Flounder are plentiful along the Carolina coast, and flounder dishes are common in restaurants in the low country. A crabmeat stuffing is a traditional accompaniment.
We found whole, gutted flounder at H Mart in Falls Church.
- Four 3/4- to 1-pound whole flounder, gutted, heads removed if desired
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 rib celery, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
- 1/3 cup chopped red or green bell pepper
- 2 cups white bread torn into small pieces (about 4 ounces)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 4-ounce center slice boned country ham, about 1/4-inch thick, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon sherry, preferably Amontillado
- 1 pound crabmeat, preferably lump
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons), plus lemon wedges or slices, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a glass baking dish large enough to hold the fish comfortably in 1 layer.
Lay each fish bottom side (the white side) up on a work surface and make a lateral incision down to the backbone, cutting along the center line of the fish and stopping just shy of the head and tail. Working at an oblique angle, slip the knife between the flesh and the backbone and carefully run the knife down the ribs on both sides of the backbone, gradually opening a pocket between flesh and bone.
Pour about half of the butter into a heavy saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and cook for about 6 minutes, until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the bread, eggs, parsley, ham and sherry and stir to mix well; add the crabmeat and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the ham is salty. Stuff the fish with the mixture, mounding it in the middle; don't pack the stuffing in too densely, or the flesh will split during baking.
Use a brush to grease the baking dish with some of the remaining butter, and arrange the fish in the dish. Combine the remaining butter with the lemon juice, pour the mixture over the fish, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Serve with lemon slices or wedges, if desired.
Adapted from "Hoppin' John's Lowcountry Cooking" Twentieth Anniversary Edition, by John Martin Taylor (University of North Carolina Press, 2012).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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