Deutsch: Plattfisch / Español: Pez plano / Português: Peixe chato / Français: Poisson plat / Italiano: Pesce piatto

Flatfish in the food context refers to a group of fish species characterized by their unique physical structure, with both eyes located on one side of their flattened bodies. This adaptation allows them to live and camouflage themselves on the seafloor. Flatfish are highly prized in culinary circles for their mild flavor and delicate, flaky texture.


Flatfish undergo a fascinating transformation during their development; they start life with a more typical fish shape and an eye on each side of their body. As they mature, one eye migrates to the other side, and their body flattens out, adapting perfectly to their bottom-dwelling lifestyle. Common varieties of flatfish used in cooking include sole, flounder, halibut, and turbot.

These fish are known for their lean, white flesh, which is low in fat but rich in high-quality protein and beneficial minerals. They are versatile in the kitchen, suitable for a range of cooking methods including baking, grilling, frying, and poaching.

Application Areas

Flatfish are used extensively in various culinary settings:

  • Fine Dining: Often featured in sophisticated dishes, flatfish like sole and turbot are celebrated for their refined taste and are commonly served in high-end restaurants.
  • Casual Dining and Home Cooking: More accessible varieties like flounder and halibut are popular choices for everyday meals.
  • Health-Conscious Menus: Due to their low-fat content and nutritional value, flatfish are an excellent option for those looking to maintain a healthy diet.

Well-Known Examples

Some iconic dishes that include flatfish are:

  • Sole Meunière: A classic French dish where sole is lightly floured, pan-fried in butter, and served with a lemon and parsley sauce.
  • Grilled Halibut: Often marinated and grilled, serving as a healthy and delicious main course.
  • Poached Turbot: Known for its delicate texture, turbot is frequently poached in wine or fish stock and served with subtle sauces to enhance its natural flavors.

Treatment and Risks

When cooking flatfish, it's important to avoid overcooking to maintain the fish's delicate texture. Each type of flatfish can vary slightly in flavor and cooking time, so it’s beneficial to adjust preparations accordingly. The sustainability of flatfish species can also vary, so it's advisable to select species that are not overfished or caught using environmentally damaging methods.

Similar Terms

Related terms include other types of seafood such as round fish, which have a more traditional body shape compared to flatfish, and include species like cod and salmon.


Flatfish are a diverse group of seafood known for their unique anatomy and delicious, lean meat. They hold a place of prominence in both simple home cooking and elaborate culinary creations, offering versatility and a range of flavors that are cherished around the world.


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