-kilter since I freely admit that flounder aren’t one of my favorite fish. They’re okay, but I prefer fish with a more-robust flavor. Don’t think I don’t eat them; I do. But I look at things to add or bring out flavor, and this is one of those recipes. It isn’t strong or spicy, but steps up the mild flavor of flounder so even an old sea dog like me enjoys it.
I don’t remember who gave me this recipe. It might have been one of our Alaskan friends offering a way to cook halibut without drying it out. It worked there, and the mixture has a good taste. So I began looking for other fish to use it on. Flounder look the most like halibut, just a whole lot smaller. And they have a similar mild taste, so they were the first we tried. It worked too.
Even small halibut fillets are thick, so we decided to try it with whole, pan-size flounder. It would probably also work well with fillets from a larger flounder. We score the flounder to give the sauce places to penetrate. My wife and I have different preferences for lemon in recipes, and we settled on two tablespoons as a medium flavor. You can add a little or use less to suit your personal tastes. Two tablespoons also happens to be about what you get from a fresh lemon. Warming the lemon for 20 to 25 seconds in a microwave helps get its juices flowing. And it makes it easier to get the juice.
Watch the flounder closely after adding sauce
If you would prefer to add the pepper in the sauce, feel free to do it. Begin with a half teaspoon and add it slowly. I like to add it on top of the sauce so I can see how much I’m adding. It gives a better visual presentation this way too, in my opinion. I don’t use any salt, but some folks don’t eat without it. My suggestion is to try some sea salt or Himalayan salt in a grinder.
The cheese sauce is mild and can’t be added until the flounder is almost cooked. It will brown quickly and scorch if left unchecked for very long. This is the only real diligent part of this recipe, and it passes quickly. Keep a close watch, and as soon as the sauce begins to brown, remove the flounder from the oven. It will go from browning to scorched very quickly, so pay attention for this step.
With the flounder out, give it a minute or two for its juices to stabilize and serve it while it’s hot. Enjoy!
- 1 whole flounder (approximately 2-3 pounds)
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Coarse ground black pepper
- Buttery flavor, non-stick cooking spray
- Aluminum foil
Scale the flounder and remove internals, head and tail. Score the dark side of the flounder several times, both vertically and lengthwise. Score the white side of the flounder a couple of times vertically and horizontally.
Cover a baking or cookie pan with aluminum foil and spray with non stick spray. Preheat the oven to broil. Place the flounder on the foil in the pan, dark side up. Broil the flounder on a middle rack for 6 to 8 minutes until it is beginning to flake.
Remove flounder from oven. Spoon on and spread the buttery parmesan sauce well on the dark side of the flounder. Sprinkle or grind black pepper on the flounder. Return the flounder to the oven and broil for approximately 1 to 2 minutes, or until the buttery cheese sauce begins to brown.
Remove the flounder from the oven and allow to set for a couple of minutes. Serve the flounder while it is still warm and the buttery cheese sauce is soft.
This is a light summer meal that can easily be prepared inside, in the air conditioning, during the hottest part of the summer. It uses the mild flavor of flounder for its base and adds a little zip with the butter, lemon and pepper, but it does not approach spicy. This was served with some baked mushrooms and onions and a combination of fresh green beans and asparagus. Chilled rice pudding is an excellent dessert.