Home Ingredients Fish What Does Flounder Taste Like? Quick Guide

What Does Flounder Taste Like? Quick Guide

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Cooked flounder on a board

Growing up in New Zealand, several times a year, we’d take a net down to the Manukau Heads and catch loads of seafood in the estuary. Discovering flounder in the net was always a bonus. They are a creepy, unassuming looking flatfish that dwell on the ocean floor for much of their lives.

Flounders have become much more popular on the restaurant menu and in fish markets across the United States. So, you may be wondering what do flounder taste like? In this article, I’ll tell you everything I know, including how to cook them and suitable side dishes.

What does flounder taste like?

Flounder is a mild-tasting fish with a slightly sweet undertone. Its texture is delicate and fine with low levels of oiliness and moisture. Fishes with a similar flavor profile include halibut, tilapia, and branzino.

Flounder taste
Flounder is a versatile fish thanks to its mild flavor.

As with many types of fish, flounder will vary in appearance and taste, depending on its habitat and species. The Pacific Dover has soft flesh and is considered a lower-quality fish. At the other end of the scale, the yellowtail flounder and petrale sole offer a delicate, firm-fleshed, lean fillet. They are touted as the best eating options. Other excellent eating choices are the lemon and gray sole.

Smaller flounders tend to have delicate flesh, while the larger ones are much firmer.

A summary of flounder’s taste

CharacteristicDescription
FlavorMild
TextureDelicate
FishinessLow-medium
OilinessLow
Color (cooked)Snow white

Related reading:
What does grouper taste like?
What does swordfish taste like?
What does walleye taste like?
What does red snapper taste like?

Best flavors to pair with flounder

Like most fresh fish, the best rule is to keep it simple without over-seasoning. Add salt and pepper with a squeeze of lemon for a tasty (and easy) option. Flavors that work well with flounder include:

  • Salt and pepper
  • garlic
  • paprika
  • dill
  • parmesan
  • lemon
  • fennel
  • parsley
  • capers
  • tartare sauce

Recommended side dishes

  • couscous
  • chips
  • garden salad
  • Hasselback potatoes
  • green beans
  • potato wedges
  • risotto
  • stuffed red peppers
Flounder and chips on a white plate.
Chips are the perfect side with flounder.

Alternative names

Yellowtail flounder, dab, Dover sole, lemon sole, gray sole, summer flounder, winter flounder, Alaska Dover, rock sole, California sole, petrale sole¹.

Useful substitutes

Flounder for tilapia, grouper, or catfish are all suitable options.

How to pick the freshest flounder

1. Do a smell test

If you can, smell the fish before buying. Although it should smell fishy, the aroma shouldn’t be overwhelming. Pungent fishiness is a sign of old fish.

2. Do a visual check

The fish should have clear, bright eyes rather than dull, grayish eyes. Its skin should have a shiny, clean appearance. A discolored or patchy looking skin isn’t a good sign.

3. Consider frozen fish

Fresh is best. But it isn’t always easy to source good quality fresh flounder. If you visit your local store and the quality isn’t ideal, you are better to opt for the frozen option.

Fillets of flounder on a chopping board.
Choosing fresh fillets is essential.

How to cook a whole flounder

Flounder in the oven
Checking the progress of our baked flounder.

Cooking baked flounder is one of the more straightforward recipes in the kitchen. To keep the fillets super-moist, wrap the unfilleted fish up in baking paper. The protective layer and the bones help keep the fish tender.

Serves: 4 Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large flounder
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped Continental parsley
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C).
  2. Place fish on a chopping board and coat the top of the fish with olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle garlic, onion, and parsley evenly over each fish.
  4. Wrap flounder in baking paper so that the fish is covered and place on an oven tray.
  5. Bake for 15-25 minutes until the flesh is moist and white. Cooking time will vary depending the the size of the fish
  6. Remove the fish from the oven and serve immediately with a wedge of lemon, cobb loaf, and butter.
A whole baked flounder on a plate
The final meal ready to eat.

If you’ve bought fillets, then pan-frying is a tasty method of cooking. If you want more flavor, dredge the fish in a coating of panko crumbs and grated parmesan before cooking on a hot skillet for 2 minutes on each side.

Cooking tips

  • Avoid filleting small flounder as they’ll be too thin and will dry out quickly. They are best baked, grilled, or stuffed.
  • Thick flounder fillets are suitable for broiling or stuffing.
  • Flavorsome sauces and powerful seasonings should be avoided as this fish is subtle in taste.
  • Vegetables, stock, or wine are all excellent options for cooking flounder as they help prevent the fish from drying out.

FAQ

Is flounder very fishy tasting?

Flounder ranges from very mild through to medium fishiness depending on the variety and age. In most cases, they are mild-flavored fish.

How do I eat a whole fish?

A flounder is quite easy to eat once cooked. Use a knife to scrape off the thin layer of skin – it should easily peel off. Now, use a fork to eat the flesh. Once you finish one side, flip the fish over and repeat the process.

Final words

Flounder may not look as appealing as some of the other fish on the market, but don’t let that put you off. It is a mild, slightly sweet tasting fish with a delicate texture and no oily mouthfeel. Unlike salmon, flounder isn’t as rich, so you won’t feel “weighed down” at the end of your meal.

Flounder is often served in restaurants as a whole fish on the bone. If you’re eating out, it may not be the best option for kids due to the bones. A fillet, however, would be ideal for anyone that enjoys mild tasting seafood.

Wild-caught flounder is your best bet if you can get it. If it’s not possible, make friends with a fishmonger to help ensure you get delicious fresh fish.

Have you tried flounder before? What is your favorite way to cook it? Let us know in the comments below.

Reference
[1] http://www.trade-seafood.com/species/flounder.htm