Frying fish at home can be intimidating. It takes multiple steps to get the coating to stick to your fillets, and normally you would have to rush through them while your oil’s at the right temperature. This recipe from the Institute of Culinary Education simplifies the process: Instead of dredging your fish within seconds of cooking it, you can bread the dish in advance.
If you’re new to frying on your stovestop, this recipe for cornmeal-breaded flounder is a great place to start. Begin by seasoning your flounder fillets with salt, pepper, and cayenne. (If you’re sensitive to heat, it’s fine to leave the chili powder out.) Next, set up three bowls with seasoned flour, beaten eggs, and cornmeal, respectively. Dredge the fillets through each dish, making sure to shake off the excess before moving it to the next one. Place them on a baking sheet and allow them to rest as you heat the oil in a large skillet.
“It’s not like a batter where you just drop it into hot oil,” ICE’s lead recreational chef-instructor Roger Sitrin tells Mental Floss. “This is a breading technique where you bread it then you let it rest. The resting period before you cook it stiffens up the coating, so it doesn’t fall off during cooking.”
This resting period can last all day if you need it to, but be sure to refrigerate the fillets for any period exceeding 30 minutes. Once your oil reaches frying temperature, add the fish and cook it for three minutes per side. You can keep the flounder warm in a 200º F oven as you move through the batches or allow it to cool to room temperature.
“What’s nice about this is that it doesn’t have to be eaten hot,” Sitrin says. “If you make them all up and they’re not exactly hot, room temperature is perfectly good for this. I’ve eaten these cold out of the refrigerator, and they’re delicious as well.”
With campuses in New York and Los Angeles, the Institute of Culinary Eduction is one of the world’s largest culinary schools. The bicoastal institution offers courses in the culinary arts, pastry and baking arts, and hospitality and hotel management. If you’re interested in learning more, you can view their online curricula here.
Cornmeal-Bread Flounder With Tartar Sauce
4 (6-ounce) flounder fillets
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
1 cup flour, mixed with 1 teaspoon pepper, for dredging
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup cornmeal, for dredging
½ cup vegetable oil
- Season the fillets with salt, pepper, and cayenne, if using. Place the seasoned flour, eggs, and cornmeal, each in individual bowls, from left to right, consecutively, on the counter. Dredge each of the fillets in the flour, shaking off any excess, then in the eggs, and finally in the cornmeal. Place the fillets on a baking sheet and reserve.
- Line a second baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200º F.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Working in batches, add the fillets and sauté until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the lined baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Serve with tartar sauce.
Makes about 1 cup
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon finely minced parsley
¼ teaspoon onion powder
Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.