When it comes to seafood, Dover Sole is one of the best dishes you can eat.
Even people who don’t enjoy fish often find that they like Dover Sole.
That’s because the fish tends to have a texture and flavor more similar to meat than fish.
Dover Sole is a flatfish that primarily lives in the sediment of seawater.
As its name might suggest, the fish comes from the Dover area, but it lives in other areas in the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters.
The average price for Dover Sole is around the $35 mark.
At restaurants, you can expect to pay double this amount for a dish.
Considering its expense, it may make you wonder what makes Dover Sole so special.
Here are 10 reasons Dover Sole is so expensive.
Why Is Dover Sole So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Acclaimed By Chefs
One of the reasons Dover Sole is expensive is that world-class chefs love it.
Everyone, from Gordon Ramsay to Wolfgang Puck, often sings its praises.
They also use it in their dishes at their restaurants.
When acclaimed chefs back a certain type of food, then the world takes notice.
Amateur chefs start to work with Dover Sole to try and recreate what expert chefs are doing.
Expert chefs are trying to outdo each other and make the most delicious Dover Sole dish possible.
Celebrities want in on the latest trends and have their in-home chefs make the dish.
They may even visit a high-end restaurant and give a social media post covering the fact that they’re eating Dover Sole.
This then trickles down to the common masses who want to emulate their favorite celebrities and be part of the conversation.
They’ll start buying Dover Sole at the grocery store or stop at restaurants that offer the dish.
With so many people taking an interest in the fish thanks to the praise from acclaimed chefs, the demand for the fish goes up.
Sellers can market it as something the rich and famous dine on at home.
That only feeds into the cost more because they can sell it at luxury prices.
Since it’s expensive to buy the fish, then restaurants and grocery stores have to put a higher price on the fish to make a profit.
It all comes back to the acclaimed chefs using the fish in their restaurants and giving it high words of praise.
Since this fish is so beloved by these chefs, it has an expensive price tag.
2. The Rare Flavor
An aspect that sets Dover Sole apart from other fish and adds to its price tag is the flavor.
Many consider the flavor of Dover Sole to be meaty.
It has a buttery and almost sweet flavor to it that’s wholly unique.
Many other types of fish tend to taste the same as each other.
They also carry that sort of fishy flavor that turns away some people.
Dover Sole is something different.
Its flavor is rare and only found in this one breed of fish.
Many chefs claim that even if you don’t enjoy seafood, you’ll likely enjoy eating Dover Sole because it doesn’t taste like fish.
While chefs can do a few things to the fish to emphasize its flavor, they prefer to let their diners taste the natural flavor for themselves.
The sauce is served on the side.
Because it has a rare and unique flavor, Dover Sole is expensive.
Not only is it because fish lovers can’t get the flavor anywhere else, but it also attracts non-seafood eaters.
Since its flavor appeals to many so different people, it’s a popular choice in restaurants.
It allows them to offer a dish that suits many people’s different preferences and tastebuds.
Since they’re appealing to a larger number of people, they can serve more people.
That means more profit for them.
They keep buying more Dover Sole to serve as a result.
Its flavor adds to its popularity which also increases its demand.
Since Dover Sole is in high demand, the price tag for it increases.
3. Only Found In The Atlantic Ocean And The Mediterranean Sea
One of the major drivers behind any expensive product is its rarity.
If the item is difficult to create or find, then it’s going to be more expensive.
That’s the case with Dover Sole, too.
While there are several species of the sole as a species, which is to say the flatfish species, Dover Sole is only found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
It makes its home in the sediment at the bottom of the ocean or sea.
Because it’s flat, the fish can bury itself in the sand and hide from predators and prey.
When its prey nears the area, the fish can suddenly lurch out of its hiding area and eat it.
This also makes fishing for it difficult.
Since they reside at the bottom of the water, in most cases, it’s hard to get nets that drag along the bottom.
It’s also difficult to spot them.
Their camouflage works extremely well.
Also, they are only found in a few regions of the world.
They’re not widespread like other species of fish.
This limits how many fishing companies can be in the same area at the same time.
It also limits how many fish they can pull from the water.
That results in a limited supply of fish every year.
With demand as high as it is for Dover Sole, the lack of supply increases the price by a great deal.
While some sellers will offer other types of sole fish, the flavor and quality aren’t the same.
Chefs and seafood lovers want the real deal.
A limited habitat increases the price of Dover Sole.
4. Fishing Regulations
Like all seafood, Dover Sole is carefully regulated.
It isn’t considered an endangered fish, but without regulations in place, it could join the other types of fish that are at risk.
Part of the reason it isn’t considered an endangered fish is its ability to reproduce.
When left alone, male Dover Sole can live for as long as 58 years.
The females also tend to mature faster.
This gives the species a longer time to mate.
Their bodies can also sense when the environment isn’t suitable for their eggs.
They’ll only release them when they’re in an area that their body senses will be acceptable for their eggs.
However, regulations are in place to help keep Dover Sole’s population healthy.
One part of those regulations is a limit on how many fishermen have access to certain fishing areas.
There’s also a limit on how many fish they can catch during a season.
This ensures that there are still plenty of fish left in the water to maintain and continue the population.
Along with restricting the number of fish they can catch, the fishermen also have to use certain types of gear.
Since Dover Soles live on the seabed, fishermen need special gear to pick them.
The gear has to limit how much by-catch they also catch.
By-catch refers to other fish that are also caught in the nets.
That includes sea life that is illegal to fish or not used in eating.
Some of this equipment can be pricey.
Maintaining it is also expensive.
To cover those costs, fishermen will add to the price of Dover Sole.
Chefs, suppliers, and grocery stores will then eat the cost when they buy the Dover Sole from them.
To make back their expense, they’ll raise the price even higher to earn a profit when they sell a dish or sell the fish in their store.
Fishing regulations help ensure there is plenty of fish in the ocean, but they also add to the price of Dover Sole.
5. Farming Costs
In an effort to cut down on reducing fish populations in the wild, many suppliers are starting their own fish farms.
These farms have water tanks that feature the same environment that the fish live in naturally.
It has the right temperature and depth.
While the tanks are smaller than an ocean or a sea, the fish are usually comfortable enough to breed with one another.
This then allows the supplier to have an ongoing source of fish at their disposal.
They no longer have to worry about reducing the population of the wild fish since they can grow their own.
The problem with fish farms is that they’re expensive.
Fish farms for Dover Sole are relatively recent.
Thanks to innovative farming processes and technology, it’s now possible to successfully farm Dover Sole.
That wasn’t possible a few decades ago since their requirements were beyond what farmers could provide with their existing technology.
To house them, however, it requires the farm to keep their tanks at optimal temperatures and pressure at all times.
Even a slight fluctuation could kill the fish or make them unable to breed.
They require a steady and constant environment to stay healthy and breed with one another.
The amount of energy and labor it takes to make that happen drives up costs.
To cover the costs, suppliers increase the price of Dover Sole.
If more farms start supplying Dover Sole, however, then the price for them might start to decrease.
The supply will finally meet the demand.
6. Health Benefits
Another big factor that inflates the price of Dover Sole is the fact that it’s a healthy fish.
While all fish meats contain some healthy minerals and nutrients, Dover Sole has a few extra.
For one, it’s known for its protein.
Since Dover Sole is similar to red meat, it has a protein count that almost matches it.
Those who want to work out and ensure they’re receiving plenty of protein may choose to eat Dover Sole instead of red meat.
It also has a healthy amount of vitamin D.
This vitamin is essential for healthy skin and hair, and it also plays an important role in your memory development.
Phosphorous is also found in Dover Sole.
This element helps keep your bones healthy.
Finally, it contains a healthy dose of vitamin B12.
This vitamin is extremely important to have.
It supports your metabolism and digestive system, ensures your body receives the energy that it needs to function, and also plays an important role in your memory.
Because Dover Sole contains all these nutrients and minerals, it’s marketed as a healthy fish.
Those who are health-conscious tend to choose Dover Sole over other types of fish.
The fact that it’s considered healthy also adds to its price because people are more willing to pay extra for healthier things.
Thanks to its healthy vitamins and minerals, Dover Sole is expensive.
Besides having a unique flavor, a Dover Sole’s texture also makes it unique.
The meat is also thick which means it fills you up faster.
When you bite into a Dover Sole, you can usually tell it apart from other types of sole and other types of fish.
Other variants of sole often lack the thickness, texture, and flavor of Dover Sole.
This is why it tends to be more expensive than the sole that’s fished out of the Pacific Ocean.
Because you can only experience that particular unique texture with Dover Sole, it adds to the price.
People buy it looking for that specific experience.
Since they can only find it in Dover Sole, the demand for it increases.
As with all things in the market, a demand increases and supply remains the same, the price also increases.
8. Shipping Costs
Since Dover Sole comes from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, shipping costs are high.
In particular, a good source of Dover Sole comes from the area of Dover in England.
If stores want the fish in the United States, then the fish has to go across the ocean to reach its shores.
Those who live in Asia likely get their fish from the Mediterranean Sea.
It still has to make a long journey to reach Japan, for example.
To keep the fish fresh and sanitary, suppliers will use ice and other cooling agents.
They’re then placed inside a storage container.
Most companies will use a temperature-controlled container if they can afford it.
Others rely on a large amount of ice to keep the fish frozen.
The fish then sails across the ocean to nearby ports.
It goes through customs and then moves onto trucks or other forms of transportation to reach its final destination.
Fuel costs, energy costs, labor wages, toll fees, tariffs, and other expenses make shipping expensive.
The further a restaurant or store is from a port, the more expensive it is going to be to import Dover sole.
To make up for the cost, they have to mark it up to a higher price.
The closer you are to the source of the fishing, the cheaper it’s going to be.
9. Difficult Cooking Process
Because Dover Sole is a highly prized dish at most restaurants, the owners want to ensure their chefs cook it right.
If a diner’s dish comes to them and it isn’t correct, then the owner can expect to hear about it.
Since they need the best chefs to cook their Dover Sole, they often hire experienced executive chefs.
It’s easy to cook the Dover Sole incorrectly.
Cooking it too quickly can give it a hard texture that’s not enjoyable to eat.
Diners expect a firm but soft texture.
To find this delicate balance, chefs need experience.
Experienced chefs come with higher wages.
To pay the chefs and the cost of the dish, restaurants have to put Dover Sole at a higher price.
10. High-End Restaurant Item
Finally, Dover Sole is expensive simply because it’s served at high-end restaurants.
This drives up the price of Dover Sole for a few reasons.
The first is that anything at a high-end restaurant is going to be more expensive.
It’s designed that way.
They offer you the best quality food prepared by the best chefs.
Another way this increases the price of Dover Sole is that it makes it harder to buy as an individual at a store.
The high-end restaurants tend to get the first pick of the supply when it comes in.
Then if there’s any left, the grocery stores get some.
A lot of the sole that grocery stores sell isn’t even Dover Sole.
It’s one of the many variants that doesn’t have the same quality.
It’s why you’ll often find cheaper varieties of sole in the market.
It isn’t Dover Sole.
Thanks to high-end restaurants serving the dish at an expensive price, it makes other restaurants follow the same pattern, which makes it difficult to buy real Dover Sole at the store.
This makes the fish expensive.
How To Save Money On Dover Sole
While Dover Sole is the finest fish in the sea and expensive, there are a few things you can do to make it less expensive.
Follow these tips to save money on Dover Sole.
1. Share The Fish
You usually get two filets out of a single Dover Sole.
The best way to save money on the fish is to share the meat with a partner or a friend.
By splitting the cost between you, the price of Dover Sole becomes almost affordable.
2. Choose Alternatives
If you want to experience something similar to Dover Sole but save money, then you can always try other variants of sole fish.
They’re similar to flounders.
You won’t experience the same texture or flavor as Dover Sole, but it’s close.
The best thing is that they’re far less expensive than Dover Sole.
3. Choose Cheaper Restaurants
You can also save money on Dover Sole by eating at cheaper restaurants.
Instead of going to high-end restaurants, look for something that’s mid-tier.
They should still have authentic Dover Sole without the high-end price.
Dover Sole is an expensive fish because it’s one of the finest fish on the market.
With a unique flavor and texture, it’s coveted by acclaimed chefs and celebrities alike.
It’s possible to save money on Dover Sole by following some of the tips above.