Flounder is a flat fish with both its eyes on one side that lives in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Flounders lie on their sides on the ocean floor; in adulthood, both eyes are situated on the right or left (dependent upon species), upward-facing side of its body. Flounder sizes typically vary from five to fifteen inches, though they sometimes grow as long as three feet in length. Their breadth is about one-half of their length.
The summer flounder is left-handed; that is, it lies on the bottom on its right side, with its eyes on its left-hand side, and its abdomen is on its left edge as it rests on the bottom
Flat with both eyes on top of its flat head that can move independently in every direction.
It has long been known that flatfishes are generally dark on a dark bottom and pale on a pale one. Perhaps the summer flounder is the most variable in color of all our local species and the one which adapts its pattern the most closely to that of the ground on which it lies. It is white below and of some shade of brown, gray, or drab above, like most flatfishes. But it can assume a wide range of tints, from nearly white on white sand through various hues of gray, blue, green, orange, pink, and brown to almost black.
Selecting and Buying
- Should have a shiny, clean belly cavty without protruding bones or cuts.
- Smell should be very mild.
- When buying flounder loins, fillets, or steaks, get those with firm flesh, no discoloration and a transcluscent appearance.
- Look for fresh flounder fillets with a good smell, firm texture and moist appearance.
The flounder feeding ground is the soft mud of the sea bottom, near bridge spiles, docks, and other bottom incumbrances; they are sometimes found on bass grounds as well. Their diet consists mainly of fish spawn, crustaceans, polychaetes and other fish.
Preparation and Use
Flounder are an excellent pan fish, but they should be cooked as soon as possible after being caught.
The key to cooking flounder in a pan lies in preventing the skin sticking to the pan as this can cause the fish to break up.
Sticking is caused by excess moisture turning to steam and breaking up the skin.
Pat fillets dry with paper towels. Remove any remaining bones. Fold the fillets into small bundles by turning the ends under so they meet.
If you catch your own flounder, kill it as soon as the fish is landed and put in on ice.
Cleaning fish in seawater is best, if unavailable add salt to the water used for rinsing the fish, fresh water removes some of the delicate flavor of fish and should not be used.
Cleaning flounder is simple, cut behind the pectoral fin on the underside of the flatfish down to the outside of the gut cavity to the vent. Reach in with a finger and scoop out the viscera but leave the roe intact.
Conserving and Storing
Clean all flatfish species as soon as practical and store in the refrigerator.
Store, tightly wrapped, for no more than 1 day in the coldest part of the refigerator.
If handled and cleaned correctly the fish will stay fresh for a week.