I was looking to make Marco Pierre White's Dory a la Nicoise, but John Dory fish is quite a high-end, pricey fish which you will find in many fancy and high-end restaurants – while I am happy to give the recipe a try, I'd like to use a more common/affordable alternative, as I am no professional chef who is looking to risk wasting the high cost.

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Having looked around in different forums (e.g. flyertalk), I have seen it compared to Dover sole, but there isn't much else to go on, so I turn to the folks at cooking SE.

In terms of flavour and texture, what is a good alternative to John Dory fish? A cheaper, more common fish suggestion would be preferred.

Special consideration to the recipe and complimentary flavours involved will be thoroughly appreciated, but is not necessary, as I intend to respect the site's ethos for general Q&A rather than highly-specific and only relevant to me Q&A.

3 Answers 3


Looks like what you read was correct. From Fine Seafood Co here is a description of the John Dory fish. (As many in the US will not be familiar.)

John Dory Often named St Peter’s fish (St Pierre in France, Janitore in Spain), as he is alleged to be the origin of the distinctive dark ‘thumbprint’ (or spot) on its side as a thank you for some help with his tax! The English name John Dory arrived from the French ‘jaune doré’ meaning ‘golden yellow’ – a good description for this unusual looking fish, which varies in size from smaller 230-450g fish up to 2kg. Because of the large head (like Monkfish, this accounts for half its weight), John Dory is best filleted, but beware the low yield (around 35%) and some sharp nasty spines, which require extra care when filleting. The flesh is creamy-white, with a dense texture similar to Dover Sole, which holds up well during cooking. Ideal pan-fried or grilled John Dory works well with Mediterranean flavours, salsas, and peppery sauces. It may be an expensive fish with a low yield – but it’s worth it!

(Emphasis mine.)

Per my research, Dover Sole seems to be the first choice to use as a substitute for John Dory. Another that I found mentioned quite often was Turbot. But that seems to be even more expensive than John Dory.

Others listed as possible substitutes on Cookipedia are: Bass, Grouper, Snapper, Emperor, and Halibut.

Here's a link to the Guide on Fine Seafood Co with descriptions of many other fish. (No endorsement intended - just good information.)


IMO, you could do this recipe with whatever "white" fish your local friendly fishmonger offers.

Hallibut, haddock, hake ... even cod.

  • Hi Max. Just a friendly suggestion: If you could expand on your answers more it would make them much better quality. Another thing is that you should include experience you've had or a source for the information you provide. We try to stay away from opinions. :)
    – Cindy
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 18:24

You can generally substitute any white fish for any other white fish, and I'm sure you could do for this recipe, however you might not get the result you are looking for. The recipe you are making is extremely simple, with some distinctive flavors like fennel and anchovy, something like cod or haddock would be too mild and not have enough structure. Lower cost fish alternatives would be bream, grouper, red mullet, snapper (red has the most flavor because it's diet is shrimp), and sea bass. Sole might work, although it's very thin and I personally don't think it has much flavor.

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