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Flounder is prized for its sweet, mild taste and flaky texture. Broiling flounder is a method of preparation that tends to accentuate the delicate taste of the fish. Many people prefer broiled flounder because it is quick and easy. The process also seals in the natural flavors and nutrients in the fish.
As one of the 300 or so species of flatfish, flounder is popular for people to eat because it does not have a heavy, fishy taste. There are many species of flounder, including summer flounder, southern flounder, and English sole. Although flounder itself is sometimes referred to as sole, that designation is not necessarily correct. While all sole fish, like the English sole, are members of the flounder species, not all flounder are technically considered sole.
Chefs use various cooking techniques to prepare flounder. Due to its mild taste, however, they are usually careful to choose a method that will not overpower the flavor of the fish. Oven-broiled flounder is one type of cooking method that not only preserves the delicate taste but accentuates it as well.
Broiled flounder generally has a lightly browned crust on the outside and a moist and flaky middle. Once the cook fillets the flounder, meaning that the bones are removed from the meat of the fish, he or she places it in a shallow pan suitable for the oven broiler. Many cooks will brush the fish with olive oil, which causes it to develop a crispier crust while sealing in the natural juices. Prior to cooking, home cooks can sprinkle the fish with flavors and spices, such as lemon, garlic, or herb seasoning. Some use a sparse coating of bread crumbs or flour to give the flounder an oven-fried taste without adding the fat and calories caused by frying.
To ensure broiled flounder is properly cooked, cooks place the pan approximately three inches (about eight cm) down from the flame. This prevents the outside from burning before the inside is thoroughly done. Timing is important for broiled flounder, and generally, a flat fillet should not be left under the broiler for more than five to eight minutes. When done properly, the flounder will be slightly crispy on the outside with a soft, white middle that should flake easily with a fork.
Another method of preparing broiled flounder involves spreading a filling, such as crabmeat stuffing, on the fillet and rolling it up jelly-roll style. Cooks then give the roll a light coating of oil or butter, along with other spices, and place it under the broiler. Often referred to as stuffed flounder, this method of preparation takes longer to cook than a flat fillet. The result is a melding of the sweet taste of flounder with the generally stronger taste of the filling, and many consider it to be quite the delicacy.
Nutritionally speaking, broiled flounder by itself is a perfect food for those watching their fat and calorie intake. A serving of 4 ounces (about 113 grams) has about 130 calories, less than 2 grams of fat, and about 27 grams of protein. Of course, these counts vary depending upon whether the fillet has been stuffed and how much oil, butter, or other flavorings are used in cooking.