To me, flounder is flat-out the most delectable of all the Gulf finfish. And for my money, stuffing a whole flounder with Gulf shrimp and crabmeat is the ultimate dish for someone as seafood-obsessed as me. Whenever I see it on a restaurant menu, I can’t resist. And I couldn’t resist the flounders I recently discovered at the docks in Delcambre on a recent Saturday morning.
Buying shrimp right off the boats in the coastal village of Delcambre, just an hour south of Lafayette is one of the pleasures of living in South Louisiana. The Delcambre Seafood and Farmers Market is held on the first Saturday during seven months out of the year and you can check the schedule by going to their website here. It’s a good time to load up on fish, shellfish and fresh produce from area fishermen and farmers. When given the chance, I always shop this way because buying direct ensures quality and gives maximum profitability to the hard-working families.
Flounder is a much sought-after fish and the delicate white flesh has a subtle sweetness that makes it perfect for stuffing. Every now and then I see the 5-pound “doormat” flounder that makes a dramatic statement on the dinner table, but a 2-pound flounder is the perfect stuffing size. Cleaned and scaled, the flounder only needs to be cut down the backbone and the flesh peeled back to form a pocket.
Time to stuff.
- 2 (2-pound) whole flounders, cleaned with a large pocket cut in the center
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup diced celery
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Dash of hot sauce
- Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 2 pounds medium-size raw Louisiana shrimp, shells removed
- 8 ounces Louisiana white lump crabmeat
- 1 cup fresh unseasoned bread crumbs
- 1 whole lemon, sliced thin
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Place the flounders on parchment-lined trays. Rub the skin with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper in the inside of each pocket.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Sauté until the onion turns translucent and then add the parsley, rosemary, garlic, and ginger. Continue cooking to combine the herbs and add lemon juice and vermouth. Season the mixture with smoked paprika, hot sauce, and a light sprinkle of Cajun seasoning. Remove from the heat.
- Place the shrimp on a cutting board. Reserve a few of the whole shrimp to garnish the top of the stuffing on each flounder. Chop the rest of the shrimp in smaller bite-size pieces. Add the chopped shrimp and crabmeat to the mixture stirring to combine. Add only enough breadcrumbs a little at a time to reach the desired consistency of a moist stuffing. Set aside to cool.
- To assemble the dish, spoon the stuffing mixture into the pocket of each flounder. Place a few of the shrimp on top of the stuffing. Season the fish with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a light sprinkle of paprika. Add lemon slices to the top of the fish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the thickest part of the fish easily flakes at the touch of a fork.
- For serving, use two spatulas to gently move each flounder to a platter being careful not to break off the tail section. Serve with crusty French bread.
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