The Amazing Dover Sole

Dover Sole is now available in East Coast Fish markets.. It’s delicious, nutritious, and has not been overfished either. Further, the National Marine Fisheries Service which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the American Heart Association (AHA) tell us that a 3 ounce portion of sole is said to have one of the highest concentrations of Omega 3 in fish (which is very healthy for us), and are low in mercury.
Yet there is confusion about Dover Sole but not about the flavor. First off there are at least two types of sole. The most prized is the one found in the Eastern Atlantic ocean, from Norway to Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. Called Dover Sole, these sole are sold in supermarkets around the world and are considered a prize catch for their mild, buttery, sweet flavor and for their ease of filleting.
Another variety of sole caught in the Pacific and sold in East Coast, United States markets are also called Dover Sole perhaps because of the name’s prestige associated with the Mediterranian variety.. These are smaller fish with a distinct flavor— also delicious—but not considered a “great fish”. Yet when filleted the Pacific version look like flounder and have the characteristics of the larger Dover Sole. Both are found on the sea bottom, are glistening white and remain a pure white color when cooked and are easy to fillet with few bones.
Dover sole is sold fresh and frozen whole, and can be headed and gutted as well. Dover sole from the Pacific has a mild taste and delicate texture, although it is not as mild as European Dover sole. Availability of fresh Dover sole varies throughout the year while frozen or thawed Dover sole primarily from Alaska is available year-round.

The key to cooking all sole or flounder is not to over cook. Rather prepare at a high temperature to achieve a crispy coating but be vigilant for the fish will become dry and shrivel up if too hot. There are many ways to cook Dover Sole: Bake; Broil; Deep-Fry; Grill; Poach; Saute; Smoke; Steam; or Sushi.
The choices are many but my favorite Dover Sole recipe, a version of which I have adapted below, was first described by Julia Child. It’s elaborated here and is not difficult nor complicated. Give it a try. You will enjoy the dish I feel confident. But remember the key seafood caveat: It it has an odor of fish, before or after cooking, toss it. It’s not fresh nor eatable.

Adapted from Julia Child
Serves 2

2 filets of Dover Sole, Sole or Flounder, rinsed (1/2 Lb)
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt and pepper (for flour)
2 ounces Extra Virgin olive oil
2 ounces whole butter
1/2-ounce dry white wine
1/2 lemon, juiced & seeded
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Further pinch of salt and pepper to taste

1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2- Lightly dust Dover sole in seasoned flour.
3- Heat 2 ounces of olive oil in a medium pan until it begins to smoke.
4- Saute sole or filets until golden brown on each side (about 1 to 2 minutes per side). Finish in oven for 4 minutes. Debone sole if whole or remove any bones from fillets..
5- Sauce: Add 2 ounces of whole butter to a small fry pan and heat until the butter gets lightly brown. Add white wine, lemon, parsley salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over sole. Enjoy!

Chef Alan Zox, Ph.D cooks, writes and teaches about healthy, flavorful food.