Recipes for the Smaller Flatfish — Sanddab, Sole, Flounder and Turbot

Ken Jones

Staff member
McClane’ s Fish Buyer’s Guide: Pacific Sanddab — (A) Flavor: mild (B) Texture: soft (C) Flake: fine (D) Fat Content: low (E) Odor (Raw): moderate: (F) Color after Cooking: white (G) Cooking Methods: pan-saute or deep-fry

McClane’ s Fish Buyer’s Guide: Starry Flounder — (A) Flavor: mild (B) Texture: soft (C) Flake: small (D) Fat Content: low (E) Odor (Raw): mild: (F) Color after Cooking: white (G) Cooking Methods: pan-saute or deep-fry

McClane’ s Fish Buyer’s Guide: Diamond Turbot — (A) Flavor: mild (B) Texture: soft (C) Flake: fine (D) Fat Content: very low (E) Odor (Raw): mild: (F) Color after Cooking: white (G) Cooking Methods: all methods

Posted by Ken Jones

From Pier Fishing In California, 2nd Ed. — While living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the '70s, my wife Pat and I took a cooking class given by Jennie Low, the author of the popular Chinese cookbook, Chopsticks, Cleaver and Wok. Later, after we bought a restaurant in Boonville, we used many of her recipes and techniques in "special" gourmet Chinese banquets. This is a simple but tasty way to cook sanddabs, small flounder, sole or turbot. (Jennie, by the way, now owns and operates two restaurants in Marin County; restaurants voted in as the best Chinese restaurants in that North Bay area.)

Steamed Sabddab


2 sanddabs
1 tablespoon bean sauce (canned)
3 thin slices ginger, slivered
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon thin soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
dash of pepper
1 tablespoon oil


Remove the fins and tails, rinse, and cut each fish into 3 equal parts. Rinse the bean sauce in a small amount of water, drain and mash into a paste. Add the salt, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, pepper, bean sauce, ginger, green onion and oil to the fish in that order. Steam for about 10 minutes. This same recipe may be used with many types of fish including perch. It is a tasty dish and is best served with steamed rice.

From Pier Fishing In California, 2nd Ed. — Sometimes a fish can look as well as taste delicious. This simple recipe calls for a whole flounder but you can use a decent-size sole, turbot or small (legal-size) halibut. The ideal size fish is one which just fills a large platter and is roughly an inch thick. You can use small fish (including) sand dabs but it is hard with the thinner fish to get the skin crusty and the flesh flaky; too often the meat is overcooked.

Broiled Flounder


Whole flatfish approximately 16 - 24 inches long
Slight amount of salt, pepper, tarragon and rosemary
Melted butter
Lemon juice


Preheat the broiler. Slice along the fins of the flatfish (so that the inner bones are easier to remove after cooking) but leave the head and tail on. Next, slash diagonally through the top skin at intervals so that the butter and seasoning can get into the flesh.
Sprinkle a mixture of salt, pepper, tarragon and rosemary over the fish.
Brush the fish thoroughly with melted butter and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the fish.
Oil (just a little bit) a pan and then preheat the pan under a broiler.
Remove the pan from the oven and place the flatfish in the pan. Broil the fish but baste with butter at intervals.
Check for doneness; the flesh should be flaky but not dried out.

From Pier Fishing In California, 2nd Ed. — A fancier and very filling cousin of the above recipe is this presentation of flounder. I first had this (or a similar recipe) at Mary Mahoney's Old French House near Biloxi, Mississippi, a famous restaurant. Today, I prepare it myself when I want to impress a guest. It is very good but takes a good-sized flounder or sole or a medium-sized halibut.

Broiled Stuffed Flounder


2 sticks sweet butter
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup flour
1 cup cream
1 cup fish (or chicken) stock
1/4 cup white wine
1 pint crab meat (or artificial crab meat, although it isn't nearly as good)
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
unseasoned bread crumbs


Melt the butter in a large sauté pan. Add the onions, celery and garlic and sauté till golden. Blend in the flour with a wooden spoon and then add the cream slowly, blending all the while.
Next stir in the stock and the white wine, and when it is well mixed and smooth, add the crab meat (and pieces of shrimp if you like) and the chopped parsley, tarragon and seasoning. Stir a little of the hot creamy sauce into the egg, and then pour the egg back into the sauce, stirring well. Cook down until well thickened. Stir in bread crumbs until you have the consistency of stuffing.

Use one flounder (flatfish) per person. To prepare the flounder make a pocket for the stuffing by cutting through the skin in the middle of the fish, beginning at the fins and following the bones down the center. Rub seasoning mix, made up of salt, cayenne and black pepper, tarragon and onion salt, and rub into the cavity and all over the skin of the fish on both sides.

Stuff the cavity of the fish with the filling and top with bread crumbs. Put the flounder in an oiled baking pan that has been preheated under the broiler. Put the pan back into the oven and leave for 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

Posted by Ken Jones May 26, 2004

What's your best recipe for the smaller flatfish — sole, flounder and turbot?

Posted by tranbaby2

Dusted with salt and peppered cornstarch and then lightly fried until crisp. Served as is or with a sweet and sour soy sauce.

Posted by scooterfish

Scooter's Stuffed Flatfish

Flounder and other smaller flatfishes 12-20 inches long are excellent for this method, and it's pretty easy to prepare once you get it.

Remove the innards as normal, but leave the fish whole. Scale the top of the fish (bottom optional). Make a narrow "V" cut down the length of the spine from the gill plate (beginning of the fillet) up to the skinny meat of the tail. Starting at the beginning of the filet, slice very carefully underneath the fillets towards the outer edge of the fish, forming a deep "pocket" on each side. Be careful to keep the knife underneath the filet, this takes some practice. I like to slice right up to the outer edge as close as possible to make a bigger pocket, but you don't want to puncture the skin if possible. If you are "all pro" with a filet knife, I suppose you can forego the "V" cut if you don't need it to accomplish the pocketing (makes it easier for me to wield the knife).

OK... now you have pockets on the left and right sides of your fish... STUFF EM!! pack those pockets full of the following stuffing, or similar stuffing (even turkey stuffing works well! ;-).... Drizzle a little olive oil on top, some Cajun spices and throw some lemon or lime slices down the center and bake for 30-35 minutes @350f on a greased baking pan... serve immediately. My favorite presentation is to make a single, whole flounder for each guest.

PS... I can also imagine this done on a slightly grander scale with a just-legal halibut as well...

Generic Crabmeat Stuffing, modify as you please!

Yield - about 4 Cups


1 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Large yellow onion (chopped)
3 Stalks celery (chopped)
1 Tbsp fresh garlic (minced)
1/2 Cup dry white wine
1/2 Tsp white pepper
1/2 Tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 Tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 Tsp whole thyme leaves
1 Tsp whole oregano leaves
1 Lb crab claw meat
2 Cups seasoned bread crumbs
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Large eggs (beaten)
1/4 Bunch fresh parsley (chopped)
3/4 Cup grated Romano cheese


In a large skillet and over medium heat add olive oil, onions and celery; sauté until onions turn clear (about 5- 7 minutes). Add garlic, wine and all of the seasonings, simmer until the sauce reduces by one third.

Remove from heat, gently fold in the crab meat and remaining ingredients; stuffing should be used immediately or refrigerated.

Posted by Snakeman70

Pan-fried flatfish fillets


1 Egg
1/4 Milk
1 Cup seasoned Bread Crumbs (Bread Crumbs, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, paprika)
4 flatfish fillets, skinned
2 tbsp of Olive Oil


Add oil to cast iron skillet, turn stove burner to high.
Beat egg in bowl, add milk. Mix thoroughly.
Use a Zip-lock bag and for the bread crumbs. Dip fillets in egg/milk mixture, place into zippy bag and thoroughly coat fish fillets.
Reduce heat to medium and place fillets into pan, cook 2 minutes on each side or until flaky.

Posted by frozendog

Pan-sauted flatfish fillets

Beaten egg thinned with fruit juice or milk or chic stock. Dip in italian breadcrumbs with added Parmesan cheese and saute gently in butter in a non-stick pan. Turn over and put the lid on pan and turn off heat and let steam till done. If you added chicken stock to egg wash add more egg and make a quick omlet or scrambled eggs or egg foo young in same pan.
Gentle saute whole, and ...

Posted by blahblahblah

This is what I do with sand dabs, but it will work for any small flatfish or even fillets of larger sole, etc.:


If the fish has been iced or refrigerated, allow it to come close to room temperature before cooking.

Cut out the gut pocket and trim any odd bits of long fins, and check skin and gill chambers thoroughly for isopods. Wash well, but don't be rough with the fish.

Leave head and tail on.

Pat dry and lightly dust with seasoned flour. Meanwhile, heat equal parts butter and olive oil (the stuff in the big can will do, no need to use the extra-virgin for this) over medium heat in a pan big enough to hold all the fish without touching too much (or use more pans if you want to have more fish but want everything done at the same time).


When the oil and butter start to foam, turn down the heat a bit and gently place the fish in the pan. While it's cooking, drain some capers (The salted ones are best, but need to be soaked first. The ones that come in a jar of brine are easier). Also, use moderate pressure to roll a lemon on a cutting board, or nuke it for 10 seconds, or both.

By then it's time to turn the fish, which should be done very gently. Cook for another minute or so, and remove the fish to a warm plate.

Turn up the heat in the pans, adding more olive oil if necessary. When pan and oil are hot but not smoking, throw in the capers and fry until they start to pop open. Squeeze half a lemon into the pan (watch out, it'll pop and spit), plus a knob of butter and swirl until the butter melts in. Pour sauce over the fish or hold some back if you want to cut down on fat, but don't leave the capers behind! Sprinkle chopped parsley on top if you like -- the proper flat kind, please, not the nasty crinkly stuff.

Serve with good crusty bread, some pasta, and whatever vegetables are in season and good. I like artichokes or swiss chard if I can get them. Freshly picked peas are good, too. Also offer a good balanced beer like Anchor Steam (as much as I love my Booneville Hop Ottin, the hops are too strong for this), or a vino verde, white Bordeaux or Big House white.

Variations are possible, of course. Try adding some red pepper flakes or chopped parsley to the sauce, or add some wine as you add the lemon and butter at the end. Or make it up as you go along.

Posted by Jimbojack


I fillet them and then while damp, dip or dust them with a fine flour like Wondra or cake flour or tempura flour. Garlic salt and pepper. Fry quickly in butter until brown and crisp. Jim

Other Recipes

Posted by garth

All righty. Kinda long but blew me away with Epicurean joy:

Fish and Chips


1 1/2 LB sole fillet -- skinned
lemon juice
salt and white pepper
1/4 cup flour

oil for frying

1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. oil
3/4 cup good darkish lager (I like Sam Adams)
1 egg white
pinch sugar


1. Wash fish fillets in lemon and water.
2. Season with salt and pepper. Chill while you prepare the batter.

1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water. Let stand until dissolved.
2. Place flour in a bowl with the salt and sugar and make a well in the center. Add the dissolved yeast, oil and 2/3 of the beer and stir with a wooden spoon just to combine. Stir in remaining beer.
3. Let the batter stand, covered, in a warm place 30 to 35 minutes, until it has thickened and becomes frothy
4. Dry fish with paper towels and cut each fillet diagonally in 2 pieces.
5. Heat the oven to warm
6. Stir together remaining flour, pepper and sal in a plate. Heat the oil
7. Whip egg white until it forms soft peaks and fold it into the batter.
8. Coat fish with seasoned flour, patting so they are evenly coated.
9. Shake off excess flour.
10. Using a 2 pronged fork dip the fish in the batter. Lift it out and hold it over the bowl 5 seconds to drip off excess batter.
11. Carefully lower the piece of fish into the hot oil and deep fry, turning once until golden brown and crisp.
12. Fry one or two pieces at a time, transferring to paper towels as you go.
13. Keep warm in the oven until all fish is done, or until you finish frying the potatoes (separate recipe).
14. Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.

Here's a handy order of cooking for a fat meal
1. Make the tartar sauce and chill
1. Peel and cut potatoes
2. Soak them in very cold water ( I placed ice cubes in the water).
3. prepare batter.
4.Wash fish and season.
5. Drain and cook potatoes in plenty of hot oil, just until partially cooked. Drain to paper towels.
6. Fry fish
7. Fry potatoes, until golden
8. Drain in paper towels.

Posted by kin

Man, I’m drooling on my keyboard Garth!! By the way, how do you make the tartar sauce?

Posted by garth

I usually just buy tartar sauce, if I use it. Here's a rec I hunted down:

1 c Mayonnaise
3 TB Gherkins, chopped
1 TB Capers, chopped
1 TB Parsley, chopped
2 TB Stuffed olives, chopped
1 TB Shallots, chopped

Mix and chill, enjoy. But, to be sure, they're best with Salt & Vinegar, or maybe HP sauce. I copied the rec for the F'n'C from my computer recipe list I keep, so the tartar sauce was in there in the prep list. I freakin' love cooking.

Not sure who posted these recipes —

Curry-flavored Flounder


1 pound flounder fillets
1 tablespoon lemon juice, strained
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons curry powder
4 tablespoons flour
¼ teaspoon chili pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup warm water
2 teaspoons minced parsley
3 cups oil


Separate flounder into small, thin fillets. Wipe dry, dredge with lemon juice, salt, and curry. Stir flour, chili powder, pepper, and salt into water, and add half the parsley.

Place oil, fish fillets, batter by the stove, along with a Chinese sieve or slotted spoon.

Line serving platter with paper towel and set in 250 degree oven.

Set wok over heat for 30 seconds, add oil and heat to 375 degrees. Coat fillets lightly with batter, slide into oil, cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Only do as many at a time as will float in the wok. Remove gently with sieve, drain, keep warm until all are done.

Remove paper from serving dish, arrange fillets decoratively, garnish with remaining parsley, and serve at once.

Serves two to three people.

Flounder With Pineapple


2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 scallion, shredded
1 ½ pounds flounder fillets
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
2 eggs, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup pineapple syrup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup pineapple chunks, unsweetened


In a medium bowl mix soy sauce, salt, sherry, scallion, and flounder cut into 1 ½-inch chunks.

Place by stove with cornstarch mixed with water and eggs in a large, flat-bottomed bowl. Have handy oil, pineapple syrup, sugar, and pineapple chunks, drained.

Place serving dish lined with paper towel in oven at 250 degrees.

Set wok over high heat for 30 seconds, swirl in oil, count to twenty. Dip each fish chunk in cornstarch mixture, toss into oil and stir-fry about 4 minutes; transfer to heated serving dish.

Add syrup to remaining cornstarch, mix, turn into wok with sugar and fruit chunks. If too thick, add a little more syrup or water.

Remove paper from serving dish, pour sauce over fish chunks, and serve at once.

Serves 4 to 6.
Last edited:

Ken Jones

Staff member
Posted by Ken Jones

One of the easiest recipes for thin fillets of sole, turbot or flounder is the following and I make it quite often (especially when I am dieting). It's an old recipe that used to be seen in many restaurants but I haven't noticed it on too many recent menus (tastes change).

Fillet of Sole Amandine


4 fillets of sole
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp oil
3 tbsp slivered almonds
salt and pepper (to taste)
paprika (to taste)
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped) — optional


* Season fillet with salt, pepper and paprika
• Dredge fillets in flour
• Heat butter in a frying pan over moderate-high heat. Add fish and cook about two minutes. Turn fillets over and continue cooking two more minutes.
* Transfer fillets to a heated serving dish.
• Add almonds, parsley and lemon juice to the frying pan; cook one minute over high heat.
Spoon the lemon juice and almonds over the fillets and serve at once.
Last edited:

Ken Jones

Staff member
Posted by Ken Jones

The following recipe is a little more complex than some only because it contains a few ingredients that may not be in your cupboard. However, the actual preparation and cooking is pretty simple. It works well with the thin fillets found in sole, starry flounder and diamond turbot but will also work well with thin fillets from almost any mild, white fleshed fish, i.e., bass, rockfish, and greenling.

Orange Glazed Sole

Recipe from Lue Park, Galley Gourmet, Western Saltwater Angler



• 2 pounds sole fillets
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 2 tablespoons orange juice
• ½ teaspoon salt
• dash pepper
• Orange Glaze


• Rinse fillets with cold water; pat dry with paper towels
• Cut in serving size portions
• Oil broiler pan
• Place fillets in a single layer on broiler pan
• Combine butter and orange juice; brush over fillets
• Sprinkle with salt and pepper
• Broil about 4 inches from source of heat for 6 minutes
• Baste with Orange Glaze
• Continue cooking for 2 to 4 minutes, or until fillets flake easily when tested with a fork
• Transfer to warm serving tray
• Serve with remaining Orange Glaze

* Orange Glaze (A West Coast Fisheries Development Foundation Recipe)


• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1 cup orange juice
• ¼ cup butter
• 1/3 cup sliced almonds
• ¼ cup dry white wine
• ¼ cup apple jelly
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• ¼ teaspoon liquid hot pepper sauce
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
• 2/3 cup canned drained mandarin orange sections


• Combine cornstarch with ¼ cup orange juice, set aside
• In medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter
• Add almonds and sauté until slightly browned
• Add remaining orange juice, wine, jelly and lemon juice; heat to just boiling
• Stir in cornstarch mixture; continue cooking, stirring constantly until mixture thickens
• Add liquid hot pepper sauce, salt, orange rind and orange sections; mix well
• Reduce heat to low and keep warm until serving