Recent storms over the Chesapeake Bay have been stirring up the flounder, which normally hide out on the bay bottom. We’re fortunate to have a fisherman acquaintance who shared his catch with us, bringing us three pounds of fresh flounder filets!
Since my dad is a big fan of fried seafood, we decided to go that route in preparing it. I used my standard breading recipe, the one I use to make fried chicken. The only changes I had to make were upping the temperature of the frying oil slightly (from 350°F to 365°F) and only cooking the pieces for four or five minutes total. (Fileted fish cooks a heck of a lot faster than bone-in chicken!) The results were superb: golden brown breading and wonderfully moist fish.
In the hopes that you’ve got some fresh fish wherever you are, here’s the recipe.
The amounts in this recipe are good for coating 3 lbs. of fish filets (enough to serve five or six people). Adjust according to your needs.
The trick to good breading is to start early: an hour or two before you plan to fry. You need plenty of time for the flour to absorb the liquid and make a paste that won’t fall off in the cooking oil.
You’ll need two large, shallow bowls. In one, put 1/2 C. of buttermilk, cream, or plain unsweetened yogurt. In the other, combine 1 C. flour, 1/2 tsp. paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Dip each piece of fish, chicken, or what-have-you first into the liquid, then into the flour mixture. (Using a separate hand for each mixture will keep your hands from accumulating batter.) Set the coated pieces in a single layer on plates or baking sheets. Let sit for about an hour and a half, until you can see that the liquid has seeped into the flour coating and made it pasty.
In a cast-iron skillet, heat one inch of peanut, canola, or other high-smoking-point oil (NOT olive oil) to 365°F. (In my cast-iron skillet, I need about 24 fl. oz. to get an inch of oil.) When the oil is up to temperature, put in the first batch of filets to fry. Don’t put in too many or the temperature will drop too much. I like to lightly cover with a lid, to reduce splatter and help keep the oil as hot as possible. Fry about four or five minutes total, turning halfway through, until the breading is golden brown. Remove the pieces and put them in a warm place while you fry the rest of the batches. Before each batch, make sure the temperature of the oil has returned to 365°F.
Enjoy with a pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade!