Dorade is a saltwater fish of many names, but no matter what it's called, the seafood remains a popular item on menus throughout the world. From gracing a classic French bouillabaisse to roasted whole, this light, tender white fish maintains an umami-rich essence no matter how it's cooked. Find out what makes the Mediterranean dorade such a sought out ingredient, and learn how to cook it the next time it ends up in the shopping cart.
What is Dorade?
Found mainly in the Mediterranean Sea, dorade is a medium-small fish with silver skin and white flesh that imparts a rich, meaty flavor when grilled, baked, or braised. While dorade hails from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, overfishing has caused a short supply of wild fish, so now there are various farms around the world that raise it. That means the dorade found on many menus and from fishmongers tends to come from France, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Italy, and Spain.
As part of the family Sparidae, the dorade also falls under the classification of a porgy and is widely available in European countries where it's fished and farmed. It has become a staple food in many Mediterranean cultures, though the most famous dish featuring dorade, (or the variety dorade gris, typically) is the classic French bouillabaisse, which is most closely associated with Provence. There are many names for the dorade; the most common ones include sea bream, dorada, orata, and gilthead.
How To Cook Dorade
There's a good layer of fat between the skin and flesh of the dorade, making it a great fish for grilling, baking, and other skin-on cooking methods. Clean a whole fish and stuff it with lemon, salt and pepper, and heat on the grill until the thick skin is crackling and crisp and the flesh inside has turned a creamy white. For baking, wrap in foil with aromatics and cook low for about 45 minutes, which can be done whole with or without the head, or cut into individual fillets.
Keep in mind the smaller dorade have a lot of bones, so if serving whole it's best to get a larger fish for a better meat-to-bone ratio. Debone the fish and cut chunks of the flesh to stir into a stew or curry. Dorade also can be eaten raw as sushi or in a crudo.
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What Does Dorade Taste Like?
Dorade is a mild white fish with a meaty component that makes it heartier than other seafood. The firm, slightly fatty flesh stays intact when mixed into bubbling pot and cooked for hours. It also soaks in sauces and spices well. Dorade good on its own too, and is prized for its clean flavor.
Dorade Vs. Red Snapper
The dorade is a seagrass-dwelling fish that swims around the sandy bottoms of the sea, where the red snapper prefers slightly warmer waters and lives in reefs. The red snapper is a popular game fish that can grow around 30 pounds. Dorade tends to be smaller, running closer to 16 pounds for large, older fish.
Taste wise, these two fish are often compared to each other. Both are mild and meaty with a higher fat content that makes the flesh stay moist and succulent, though red snapper tends to have more of a sweetness. Dorade and red snapper are also versatile fish, and are used in anything from stews to served whole right from the grill to simple fried fillets.
Dorade is easy to prepare and holds up well to sauces and braises; it can be cooked for a while without falling apart. It's also great whole and grilled, fried, and baked. Use dorade when a recipe calls for snapper, sea bream, sea bass, or any other firm fish.
Where to Buy Dorade
Many fish mongers carry dorade, though it can come under a variety of names. It's not as easy to find this fish in a grocery store, though some higher-end markets may carry it from time to time. If you do find it, chances are it will be frozen.
Keeping dorade doesn't differ from storing any other fish. It must remain frozen until ready to use or kept cool in a refrigerator. It's best to eat all the fish once it's cooked, though having leftover dorade stew or bouillabaisse from the night before is fine, just as long as it was refrigerated overnight
The dorade comes in four different types, including gray, pink, marble, and royal. This seafood also comes in many names depending where it's purchased. In the United States dorade may be wrongly referred to as sea bass or red drum, two other species of fish. Dorade also is sometimes referred to as sea bream or gilthead. In Europe, the fish goes by dorado, dorada, orata, and dorade gris.
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