Discovering new seafood recipes is easier than it’s ever been before. Not only can cookbooks be accessed with the click of a button, but a quick online search will yield thousands and thousands of results. The problem is, many of the recipes available today simply ask you to use “white fish.” This begs the question: what are the best white fish to cook with?
Before we answer that, let’s align on what white fish are. Simply put, the term “white fish” refers to any saltwater or freshwater species that has a white flesh (opposed to a red flesh like tuna or salmon). While each type of white fish is different, most are high in protein, low in fat and have a mild taste. In addition, white fish species like Tilapia:
- Can be caught or raised responsibly.
- Often cost less than other proteins, such as beef.
- Pair well with various cuisines, from Italian to Thai.
- Contain essential nutrients such as vitamin B, selenium and omega fatty acids.
The next time you plan on making a recipe that calls for white fish, try cooking with one of the five species listed below.
Low in saturated fat and packed with protein (approximately 20 grams per serving), Tilapia is a delicious and healthy choice. And because it’s such a lean fish, there’s no shortage of ways to cook with it: you can prepare it using a variety of techniques, from baking and broiling to grilling and roasting. Plus, it has a mild flavor profile that will pair perfectly with any recipe’s additional ingredients. Just remember to keep your eye on the clock when making this fish at home, since some cuts will cook faster than others.
Cod, a type of round fish, has a delicate, flaky texture and subtly sweet taste. It’s why it’s a great option for anyone who’s just beginning to cook and eat seafood. Like Tilapia, it can easily absorb other flavors in a dish. Try using it in your favorite seafood soups and stews, or in any recipe for baked or fried fish—it’s hardy enough to stand up to each of these cooking methods (and more).
Unlike cod, halibut is a type of flatfish. But not just any kind of flatfish: it’s one of the largest in the world, often growing to over six feet in length. This white fish is loved for its size, flavor and meaty texture. Because of these qualities, you do have to take extra care when cooking—the last thing you want to eat is a piece of dry, overcooked halibut. Steaming and poaching are your safest bets, but this fish can also be seared in a frying pan.
“Flounder” refers to a variety of flatfish species such as sole, fluke and dab. While halibut is also considered a flatfish, flounder are typically smaller and rounder. Some also have a much more delicate and flaky texture than halibut. Don’t let that fool you though: they’re just as versatile as the other white fish on this list. You can steam, bake or sautée them with ease. They do tend to cook quickly, so make sure to follow your recipes carefully.
Last but not least: haddock. Haddock is another popular round fish and, like cod, is commonly used as the main ingredient in fish and chips recipes. It has a mild flavor, and firm texture that can handle being dredged in batter. Haddock is also a great choice if you like smoked fish. Try cooking it with a hot smoker, or use a smoking gun to inject some extra flavor.
With this list of white fish, you should have no problem figuring out which one will work in your favorite seafood recipes. But honestly, there’s really no wrong choice.
Still not sure where to start? Learn more about the best fish for frying, steaming and poaching.
Photo Credits: Chatham172 / Shutterstock Inc., Grace Hua2021 / Shutterstock Inc., Candice Bell / Shutterstock Inc., gowithstock / Shutterstock Inc.