Layers of flavor elevate this dish! The punch of saffron and lemon in the smooth velouté sauce contrasts the sweet blue crab and fresh Gulf fish in this Fillet of Flounder with Crabmeat Dressing. This recipe is exceptional in every way.
Of all the coastal Louisiana fish species, flounder is at the top of my list. I recall many Memorial Days fishing with family and friends at my camp near Slidell, Louisiana. We’d troll the mud flats and jetties along the banks of the East Pearl River as it empties into Lake Borgne. We’d fish for hours, share stories and cans of beer, and not catch anything but an occasional hardhead. But when the tide started moving out of the sloughs, so did the fish; we’d reel in flounder after flounder.
We fished them on live shrimp, and when they’re hungry, it’s not unheard of to catch a dozen or so in less than an hour. Mostly medium size, every now and then we’d hook a “doormat” 6-pounder. Back at the camp, our prep was simple: we would scale and fillet the fish, cut them into thin strips, roll them in breading, and fry them up golden brown and crispy. With an ice-cold beer and the setting sun across the river, the fishing camp life was good. I miss those days.
Flounder is a delicate fish with sweet, white flaky flesh that is perfect for a variety of preparations. One of my favorite ways is my Flounder Topped with Crabmeat Dressing which starts with a simple butter/olive oil sauté. It’s quick and easy, and when topped with fresh lump crabmeat dressing and drizzled with a saffron velouté (vuh-loo-TAY) sauce, I’m falling in love with flounder all over again.
My velouté sauce is a classic French mother sauce that is a cinch to make. It’s just a blond roux brought together with stock. In this case, I am fortifying light chicken stock with threads of saffron. Not a common bayou ingredient, I love how the golden strands permeate the broth with flavor and color and combine in a subtle sauce for my fish.
The keys to cooking flounder are threefold: Season it lightly; cook it quickly; treat it delicately. The thing with the tender flesh of this species is that it tends to overcook and fall apart unless you use a gentle hand in preparation. The reward is the sweetest bite of fish you’ve ever tasted. And when topped with briny lumps of Gulf blue crabmeat, we’re talking flavor overload.
Flounder for supper; life is good.
- 2 cups light chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup finely diced yellow onion
- ½ cup finely diced green bell pepper
- ½ cup finely diced celery
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 pound Louisiana lump crabmeat
- 1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, plus more if needed
- 4 (8-ounce) flounder fillets, skin and bones removed
- 1 tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 lemon slices
- Parsley sprigs, for garnish
- In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the saffron. Turn off the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes.
- In a small pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the flour, stirring until a light roux forms. Cook for 5 minutes to remove the raw taste of the flour and strain the saffron-infused stock into the pot a little at a time, whisking constantly. Once the sauce thickens to coat the back of a spoon, turn off the heat. Sir in the lemon juice and season to taste with white pepper. (The chicken stock should have enough salt.) Keep warm for serving.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Sauté until the onion turns translucent, and then add the parsley, rosemary, and garlic. Add the lemon juice and wine, and continue cooking until combined, about 5 minutes. Season the mixture with Cajun seasoning and remove from the heat.
- Add the 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. Drizzle a bit more olive oil if needed for moisture. Set aside and keep warm for serving.
- Lay the fillets on a cutting board and sprinkle lightly with Cajun seasoning.
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Once sizzling, add the fillets and sauté on both sides until the fish is cooked through and just begins to brown. Remove the pan from the heat.
- For serving, use a long fish spatula to move the fish fillet gently to a plate. Top with a generous portion of crabmeat dressing and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with a slice of lemon and sprig of parsley. Serve with more of the sauce on the side.
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Linda Johnson says
Oh my goodness, be still my heart. I could eat Gulf Coast Flounder 7 days a week. Even my husband, who was a red meat and potatoes man when we married, after some coaxing, fell in love with the jewel of Coastal waters, Flounder. Reading this recipe has been torture. Living in West North Carolina now, does not make getting my hands on fresh sweet Flounder, the easiest shopping experience. Especially, flounder that has already been skinned. I do know how to skin and remove the bones myself, but it is not something I look forward to doing. A tutorial on your suggestions for that task. as well as freezing fresh flounder would be much appreciated on my end. As a teenager and young adult who went fishing for Flounder, as well as gigging Flounder at night with a sturdy pair of tennis shoes on and a gas torch light, proper freezing of our haul was always a big deal. My Daddy taught us to clean, skin, and then freeze our catch in washed out milk cartons covered with a very lightly salted water. If there is a better way, I am all ears. Removing the skin, whether for stuffing, frying, baking or broiling makes all the difference in the world. The Veloute sauce with Saffron is a totally new concept for me. Although, I have made crabmeat stuffing (sometimes with the addition of small shrimp) for flounder since the age of 16, I will definitely be trying the addition of the Veloute Sauce. Thank you once again, for a wonderful recipe to try.
George Graham says
Thanks for sharing your recollections (gigging flounder with a gas torch is priceless). Flounder are very common in the waters off North Carolina and any good seafood market should be able to get it for you. As for freezing, your Daddy is correct: freezing any seafood in lightly salted water is the proper way to preserve the taste and texture. And the milk carton just brought back a flood of memories for me of the reach-in freezer at our fishing camp when I was a kid; dozens of Borden’s milk cartons chock full of shrimp leftover from our live bait fishing trips. All the best to my NC friend.
Ken Bratton says
This flounder recipe sounds great. Can’ t wait to try it. One question , where do I find Saffron Threads?
Last, I prepared your oven cooked pork jambalaya for my grandsons 1 year old birthday party for my family and their friends in Houston last Saturday.
To say it was a huge success is an understatement. Thanks for your website and all your recipes!
George Graham says
Hey Ken – Most any well-stocked spice aisle will have saffron threads. In your neck of the woods, try Acquistapace near downtown Covington or your nearby Rouses. And if that doesn’t work, check out the food section at your nearest CostPlus World Market. Thanks for the comment.
The flounder sounds delicious. I would try it, but then your stuff always sounds good! BTW, I mentioned your food blog in my just-published journal, Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile. See below.
I’m talking about a neighbor’s New Year’s Day menu.
“Corn maque choux is a type of smothered corn. It’s a signature Cajun dish. According to George Graham, author of the popular food blog Acadiana Table, maque choux is a dish that predates the 1755 arrival of the Acadians to Louisiana; it reflects the Native American heritage that forms a vibrant strand in the potpourri that is Louisiana cuisine.”
George Graham says
Oh goodness, another dish that sounds perfect. I haven’t had flounder in years. The crab dressing sounds soooo good and would pair well with many fish dishes.
Carla King says
Carla King says
Please provide me with more ideas for cooking seafood
George Graham says
Carla – Just go to the RECIPES section in the blog menu and pull down the categories and click on SEAFOOD. It’s that simple. And of course, you are welcome to buy my cookbook that has an entire chapter on seafood. All the best.
Brian Nagele says
Congratulations, you literally wrote one of the best posts I’ve seen in forever. If your blog isn’t already taking off, it definitely will if you keep sharing posts like this one.