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Turbot - bad?

  • m

My husband brought home Turbot tonight and I cooked it - meuniere with a butter, thin lemon slice, parsley pan sauce. I thought it was terrible. I expected it to taste like sole or plaice. Instead, it was mealy and fell apart in my mouth. After a bit or two I stopped eating it - mostly because of the texture.

Is this how turbot is or could this have been bad? It was from a reputable shop, though I did get a bit more whiff of the fish as I opened it.

Any thoughts? Thanks!

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  1. I have never cared for it. I found it too strong and the texture not to my liking. My mother tried to feed it to us in the 60's, livng in the NE and near Canada it was a cheap readily available fish. She gave up, none of us would take more than a bite or two not matter what she did with it.

    1. I associate mealiness with fish that has been improperly frozen, like just plopped in a home freezer for a while. Is it possible your fish shop could have done something like this?

      1. Sounds like you had mishandled fish ... and there is a lot of that out there.

        The turbot that I have used has always been pretty similar both in appearance and taste to codfish.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jlawrence01

          +1 It normally has a really nice medium-firm texture and smooth, sweet taste. Not fishy at all.

        2. I've always found turbot, like plaice, to be a "nothing" fish. Usually frozen, it is rather tasteless. In the SF Bay Area, it is seldom found.

          1. I would only use this fish for broth. The texture is terrible. I am not happy that my local grocer is trying to pass this stuff off as sole and "arrowtooth flounder." It has a nasty mealy texture that just tastes like to mush when you cook it. Beware of exotic sounding fish names that have a really cheap price. I would love a response that gave me a good way to cook this fish.

            10 Replies
            1. re: DEBMCE4

              Turbot really is the king of fish - IMO a finer flavour than sole. It's the one that "the best" restaurants will have on their menu. I recently had it as part of a Michelin starred tasting menu when it had been braised and was served sat on some shredded green beans and surrounded by a crab bisque. An absolutely fab dish - and, by a goodly margin, the best thing I ate that evening. .

              It's always expensive and, mostly because of that, I've never cooked it myself. However, here's some recipes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/turbot.
              You might like to try the one with Sandefjord sauce - had a version of that in a nearby bistro a few months back. Great taste - sauce really goes well with the fish.

              1. re: Harters

                I like turbot, I'v never found the texture to be mealy or mushy. I'm surprised Harters (from the U.K. refers to it as expensive because in the midwest U.S. its pretty cheap.

                Though all turbot is Psetta maxima it is found in the Mediterranean, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the North Atlantic, so perhaps there is some variation in taste & texture depending on location.

                1. re: tullius

                  In the US, "turbot" is a name applied too freely to flatfish, just as "sole" is used. True turbot (and sole) are native to Europe. When they appear in US markets, at least in NYC, turbot is very expensive and sole (the real Dover sole) is astronomical. Just about any flatfish is sold as sole...grey sole, lemon sole, and simple "fillet of" sole. The "Dover sole" sold cheaply in US markets is really a west coast flatfish. I'm not sure what fish end up being called turbot....but to my best knowledge it is not true turbot.

                  1. re: tullius

                    I guess "expensive/cheap" are relative terms. I've just had a look online at turbot prices in the UK, for a whole fish weighing about a kilo (say 2 greedy servings) - £29. Converting that, I think that's about $23 a pound.

                    1. re: Harters

                      I think that I speak for most Americans when I say that $23/pound for fish (or anything else) is not cheap.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        I'd be interested in knowing the US price. I'd sort of usually assume the UK would be cheaper - seeing as it's fished in our waters and sold fresh. I assume American supplies may have been frozen and imported, adding to the cost.

                        1. re: Harters

                          I cannot get it at any price, even from the online fishmongers I use.

                          1. re: Harters

                            Only time I saw it was when I lived in New Jersey. It doesn't seem to be able to swim all the way to West Texas.

                            1. re: Harters

                              I very rarely see turbot. When I do, its at least $13 or more/lb, and says farm raised. Since its a fillet, I can't tell if its really turbot. As another poster said, turbot is diamond shaped and pretty large. I have seen whole turbot, but that was so many years ago that I forgot the price. Real dover sole is always sold as a whole fish, and never less than $35/lb.

                      2. re: Harters

                        The one time I've had it recently (steamed, with pickled peppers, in a restaurant in Shanghai), I thought it was wonderful. Apparently the one we had had just been offed prior to steaming - the fins were coated with a kind of slime that is the hallmark of the impeccably fresh fish. If it's not diamond-shaped it's not turbot, it's a very distinctively-shaped fish.

                    2. That perfectly describes my lone experience with turbot. It as an experience I shan't repeat.

                      1. True turbot is wonderful, but very difficult to find in the U.S. these days. I last had it here at
                        A. Sabela's in SF, about 15 years ago. IIRC, my entree was about $40. The French consider this dish so special that they make a gorgeous copper turbot-shaped pan to cook it in. If your fishmonger is selling you cheap, mealy fish and calling it turbot, find another fishmonger.

                        1. From the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (Fishwatch) website:

                          Arrowtooth flounder muscle rapidly degrades when heated, resulting in a paste-like texture when cooked. In the past, this breakdown has limited efforts to develop a market for this fish. Recently however, several food additives have been successful in stopping this breakdown, increasing the marketability of arrowtooth flounder products as inexpensive flounder. To make it more marketable, arrowtooth is often sold on the West Coast as turbot, although it is not related to the true turbot (Psetta maxima), a highly-valued fish caught off Europe.


                          EDIT: According to your profile you are in Manhatten, could the West Coast marketing practice have caught on there?

                          2nd EDIT: AORTA (Another Old Resurrected Thread, Aaargh!)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: hannaone

                            Turbot, a demersal flatfish, is a bottom dweller, but the mushiness you described is probably more from poor handling than the species.

                          2. Trader Joe's sells Greenland-caught turbot, $7.79 a pound. Rich, buttery meat that stands up well to a quick pan-fry. Delicious is the word.