This flounder with lemon butter sauce is easy, healthy, quick, elegant, family-friendly, and requires that you clean up only a single skillet. That’s to say nothing of its crisp brown crust and flaky perfection.
Why You Need To Use Fresh, Not Frozen, Fish In This Recipe
Though it may be tempting, don’t substitute frozen fish for fresh in this impressive weeknight-friendly recipe. Frozen fish, no matter how thoroughly you thaw it or pat it dry, will exude quite a lot of moisture during cooking, effectively making it impossible to attain that lovely crisp crust that otherwise forms on fish tossed into a hot skillet. So you end up with soggy steamed fish rather than those crisp edges that give way to tender fish in a way that makes your heart skip a beat. Trust us when we say it’s worth a few extra hard-earned dollars for fresh rather than freezer-case fish.
Flounder with Lemon Butter Sauce
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 15 M
- Serves 4
Pat the fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Pat the fillets dry a second time just to be sure to remove all the moisture. If desired, sprinkle a little flour over both sides of the fillets and use your fingers to evenly coat both sides.
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.
Heat the oil in a large skillet (preferably cast-iron or stainless steel rather than nonstick) over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers but isn’t smoking, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add the fillets to the skillet and cook, without moving, for 2 minutes. Slide a thin metal spatula underneath the fillets (making sure to use a little pressure to scrape up any of the golden crust that may be sticking to the bottom) and carefully flip the fish. If it seems impossible to slip the spatula beneath the fillet and the skillet, wait 30 to 60 seconds or so and try again. The fish will release when it’s ready–and only when it’s ready.
You may be tempted to pull out your nonstick skillet, but to get that coveted crisp crust, you’re better off with a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan.
Place a slice of butter on top of each fish fillet and stand idly by as the butter melts and infuses the fish with flavor. Cook the fish until it springs back from light pressure, about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the fish to a platter or to 4 plates.
Carefully squeeze the lemon juice into the skillet and, with the skillet still over medium-high heat, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the fresh herbs and spoon the sauce over the fish. Originally published July 26, 2012.
*NOTE: How To Make This Flounder Recipe Gluten-Free
Although a dusting of flour does make for a swell crust on these pan-seared fish fillets, it’s not necessary. There’s an editor here at LC (ahem) who can attest that flour isn’t at all essential for a lovely sear on fish. She sizzles flounder fillets for supper quite frequently in a sturdy stainless steel skillet and they never, ever have a flour coating. It’s just not necessary. If you’re accustomed to the thin coating imparted by flour but are gluten-free, then you can use rice flour in place of all-purpose flour, as noted in the recipe above, and it will work just dandy.