The Christmas Flounder: Let Them Eat Fish

BY Bill Walsh

No one has yet been able to pinpoint when the Christmas flounder became a tradition along the southeastern coast but it seems as though it is unique to this part of the country according to those who have tried. No doubt the Great Depression was involved say those who work to keep the tradition alive. Those who were a bit down at the heel in those days — and who wasn’t — could land a flounder a whole lot cheaper than they could purchase a butterball. And once the fish was stuffed with all sorts of other wonderful local delicacies who would want fowl anyway?


Times have changed. A recent visit to the grocer revealed that a beautiful nice cleaned flounder big enough to stuff was selling for $5.99 a pound. In the freezer case beyond turkey could be had for a mere $1.99 a pound.


Times have changed a little bit in the preparation too. Chef Steve Hilla of Opus restaurant in Lumina Station put together an updated version of the traditional stuffed Christmas flounder loaded with crab lobster and shrimp and after sampling the magazine staff is wondering anew who wants fowl anyway?


Still traditionalists may want to stick with the traditional tried-and-true recipe of Susan Mitchell who sent us a favorite family recipe for flounder the old-fashioned way.


Either way enjoy.


Flounder Stuffed with Crabmeat



2 cups crabmeat
1 small onion finely chopped
1 small bell pepper finely chopped
1 raw egg slightly beaten
½ stick butter
1 small can evaporated milk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Worcestershire salt and hot sauce to taste
1 sleeve of saltine crackers
4-5 strips bacon


Crush up the saltine crackers and soak in the evaporated milk. Add all other ingredients. Stuff the mixture in a pocketed flounder. Place the bacon strips across the flounder and cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour. You may watch for doneness after 45 minutes depending on the size of your flounder.



Susan Mitchell from Cleta McLendon


 



Flounder Goes Upscale



For the stuffing:


1 lb jumbo lump crab
½ lb fresh white bread cubed small
2 medium yellow onions diced small
½ lb bacon cooked crisp then crushed
2 cups Shitake mushrooms sliced
¼ cup carrots diced small
¼ cup parsnips diced small
¼ cup celery root diced small
½ lb butter cold and cubed
1 cup dry white wine
¼ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
2 tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs
Fresh chopped herbs (thyme tarragon
dill & chives) and salt & white pepper to taste.



For the topping:
6 very large shrimp butterflied
1 whole lobster removed from the shell
Grated Parmesan cheese fresh chopped herbs
(thyme tarragon dill & chives) to taste.


To prepare the stuffing:


Sauté the vegetables in the canola oil. Add the bacon and wine. Once the liquid comes to a simmer add the crab butter lemon juice soy sauce and crab meat. Once the butter has just melted remove from heat and add the bread herbs and seasonings. Cool for about 1 hour.


To stuff the flounder:


Start with a large flounder that has been dressed (scraped of scales cleaned no fins). Along the side with both eyes cut along the obvious lateral line from head to tail. Your knife will be stopped by the bones in the middle so there is very little chance of cutting too deep. Cut along the interior bones in one upward and one downward motion just slightly as if you where going to remove the fillet but only go a little more that halfway. Fold back the fillet to create the cavity for stuffing. Season the fish with salt pepper and lemon juice.


Place the crab mixture in the cavity of the flounder. Arrange the butterflied shrimp & lobster onto the stuffing. Sprinkle with the herbs and cheese. Roast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.



vegetables in the canola oil. Add the bacon and wine. Once the liquid comes to a simmer add the crab butter lemon juice soy sauce and crab meat. Once the butter has just melted remove from heat and add the bread herbs and seasonings. Cool for about 1 hour.


To stuff the flounder:


Start with a large flounder that has been dressed (scraped of scales cleaned no fins). Along the side with both eyes cut along the obvious lateral line from head to tail. Your knife will be stopped by the bones in the middle so there is very little chance of cutting too deep. Cut along the interior bones in one upward and one downward motion just slightly as if you where going to remove the fillet but only go a little more that halfway. Fold back the fillet to create the cavity for stuffing. Season the fish with salt pepper and lemon juice.


Place the crab mixture in the cavity of the flounder. Arrange the butterflied shrimp & lobster onto the stuffing. Sprinkle with the herbs and cheese. Roast at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.