Garlic and Parmesan Crusted Flounder with Lemon Zest

Vertical finished flounder with full size serving plate

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Fish is not always the first choice in our house. Ziba tends to have a mild reaction to most seafood, especially shellfish, so we tend to distance ourselves from such ingredients. However, I was at the store and saw that flounder was wild caught, not previously frozen, and a simple white fish, which tends to be her safest choice outside of salmon, so we went for it! And to our surprise it was a success, so we decided to get some more and do a delicious recipe!

I am definitely more of seafood fan. I love just about everything from the ocean, and sushi is such a wonderful delight. One of the many things I miss from San Diego… the abundance of salt water aquatic delicacies. I am all about lobster, shrimp, crab, mussels, scallops, octopus, and of course the endless varieties of absolutely delicious fish, too include one of my favorites, Mako or Thresher shark, if you can find it.

Stay away from fish that is farm raised, dyed, and if it can be avoided, previously frozen. The fresher, to include its natural environment, the better!

Fish are one of those ingredients that can end badly. There is only a small amount of margin for error. They cook fast, they are delicate, and they can easily go bad, but if you are willing to step up your cooking skills and challenge yourself, I recommend you try this recipe. Please know this recipe will work with just about any white fish, such as tilapia, cod, haddock, pollock, halibut (one of the best), bass, and even grouper. But I found the flounder to be the best quality for our fish budget!

Here are a few things I have learned when cooking fish. Never refreeze after you have bought it from the supermarket or fishery. Take it out of its packaging, pat it dry and let is sit in the fridge for a day. This will help remove that overwhelming fishy smell. This is something Ziba is not so inclined to enjoy, however, I always tell her, if fish does not smell like fish, do not eat it. Be careful with fish. Do not handle it like beef or chicken, it will fall apart. Always check for bones, and remember that it will cook significantly faster than most common meats such as chicken, pork, and beef. And last but not least, give it a drizzle of lemon before and after cooking!

We hope that you can really enjoy something different and new with those you love. This is a wonderful way to introduce children to seafood as it is not very fishy, nor a severe allergy indicator. Jude, our 3 year old, and Ruby, our 1 year old, both love this recipe with a side of broccoli and risotto. So give it a try and if you fail, its okay, try again!

Family Table Talk for Lemon Zest Crusted Flounder

Garlic and Parmesan Crusted Flounder with Lemon Zest

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Remember that fish is suppose to taste like fish! It is a taste that can be desired and enjoyed, I promise. Start with white fish as it is the most simplex, and expand from there!


1 – 1 1/2 pounds of flounder (roughly 6 fillets), wild caught

4 tbsp of olive or grapeseed oil, separated

1 tsp of sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs**

2/3 cup parmesan, freshly grated

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 lemon, zested and juiced, additional lemon for serving

cilantro, chopped for garnish


  1. 24 Prep: If at all possible, buy your fish a day early, pat it dry, and leave it uncovered on a bed of paper towels to help release some of the added moisture in the fish. Remember it lives in the water so it is overtly saturated. Also, this will help remove the overwhelming ‘fishy’ smell that comes with wet fish, stuffed in a bag and wrapped in brown paper. If you cannot do this 24 hours ahead of cooking, try to at least pat dry the fish a few hour in advance. This is also the time to inspect the fish for any bones that may not have been removed.
  2. Preheat your oven to 425F degree and without any barrier, grease a rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of grapeseed or olive oil. Set aside.
  3. With the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, gently cover your fish, and then season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. In a flat bottom dish, mix together the minced garlic, bread crumbs, grated parmesan, paprika and cayenne, and lemon zest. Toss to thoroughly combine. Now taking each piece of fish, place inside the crusting dish and press the mixture onto the fish. flip the fillet over and crust the other side. Do each fillet of fish and add to pre-oiled baking sheet. Once all the fish has been crusted and added to the baking sheet, lightly cover them with the lemon juice. If a second baking sheet is needed, coat again with 2 more tablespoons of oil and continue with the process.
  5. Place the fish on the middle rack of the oven, one pan at a time if there is more than one, for 20 minutes. There is no need to flip the fish. It will come out opaque, flaky, and perfectly crispy. Garnish with chopped cilantro, extra lemon, and eat immediately with a side of veggies.

*Again, find fish that is wild caught, not farmed or dyed, and try to get it fresh, not previously frozen. Also any white fish will work for this recipe. You could even do salmon if you so desire.

**I like panko breadcrumbs but any breadcrumbs will do! Just mix and press them on to your fish

In this recipe, the cayenne pepper does not add any heat, it just emboldens your flavors. However, if you are weary, it can be omitted.

Finished flounder with full size serving plate

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