English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When we went to the market, at the fisherman's counter we asked for plaice with which we would make fish and chips. Now here in the States when we ask for plaice, they don't understand what we mean. Can anyone tell me with confidence what plaice is called in the northeastern United States?

share|improve this question
I had the same problem. When I moved back to the United States from Spain, I had been used to eating merluza. Looking up the translation, I found it is supposed to mean plaice -- which I had never heard of. That's because there is no such fish that grows in the United States' nearby coastal waters, nor is that fish normally sold here. – tchrist Apr 26 '13 at 16:55
I live in the northeast US and I had never heard of plaice before this question. If I get fish and chips at all, it's probably in the summer when visiting Cape Cod, and one of the fish types listed here is used, like cod or haddock. – aedia λ Apr 26 '13 at 17:26
Yes, there had to be a reason why they named it Cape Cod and not Cape Plaice. Have you tried using English ale in the batter! – RoDaSm Apr 26 '13 at 18:27
My wife and I were pleasantly surprised with the tilapia we ate in the SW US last year. It tasted like a cross between cod and plaice. I don't know whether it's available in the NE - or even if that name would refer to the same species there. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 26 '13 at 23:26
Tilapia is good stuff -- freshwater, and fast growing so it doesn't hang around absorbing nasties from the environment. – David Aldridge Apr 30 '13 at 20:35

Plaice is one variety of flatfish, related to sole, halibut, and flounder. It is not commercially available in the US so its name is rarely heard there.

In the US, when you find 'fish and chips' (purely a British cultural import) is usually made with cod, whitefish, or haddock, the same is in the UK. Fish and chips made with plaice is unknown in the US.

share|improve this answer

Try looking it up in Wikipedia. Plaice, Pleuronectes platessa, is a European fish that is related to an American fish of the same family, which they've overfished. Many nations have different names for the same fish, though some are only related species. The question has a fundamental flaw in that you should have asked for cod!

share|improve this answer
Pacific cod isn't bad (never eat the toxic stunted remains of the noble species in Europe) but Haddock is popular at least on the west coast – mgb Apr 28 '13 at 19:19

Plaice is "sole", a flat fish, and merluza is "hake". I am quite certain, as a Canadian who lives in Spain, a biologist and a fish-and-chips connoisseur.

share|improve this answer
An expert answer on the internet! – Joe Blow Oct 9 '14 at 17:27

I'm not entirely sure, despite having lived in US for five years, but why not try sole or flounder. They belong to the same family.

share|improve this answer
They appear to be called "Dab" as well: Sole in the US is a more catchall term, often used for Plaice – horatio Apr 26 '13 at 17:22

Wikipedia says about the choice of fish in fish and chips:

In the United States, the type of fish used depends on availability in a given region. Some common types are cod, halibut, flounder, tilapia or, in New England, Atlantic cod or haddock. Salmon is growing common on the West Coast, while freshwater catfish is most commonly used in the Southeast.

Cod is one of the most common for fish and chips, but you may wish to avoid it due to overfishing.

share|improve this answer

Thirty years ago, when I visited my (originally English) relatives in California, they told me with delight that they had found somewhere that served plaice, and described it as "North Sea flounder".

share|improve this answer

As you are making your own, probably the closest taste to plaice is halibut, but that’s pretty pricey when you can get it fresh. Depending on where you are, try flounder: it’s similar and around here is pretty reasonably priced. Personally, I find tilapia tasteless.

If you try ordering fish and chips, it’s pretty rare to have a choice of fish, and they almost never have malt vinegar!

Good luck, and so nice to hear that someone is making fish and chips at home!

share|improve this answer
I know, it is not Seasoned Advice.SE, but I just wanted to point out, that it is the whole selling point of tilapia — that it is not too “fishy”, but one can still season it nicely (I had great success just sautéing some onions, and frying tilapia fillet with nothing but salt and pepper on top of them — magnifique!). – theUg Jun 30 '13 at 14:31

No one's really answered the question yet. Plaice is called "plaice" here in the US. It's just very seldom offered. I think I've seen it in ingredient lists.

share|improve this answer
As stated in Wikipedia, the American plaice is called flounder, Hippoglossoides platessoides, or dab and has been overfished, so it is rarely available in the US, but cod, the true fish of fish 'n' chips, is available, although it suffers a similar plight. – RoDaSm Apr 26 '13 at 20:50

American law is unfortunately not very scientific in its requirements for fish names. For example, the fish commonly sold on the West Coast as "Pacific snapper", and even "Pacific red snapper" is not a near relative of the "red snapper" sold in the East. The Atlantic fish is much better eating. Whatever rules there are about which fish may be labeled "sole", "snapper", and "cod" are often violated.

On the other hand, we may have varieties that work well in fish-and-chips under our own names. I suggest you try whatever your market calls "flounder". If you are being paid in pounds, with the exchange favorable these days, you could try Alaskan halibut fillets, but fresh they were $20/lb last I looked.

share|improve this answer
And that delicious Chilean Sea Bass? Real name is the not-so-appetising "Patagonian Toothfish". – David Aldridge Apr 30 '13 at 20:37

protected by tchrist Feb 23 '15 at 4:33

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.