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Substitute for fillet of sole

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I'm trying a new recipe tomorrow night for Dover Sole w/Grapes + Capers that I found on Epicurious for someone who adores sole. I live in Pasadena (CA) and have tried all the obvious places (Gelson's, Bristol Farms, Whole Foods - even Fish King), but nobody has sole. They all blame the weather "up north."

I'm thinking of substituting tilapia. Any advice on whether that's my best substitute? Do you think I have to fess up to it being tilapia. I believe it'll cook/taste like sole, but will it look like sole? Thanks!

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  1. Tilapia is a lot thicker than sole, and not nearly as delicate in flavor or texture; I happen to like it, but I don't think you'll "fool" anybody. It will likely taste just fine (though I've heard some people say they can't stand Tilapia)

    1. No! Tilapia is not anything like sole. How about asking for flounder- it is almost identical to sole, but probably if you can't get sole you can't get flounder. I think that "sand dabs" are similar- aren't they available in CA??

      1 Reply
      1. re: emilief

        Thanks to you both for your help. I am just back from my neighborhood Von's and when walking by the fish case, what to my wondering eyes should appear but fresh Dover sole - on sale for $5.99lb no less! When I'm doing a "company" dinner I usually try to buy fish/meat @ an upscale market so when all the logical suspects didn't have sole it never ocurred to me that Von's would. Plus they had Panko breadcrumbs I needed and I thought I'd have to go to an Asian market for that. Unbelievable grocery shopping Karma! Thank you again.

      2. we just came off a blizzard, so yes about that. ask your fishmonger for a flat whitefish--halibut, flounder, turbot. dabs are local to you. tilapia is nothing like sole. yuk.

        1. A bit late in the day here, but whatever "sole" is available here in Pasadena is not sole at all, but some kind of flounder. There is no true sole in the Pacific Ocean, but there is also no legal restriction on calling a fish any damn thing you want to, which I think is a cryin' shame but what're ya gonna do? I sincerely hope your dish came out well; my own experiences with what they sell here as "Dover sole" have not been wonderful. Sand dabs would be my choice if they were available - terrific little fish! - but the restaurant guys buy up most of that before we even get to see it. The grey and Petrale "sole" are a good runner-up, though, not too far below the sand dab in flavor, and dead easy to cook.

          1. We routinely use Tilapia in Ina Garten's recipe for sole meuniere and we love it.

            1. No it wont look or taste anything like sole.

              Flounder is the best sub.

              1. I can find fresh Pacific sole at Costco. Nice thin filets. I would not use Talapia, it's tastless.

                1. If it happens again, use sand dabs.