Whole Flounder with Brown Butter, Lemon & Capers


You don’t have to be a seafood master like chef Jasper White to make this classic flounder preparation. The mild white fish needs only a touch of lemon juice, a spoonful of capers and some chopped Italian parsley to complement the heavenly brown butter sauce in which it’s prepared. Cooking the delicate catch in a skillet on the stove-top is an easy way to prepare the dish and keep it moist, plus clean up is a breeze. Serve alongside roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli for a quick yet elegant meal.


  • 1 to 1 1/2-pound whole fluke or flounder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped


  1. The hardest part of this recipe is skinning the whole flounder, so if you didn’t catch your own, ask your fish market to do it for you. Start by cutting off the fish’s head. Then make a little V-cut at the tail in order to loosen the skin enough to get a firm grip on it. Peel the skin back far enough to get your thumb under the loose skin. To prevent slipping, hold a towel in your hand as you grip the skin. In one strong swift motion, pull the skin away from the tail- it should come off in one piece. Flip the fish over and remove the skin from the other side. Trim the small bones away from the side of the fish, remove the roe sac (if any) and any viscera from the cavity. If necessary, cut off the tail of the fish so that it will fit into the pan. Rinse and dry the fish. Keep chilled until you are ready to cook.
  2. Adjust the racks in your oven to the lower positions and pre-heat the oven to 400° F.
  3. Place an empty 12-inch skillet on a burner over high heat for five minutes. Place the flour in a large shallow bowl or baking dish. Sprinkle the fish generously with salt and pepper and dredge it in the flour, turning it well to coat. Shake gently to remove excess. Add the oil to the hot skillet, lower the fish into the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-high (at this point you should simultaneously start step 4 - cooking the butter). Brown the fish on one side without turning, about 4 minutes. Turn the fish and place the skillet immediately in the oven. Roast until the fish until it is pure white and firm to the touch, about 8 minutes. When the fish is cooked, remove it to a platter and keep warm while you quickly finish the brown butter sauce.
  4. As soon as the whole fish goes into the pan, place the butter in an 8-inch skillet on another burner over a medium-low heat to melt. Cook the butter gently until it browns. Keep an eye on it, but let it cook undisturbed over low heat until it is nutty brown. This will take about 8 minutes, about the same time it takes to cook the fish.) When the butter is nutty brown, remove the skillet from the heat. Immediately add lemon juice, parsley, capers, and a pinch of salt. Pour the still-foaming butter into a sauce boat or bowl and spoon just a bit over the fish. Present the fish and allow a minute for your guest to admire it.
  5. To de-bone the fish, place an ordinary tablespoon in the center of the fish, near the head. With the spoon upside down, loosen the fillet, pushing in the direction away from the center of the fish. The bones on a flounder are very strong and won’t pull away with the meat. You should have no problem removing the 2 fillets on each side. After you have removed the meat to plates, spoon over the brown butter and enjoy this special treat. Notice how much more flavorful the fish is when cooked on the bone.

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