Whole Foods: Dover Sole With A Side Of Sticker Shock

There are a lot of different fish I’ve wanted to try, but most of the fish I eat are local or seasonal species. I’m also in a somewhat dire financial situation, which limits my family’s seafood purchases mostly to things I know will be eaten. I can’t afford expensive failed experiments. But for this blog to grow, I’m going to have to expand my horizons and start buying unfamiliar fish from different sellers so I can share my experiences. I don’t plan on adding Chilean sea bass or opah to my regular rotation, but I’m both curious and gluttonous, and I want to try it all…eventually.

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This nice looking Pacific Dover Sole was at an unbeatable price.

One of the places within driving distance that I can get various species of wild and farm-raised seafood is Whole Foods. The closest Whole Foods to me is twenty miles away, but the company has a fish plant down on the State Fish Pier in Gloucester. With their commitment to only selling what they deem sustainably caught or raised seafood, I figure it is probably the best way to try fish that I would not see otherwise. I don’t hold much faith in the trendy Eco-labels that you see on seafood these days, but it’s better than nothing when trying fish that is not local. In my case, I saw that they were having a sale on Pacific Dover sole, a popular flatfish named for a similarity with the more famous Dover sole of Europe. I’ve never had it and at $7 a pound it was a little less than what I usually pay for local haddock.

The haddock that Whole Foods had on sale was from Norway and at $15 a pound was almost twice as much I pay!

 

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$12 for tilapia? No tilapia is worth that.

As I looked around I saw prices way too rich for my blood. Arctic char is another fish I always wanted to try. But not when farm-raised Arctic char is selling for what I pay for wild Atlantic halibut. Don’t get me wrong, the place was magnificent, the fish was all top quality, but I can’t justify, nor afford, to spend twice as much on fish that I can get closer to home. I did not see any of our locally caught fish on display this day, but I do know fishermen who sell to Whole Foods. I’m curious to find out how much of a markup our local fish gets compared to the same fish sold by my local fish dealer of choice.

So enough about my grumbling about prices…how was the Pacific Dover sole?

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The fillets were nice and fresh looking, no dark spots or worms, with a nice clean smell. Some were thicker than others, but all the fillets were what I expect from a flounder sold as a sole. I didn’t really have a recipe planned out and with not a ton of ingredients in the house I came up with this:

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Recipe: Baked Pacific Dover Sole with Walnut/Cracker Topping

I didn’t want to duplicate the flounder fish pie, so instead of mashed potato topping I topped everything with a blend of walnut and Ritz crumbs for a familiar, but different take.

  • 2 lbs Pacific Dover sole fillets (any thin flounder fillets will work well)
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 3 Cloves of garlic
  • 2 Celery stalks
  • 1 Medium carrot
  • Approx 6 medium crimini mushrooms
  • Approx 1/2 cup walnuts
  • Approx 1/2 sleeve Ritz Crackers (or Saltines/panko/homemade crumbs)
  • 1 Large Lemon – juice and zest
  • Salt, Pepper, Italian herbs
  • Olive oil

Chop vegetables fine and saute in olive oil until nice and caramelized. Grease a baking sheet or large casserole. Season fillets with salt and pepper and layer the fish to cover the bottom, you may have enough fillets for a second layer. Squeeze some lemon juice on the fish before topping with vegetable mixture. Pulse the walnuts, crackers, herbs, zest and some lemon juice to a moist consistency. Cover everything, add more lemon juice if you like and put in a 375F oven for about 25 minutes or until everything is golden brown and bubbling.

The Verdict

The fish has a very mild sweetness that worked with the sautéed vegetables and the walnut crumbs. I can see a lot of fun variations of this topping, maybe adding different nuts or some parmesan cheese. My wife and I both really liked it, very similar to our local flounder, but when it comes to flounders sold as sole, I’ll take our local grey sole. That being said, for what I paid this Pacific Dover sole was a steal as it is a very good fish that normally fetches $13 a pound at Whole Foods.

 

One thought on “Whole Foods: Dover Sole With A Side Of Sticker Shock

  1. Pingback: Dover Sole From The Fish Society: A Wish Come True! | Buying Seafood

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