Just like their bottom feeding cousins, the monkfish, our friend the flounder is in no danger of ever winning any kind of beauty contest. After all, if you were born with both of your eyes on the same side of your face, you’d get some funny looks too. They do however share something in common though. When prepared correctly, they’re both delicious.
Make that all three because when you get right down to it, there are two types of flounder, one for winter and one for summer.
Normally brown in color, the winter flounder is one of the most common flatfish in all of North America
. To borrow some baseball
terminology, it is what would be known as a “righty” In his or her case, since it doesn’t have arms to throw or grip a bat, the analogy
applies because both of its eyes are on the right side of its head
. During the summer, it spends most of its adult life wandering the ocean floor eating all sorts of smaller creatures. When the weather turns cooler, it makes its way inland towards the estuaries where it dines on worms
, smaller fish and some crustaceans. Usually these guys hover around the six pound range and twenty inch length are common but catches of up to eight pounds and twenty five inches long aren’t unheard of. The underside of the fish usually starts to turn yellow as it gets older so if you’re in a restaurant and see “lemon sole
” on the menu, chances are
it’s the winter flounder that will be gracing your plate.
Contrary to the winter flounder, the summer flounder, to again use some baseball vernacular, would be a southpaw since both of its eyes are located on the left side of its head. Unlike the winter flounder though, the summer version is covered with black spots and its underside is almost completely white. While the summer flounder is also a bottom feeder, it further differs from its winter brethren because somewhere along the way it obtained the ability to change colors in order to adapt to the ocean floor. Its also been known to bury itself on the ocean bottom to escape predators and lay in wait for any shrimp, squid or crabs that comes its way. These guys are also usually longer in length (up to thirty seven inches) and a lot heavier than their snow bird cousins.
Usually when you go to your local fishmonger, you’ll see the flounder already filleted. Come to think of, I don’t ever think I’ve seen a whole one intact but that’s okay. I’ve hooked a few of the smaller ones in my lifetime and their nothing to write home about.
Anyway, I like to toss ‘em in a egg wash and bread ‘em and fry ‘em. I usually use plain bread crumbs because the flounder itself has a very delicate flavor and I don’t want it to get lost in a bunch of seasoning. Melt some butter and depending on their thickness, about three minutes a side should do.
For you more venturesome types, you might want to try baking them. Cover them with some melted (margarine for you health conscious folks) butter, lemon juice and maybe a sprig or two of parsley and a dash of pepper. Plop ‘em into a three hundred fifty degree (Fahrenheit) oven for about fifteen minutes or so.
I know some folks who stuff the fish with crab meat or smother it with cheese sauces and the like but to me that’s overkill. I don’t like to let the ingredients overpower the main course.
The best advice I can give is to let your palate be your guide.
lovejoyman says:but flounder are *not* born with their eyes on the same side. they are born looking like normal fishies and then one eye starts moving over as they age. ick! and i thought I had it bad growing up. all the best.
To me, that makes it sound even more strange - moving eyeballs!