There are many kinds of fish that fall under the umbrella of “white fish”, including cod, sole, and halibut. There’s also a type of white fish called whitefish – thought that’s not one we usually stock. But what does it mean when a recipe calls for “white fish”?

Generally white fish in a recipe refers to a mildly flavored, quick-cooking fish that turns white when it is cooked. Popular kinds of white fish are, cod, bass, sole grouper, haddock, snapper, and more, and they are great for frying, searing, using in soups and chowders, and baking.

Often times these fish are interchangeable, although it does depend on the recipe. Pay special attention to the size - if a recipe says that the fillets should be a certain thickness, this thickness is really important since it’s tied to how long something takes to cook. Prioritize buying a white fish of the specified thickness in the recipe.

If a recipe has lots of other ingredients in it and the fish isn’t necessarily the only shining part of it, then you can go for any available fish. But if there are very few ingredients and the main focus is the fish, then you need the right type for the dish. You don’t want to grill a flaky and delicate sole with a spicy marinade for example, however this is a perfect way to cook a halibut.

There are some recipes where you can use different fish, if you’re prepared for the dish to be very different in texture and taste. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just won’t be the intended meal. An example of this is Sole Meuniere.

In Sole Meunière, a Dover Sole is the intended fish because of its delicate flavour and texture; it doesn’t need anything more than salt and butter to make it delicious. But this method of cooking would also be good on any white fish – although the cooking time may need to increase due to the thickness of the fillet and it will be a different texture depending on the fish used. Still, any fish cooked in butter is going to turn out tasty!

Sole Meunière Recipe


  • 4 Dover Sole Fillets
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • ½ cup butter
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


In a shallow bowl mix together the flour, salt, and pepper. Pat dry the Dover sole fillets and cover with the flour.

In a large skillet melt ¼ cup butter over medium-high heat. When foaming shake off the excess flour of the fish and add to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip over and cook a further 1-2 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and add in the remaining ¼ butter and lemon juice. Stir to melt the butter and pour over the fish. Serve sprinkled with parsley and lemon wedges.

Steamed Crab at the Kitchen

Don’t feel like cooking? Come to our restaurant and let us do the work for you! As it is crab season, why not come and try our delicious Steamed Dungeness Crab? It’s only market price + $2.00, or if you’d like it with lemon, butter, and bread it’s market price + $5.00.