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Pan Seared Whole Flounder with Beurre Blanc

Ingredients

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Cooking a whole fish might sound intimidating, but let me assure you, it’s easier than you think. Not only is this Pan Seared Whole Flounder recipe simple, but flounder is also an affordable option, making it a win-win for both your taste buds and your wallet.

By following a few straightforward steps, you can create a restaurant-quality fish dish right in your own kitchen. Plus, the delicate flavor of flounder pairs perfectly with the rich and tangy beurre blanc sauce.

Two pieces of whole, seared flounder laid out on a French-style platter with beurre blanc sauce spooned over the fish.
Plate the fish. Spoon the beurre blanc over the fish. Serve immediately.

Why You Should Make this Whole Flounder Recipe

  1. Ease of Cooking: Despite the impression that cooking a whole fish may be complex, this pan seared whole flounder recipe simplifies the process, making it accessible even for beginners.
  2. Affordability: Flounder is known for being a budget-friendly seafood option. By opting for whole flounder, you can often find it at even lower prices compared to fillets. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy a delicious seafood dish without breaking the bank.
  3. Delicious Flavor: Flounder boasts a delicate and mild flavor that pairs exceptionally well with the rich and tangy beurre blanc sauce. The combination of seasoning and searing enhances the natural taste of the fish, creating a mouthwatering dish that will satisfy even the most discerning palate.
  4. Restaurant-Quality Dining at Home: With this flounder fish recipe, you can recreate the experience of dining at a high-end restaurant right in your own kitchen.
  5. Versatile Serving Options: This Pan Seared Whole Flounder with Beurre Blanc can be served in various ways and is adaptable to suit your preferences, and dietary needs.

Ingredients to Prepare Pan Seared Flounder

  • Whole flounder: Sole, tilapia, trout or sea bass can be substituted for flounder.
  • Olive oil: Avocado oil is a great substitute.
  • Butter: Margarine, ghee or coconut oil can be used as substitutes for butter.
  • Seasonings: Use mine, or your favorite seasoning blend.
  • White wine: Chicken, vegetable broth or apple cider vinegar can be used as substitutes for white wine.
  • White wine vinegar: Champagne vinegar, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar can be used instead.
  • Shallot: Minced onion can be used as substitutes for shallot.
  • Heavy cream: Half-and-half, coconut cream or evaporated milk can be used instead of heavy cream. Use a non-dairy heavy cream for a dairy-free beurre blanc.
  • Parsley: Cilantro or basil can be used instead of parsley.

How to Clean and Score a Whole Flounder

If you cannot locate whole flounder that has been cleaned and scored, you can do this easily at home with just a few simple steps:

  1. Rinse the Flounder: Start by rinsing the whole flounder under cold running water to remove any debris or slime.
  2. Remove the Scales: Using a fish scaler or the back of a knife, gently scrape the scales from the flounder’s skin. Work from the tail towards the head, applying firm but gentle pressure to remove the scales.
  3. Remove the Innards: Make a shallow incision along the underside of the flounder, from the vent to the head. Use your fingers or a small spoon to carefully scoop out the innards, including the guts and organs. Rinse the cavity thoroughly under cold water to ensure it’s clean.
  4. Trim the Fins and Tail: Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to trim off any excess fins or the tail of the flounder. This step is optional, but can improve the appearance of the final dish.
  5. Pat Dry: Once cleaned, pat the whole flounder dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. This will help the seasoning adhere better and ensure a crispier skin when cooking.

Scoring the Whole Flounder (if necessary):

  1. Prepare the Flounder: Place the cleaned and dried whole flounder on a clean cutting board with the belly facing up.
  2. Make Deep, Diagonal Cuts: Using a sharp knife, make deep diagonal cuts along the length of the flounder on both sides. These cuts should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep and spaced evenly apart. Be careful not to cut all the way through the flounder.
  3. Create Crosshatch Pattern: Turn the flounder 90 degrees and make shallow diagonal cuts across the initial cuts you made, creating a crosshatch pattern. Again, be sure not to cut too deeply to avoid completely severing the fish.
  4. Repeat on the Other Side: Flip the flounder over and repeat the scoring process on the other side. This will ensure even cooking and allow the seasonings to penetrate the fish more effectively.

How to Make Beurre Blanc

To create a flavorful beurre blanc sauce to accompany your whole pan seared flounder, follow these simple steps:

  • Reduce White Wine Mixture: In a saucepan, combine white wine, white wine vinegar, and chopped shallots. Simmer the mixture over medium heat until it reduces to about 2 tablespoons, intensifying the flavors.
  • Incorporate Heavy Cream: Lower the heat and pour in the heavy cream, stirring continuously. Allow the mixture to simmer for a few more minutes to thicken slightly.
  • Add Cold Butter: Begin incorporating the cold butter into the sauce, a few chunks at a time, while whisking vigorously. Continue adding butter until it’s fully melted and emulsified into the sauce, creating a creamy texture.
  • Finish with Lemon Juice: Once all the butter has been incorporated, remove the sauce from heat and stir in freshly squeezed lemon juice. This adds brightness and balances the richness of the sauce.
  • Strain and Keep Warm: Strain the beurre blanc sauce through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any solids, keeping the sauce smooth and velvety. Keep it warm until ready to serve, but be careful not to let it boil, as this can cause the sauce to separate.
  • Optionally: Although a beurre blanc would not traditionally include chopped tomatoes and fresh parsley, I thought this was a nice addition to the fish.

How to Sear Whole Flounder

  • Rinse and Pat Dry: Begin by rinsing the whole flounder under cold running water to remove any impurities. Pat it dry thoroughly with paper towels to ensure a crispy skin when searing.
  • Season the Flounder: Season both sides of the flounder generously with the seasoning blend. Gently massage the seasonings into the scored grooves for maximum flavor.
  • Heat the Pan: Heat a large skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat (can also use stainless steel or cast iron). Add a combination of olive oil and butter to the pan, allowing it to heat until the butter starts to sizzle.
  • Sear the Flounder: Carefully place the seasoned whole flounder, skin side down, into the hot pan. Depending on the size of the fish, you may need to sear it in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Let it sear undisturbed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and crispy.
  • Flip and Cook: Using a fish spatula, gently flip the flounder to the other side and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. The fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork when done.

Alternatives to Pan Searing

Alternatively, you can grill or roast the whole flounder in the oven:

  • Grilling Method: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Season the whole flounder as desired and lightly oil the grill grates. Place the flounder directly on the grill and cook for about 5-7 minutes per side, or until the fish is cooked through and easily flakes with a fork.
  • Oven Roasting Method: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the seasoned whole flounder on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the fish, or until it is cooked through and flakes easily.

How to Serve and Store Pan Seared Flounder

This Pan Seared Whole Flounder with Beurre Blanc pairs wonderfully with:

If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When reheating, be gentle to avoid overcooking the delicate fish.

More Whole Fish Recipes to Love

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Two pieces of whole, seared flounder laid out on a French-style platter with beurre blanc sauce spooned over the fish.

Pan Seared Whole Flounder with Beurre Blanc


Description

Cooking a whole fish might sound intimidating, but let me assure you, it’s easier than you think. Not only is this Pan Seared Whole Flounder recipe simple, but flounder is also an affordable option, making it a win-win for both your taste buds and your wallet.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 whole flounder, (1 1/4 pounds total), cleaned and scored (head-on, or off)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Cracked black pepper and flaky salt, to finish

For the Beurre Blanc:

  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick, cut into small chunks)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fish and pat dry.
  2. Combine the seasonings in a small bowl.
  3. Sprinkle the seasonings on both sides of the fish and pack into the scored grooves. Let it rest a few minutes while you prepare the beurre blanc.
  4. In a pot, combine the wine, vinegar, and shallots. Simmer until it reduces to about two tablespoons.
  5. Reduce the heat and add the heavy cream. Simmer for a few more minutes.
  6. Slowly incorporate the cold butter pieces, just a little at a time, whisking vigorously until all the butter has been added.
  7. Once all the butter is incorporated, remove from heat and add the lemon juice.
  8. Strain the sauce and keep warm.
  9. Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan.
  10. Once heated, add the seasoned whole flounder, skin side down. Sear for about three to four minutes before flipping. The skin should be browned. Cook for an additional three to four minutes on the other side.
  11. Plate and keep warm while you finish the remaining fish.
  12. Stir the chopped tomatoes and parsley into the sauce.
  13. Spoon the beurre blanc over the fish.
  14. Finish with cracked black pepper and flaky salt.
  15. Serve immediately.
  16. ENJOY!

Notes

  • See post on how to clean and score a whole flounder, if needed.
  • Each fish should yield about 5-5 1/2 ounces of meat. 
  • Rinse and pat the fish dry before adding the seasoning blend.
  • Feel free to use your own seasoning blend.
  • Prepare the beurre blanc first and keep warm while searing the fish.
  • Be sure to use cold butter in the beurre blanc.
  • Alternatively, grill or roast the fish (see methods in post).
  • Once cooked, the spine/bones of the fish should easily lift off, revealing the tender meat.
  • Be cautious when eating as some pin bones may still be present. 
  • The flounder skin is edible. However, I do not prefer it. The skin will easily peel away from the flesh after cooking. 
  • This recipe will also work if using flounder filets.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner, Fish and Seafood
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: American/French

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WELCOME! My name is Melissa Latin aka. Charlotte Fashion Plate. Happy to meet you! I am more than just recipes. I love fashion and style too! Most importantly, I love my Family (my Hubby and my Fur Babies). My Husband (aka my “Kitchen Bitch”) means the world to me. He’s pretty damn cool too. Not only is he one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, he also has had a lengthy career in professional hockey. Not only winning two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early ’90’s, but most recently winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers, amongst many other accolades. If you live in Charlotte and play hockey, or have a family member who plays, be sure to contact him!

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