When Baking Fish Florentine, Go For A Milder Variety

Salmon florentine in pan
Salmon florentine in pan - Christina Musgrave/Tasting Table

The dish may be called fish Florentine, but the spinach cream sauce is the real star of the show. Along with spinach, the sauce typically consists of ingredients such as heavy cream, garlic, butter, and cream cheese, along with Parmesan, gruyere, or another type of cheese. The sauce is full of creamy flavor and balanced out by the earthiness of the spinach.

You can technically make fish Florentine with any type of fish, but some choices are better than others. The best pick is a fish with a mild flavor so that the taste of the fish doesn't overpower the spinach, cheese, or cream — again, the sauce is arguably the most important part of the dish and should not be overshadowed. So what types of fish work best? Some examples of mild fish include tilapia, cod, and halibut — typically, most white fish have a mild taste.

Many white fish varieties, including tilapia and cod, have a subtle buttery taste to them, making them the perfect companion to the creamy, buttery Florentine spinach sauce. Meanwhile, halibut has a denser consistency than tilapia and cod, which may make it the right choice for you if you don't like the flakiness of other fish types. However, halibut does have a slightly stronger fish taste (although still mild overall) so it may be just a bit more noticeable in this recipe compared to other white fish options. It simply comes down to personal preference on taste and texture.

Read more: 15 Different Ways To Cook Fish

Can You Use A Stronger Fish For Fish Florentine Instead?

Salmon florentine on plate
Salmon florentine on plate - Christina Musgrave/Tasting Table

You may wonder if you can use a fish type with a stronger taste — maybe you don't care for white fish or you've already made it with white fish and want to switch it up. In Tasting Table's Florentine recipe, we use salmon — salmon is considered one of the fish varieties with the strongest taste — so the answer is yes. However, our recipe makes some adjustments to better suit the fish's strong taste — the sauce is simpler, with just heavy whipping cream, butter, garlic, red pepper flakes, and spinach. Without the cheese, the sauce becomes milder in taste while retaining the essential creaminess.

All in all, you can make fish Florentine with any fish of your choosing, but a mild white fish is the best and safest choice. If you're in the mood for a fish with stronger flavor you should either stick to a trusted recipe that adjusts the Florentine recipe to fit the fish or simply choose another recipe that doesn't overpower the protein. In this case, you can make our pan-seared lemon caper mahi mahi or use canned mackerel for an easy meal.

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