Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Golden Cornmeal-Crusted Quick-Fry Flounder

Kendra Bailey Morris
So, last night the hubby and I had a hankering for a big piece of fresh fish and the conversation went like this,

Hubs: "What you want for dinner?
Me: "Man, I would love a big piece of fresh fish."
Hubs: "Aww yeee. Do it."

So, off we set to our favorite place in the Richmond area to buy fish Yellow Umbrella Seafood where we know we will get the freshest goodies in town. When it comes to fresh seafood, like many people, I'm a stickler and I don't mind paying top dollar to get what I want. While our first preference is to catch our dinner...
Fishing in Avon, Hatteras Island, NC
and then whip up a little ditty back at the homestead...

unless we're pirating another family's vacation home in the OBX, the majority of the time, we are left to purchase our saltwater treats.

When it comes to fishing, fish and all the jazz, I like to keep things simple, especially when you're working with seafood that was pulled from the water merely hours  before. This stuff is so fresh, so packed with the essence of the sea, it would be a culinary crime to over season, over flavor or generally overdo it in any way. This is why, when I can get my hands on a hunk of fresh flounder, Virginia-caught rockfish, mahi or Wahoo, I ain't messing with it.  Give me some cornmeal, milk (or buttermilk), a vat of Crisco and a cast iron pot, and I'll make you dinner.

My dad is a fried seafood expert, and I learned from him the art of lightly dusting my fish, oysters, shrimp, etc... in real stone ground cornmeal (not the super fine stuff, by the way) that he would buy up in cases from an old gristmill on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mabry Mill. Mabry Mill makes real deal cornmeal that's packed with just enough to the tooth crunch that it livens up any standard breading.

Dipped in milk and then dredged in a mixture of self-rising cornbread mix (for fluff) and stone ground cornmeal, we fry our fish exclusively Crisco in cast iron. With that in mind, let me suggest that if you choose to make this recipe at home, and are one those people who happen to have an aversion to shortening (as some people do...wha?) might I suggest two options for you: get the heck over it and stick to steaming your fish.

This recipe is fried goodness in all its glory, so either dive in head first and enjoy the ride or hop off the boat.

Golden Cornmeal-Crusted Quick-Fry Flounder
Adapted from "White Trash Gatherings: From-Scratch Cooking for Down-Home Entertaining, Ten Speed Press, 2006)

Serves 4

1/2 cup white stone ground cornmeal
1/3 cup yellow self-rising cornbread mix
Pinch of salt (and/or Old Bay)
3/4 cup milk (or buttermilk)
One pound fresh flounder (or other white fish)
Shortening, for frying

Preheat a large cast iron pan to medium-high.  Add about a 1/4 inch of melted shortening to the pan. In a medium flat-bottomed bowl, mix cornmeal and cornbread mix.  Add a little salt and/or Old Bay.  Pour milk in a separate flat pan. Place flounder in milk and soak for a few minutes. Then dredge in cornmeal mixture.  Fry fish skin-side down in hot oil until crunchy and crispy. Drain on paper towels and season with a little more salt.

Serve your fish with homemade tartar sauce.

Note: This fish recipe is excellent for fish sandwiches (on a roll with lettuce, tomato and tartar) or stuffed inside a warm soft flour tortilla topped with crunchy slaw, pico de gallo, a squeeze of fresh lime and Mexican crema. Pin It Now!


  1. Yellow Umbrella is fresher the Whole Foods? Hmm. I'd rather not give John Mackey doodly squat. I knew of him before he became a true megalomaniac years ago in Austin. He was a creep even then.

  2. Hmmmm. Kinda confused here. Yellow Umbrella seafood is an independently owned business in Richmond, and as far as I know, not connected to Mackey or Whole Foods in anyway. There's a link to their info. in the post, btw.

  3. I have been looking for a better breading for my fried striper, flounder and other whitefish- this looks great. I like to make home-made gourmet fish sticks for the kids ( and me) and this looks like it may work well for that.
    Also, not sure what the first poster is talking about. Think they may have their cities mixed up. I go to Yellow Umbrella as well and love it- they pull a lot of their stuff right out of the Chesapeake- crabs, rockfish, flounder, etc.

  4. So glad to find your blog and to find someone who really appreciates good southern and country cooking. I love the taste of hand-picked and shelled butterbeans cooked with fatback. Yum, wish I had some right now!

  5. Thanks so much, simplyred. As for butterbeans? One of my favs and something that only comes around once a year. There's something really relaxing about shelling beans, too :)

  6. Glad to find your blog from 'the connection'.
    Hope you get to try some 'NC Rockfish'.
    Weldon, NC(up the Roanoke River) is the rockfish capital of the world! Ask anybody... :~)
    My daddy made a rock muddle to die for!
    Wish I could duplicate it.
    Had a fried mullet sandwich for lunch. This is my kinda'blog!
    Ever heard of dandoodle and grass? Northampton Co., NC dish.
    I'm enjoying your blog, thanks.

  7. Hi Woodduck,
    Thanks for writing. Never had dandoodle and grass, but would love to hear about it. I've heard great things about the rockfishing in NC (one of our fav things to do). We have a friend on the Northern Neck of Va who takes us out into the Bay for Rockfishing from time to time. So much fun!



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