Seafood: Sole, Petrale

Sole, Petrale

The waters off the West Coast and Alaska have more sole than James Brown, The Righteous Brothers and Ray Charles combined, unless these outstanding artists have secretly been trawling instead of performing. There are numerous types of sole to be found in our waters, perhaps more varieties of sole than any other kind of fish. A relative of the flounder, sole are found on the sandy bottoms offshore and are as delicious to eat as they are odd to look at.

The varieties found in California waters include Petrale, Dover, English, Flathead, Rock and Yellowfin sole. All are white fish and are excellent sources of low fat protein, but are not known for containing omega-3 fatty acids. The Yellowfin sole is mainly found in the Bering Sea and is believed to be the largest fishery in the world. The catches are often headed and gutted or frozen whole at sea, then shipped to Asia for further processing. Often the packaged fillets are sent back to the US.

This entire group has experienced overfishing in the past but bounces back quickly when steps are taken to allow it to recover. Since it is found in the sandy and/or muddy bottoms, trawlers will drag their nets across the ocean floor to capture them. Bycatch (catching things other than the fish you’re after) is generally an issue but care is taken to keep bycatch to a minimum. Sole are not farmed but are typically caught in the wild.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
The Seafood Watch program that rates the sustainability of fish found the world over rate virtually all varieties of sole as “Good alternative” with the exception of an Atlantic variety that merits an “Avoid.”

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