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Ingredient

Flounder

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What is it?

Flounder is a type of flat fish. It has firm, flaky white flesh and a mild flavor.

How to choose:

A great fish has a glistening, take-me-home-I’m-delicious look that catches your eye. If you’re buying a whole fish, look for ones that have all of their scales intact, a sign of proper handling. The eyes are clear and bright, and the gills, if still intact, are either bright red or pale—never brown or grayish. Good fish are firm and resilient to the touch and their smell is clean, fresh, almost sweet. Never buy a fish that smells like a fish.

As with whole fish, quality fillets will have an appetizing aspect, and translucent flesh. As fillets begin to age, the translucent flesh turns opaque. A slippery feel and a shiny surface on otherwise opaque flesh probably means that the fish has been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP). Used to retard bacterial growth and moisture loss, STP can also suppress a fishy odor, but it adds a chemical taste to the fish. Fish processors commonly treat fillets with these additives, but they rarely inform their customers. If the quality of the fish is excellent to begin with, however, there’s no need to use STP or any other additive.

How to store:

Once you’ve bought fish, the most important thing is to keep the fish as cold as possible. If you aren’t going straight home from the market, or if you have a long trip, ask the fishmonger to pack a bag of ice with your fish. As soon as you get home, transfer the fish to your refrigerator. Put fillets and steaks in a plastic bag and set the bag on ice to maintain a temperature close to 33°F (spoilage occurs twice as fast at 40°F as it does at 32°). Avoid freezing fish at home—most residential freezers don’t freeze fast enough, which causes large ice crystals to form in the cells, damaging the flesh when it thaws. Instead, buy only what you need and use it as soon as possible.

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