What Are Recipes Talking About When They Call for 'Whitefish?'

Seared Cod with Bacon, Braised Fennel, and Kale image

A recipe that calls for “whitefish” without including any specifications could leave you scratching your head. What is a whitefish? Are there different kinds? And if there are, how in the heck do you choose which to buy? 

What Is a Whitefish and What Are the Most Common Types? 

Cooking dinner shouldn't be complicated

Whitefish isn’t a specific type of fish—it’s actually an entire category of fish. It’s a pretty broad category, but all whitefish have a few things in common: They live near the seafloor, they contain oils in their liver (as opposed to oily fish who carry it in their gut), and they have white flesh. 

Because of where they carry their oil, whitefish can be gutted as soon as they are caught. 

Common types of whitefish are cod, haddock, tilapia, snapper, grouper, and catfish.

How Do You Choose a Whitefish?

There are a few ways to decide which whitefish will work best for you and your recipe:

  • Price. Not all whitefish cost the same. For instance, tilapia and catfish are generally going to be cheaper than snapper and grouper. If you’re on a budget and the recipe doesn’t specify what kind of whitefish to use, don’t hesitate to reach for the cheaper option (as long as it looks fresh and is from a reputable source).
  • Other ingredients. Use common sense when choosing whitefish—if the fish is the main attraction, you might want to spend a bit more money on a higher quality option. However, if something else is taking center stage (like in a salad, soup, or tacos), you have more leeway. 
  • Ask the fishmonger. When in doubt, ask the expert. The person or people behind the counter will help you choose the best fish for your recipe by comparing thickness, taste, and freshness. 

Whitefish Recipes

Spiced Tilapia with Coconut Rice

No matter what you choose, you need to make sure you have a good recipe. Speaking of, we happen to quite a few delicious whitefish recipes: 

  • Cod with Shiitake-Bacon Crust and Arugula Salad
  • Snapper Escabeche with Marinated Peppers
  • Easy Catfish Tacos with Slaw
  • Roasted Grouper with Seafood Risotto and Champagne-Citrus Beurre Blanc
  • Blackened Tilapia And Cauliflower Polenta

Find even more delicious fish recipes here. 

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