What Is Sole Fish?

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Sole is a fish prized for its mild, delicate flavor. It is an ocean fish of the flatfish family. Commercially harvested sole in the U.S. are trawled from the west coast (petrale sole, dover sole and flathead sole) and marginally from the east coast (grey sole).

Fired sole fish.
Fired sole fish.

Habitat

The native habitat of the sole is the north Pacific, from Japan, across the Bering Sea and to the coast of North America, as far south as Point Reyes, California.

North Pacific
North Pacific

Method of Catch

Most sole are caught via trawlers, which are fishing boats that drag nets on or near the ocean floor. They are also caught by long line, gigging and hook-and-line methods.

Most sole are caught via trawlers.
Most sole are caught via trawlers.

Characteristics

Sole have both eyes on one side of the head—they lay on the ocean floor and look up to seek prey. The top of the fish is dark, which helps camouflage it from predators, and the bottom is white.

Sole lay on the ocean floor and look up to seek prey.
Sole lay on the ocean floor and look up to seek prey.

Diet

Flatfish eat shellfish and crustaceans when they are young, and add live fish to the menu when they mature. Soles feed intensely in June, July and September, when they are in shallow waters.

Flatfish eat shellfish and crustaceans when they are young.
Flatfish eat shellfish and crustaceans when they are young.

Cooking

Whole sole range in size from 1 to 5 pounds. Fillets are very thin, and can be quickly pan-fried or pan sauteed (2 to 3 minutes per side), or baked with herbs at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. It's done when you can flake the thick end with a fork.

Fillets are very thin, and can be quickly pan-fried or pan sauteed.
Fillets are very thin, and can be quickly pan-fried or pan sauteed.

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