Dover Sole: A Fish for Non-Fish People

What is Dover Sole?

If you have yet to experience the pleasurable umami of a fresh Dover Sole filet, you have been missing out on a real treat. This meaty white fish makes for a filling and delicious meal, even among people who do not typically enjoy the taste of seafood. Unlike other types of fish, Dover Sole has a distinctly mild and sweet flavor, and is not “fishy” in the least. Its texture is firm, which makes it easy to slice into filets and helps it hold together throughout even the heartiest of preparations. It’s also quite adaptable to most sauces and seasonings, making Dover Sole a true culinary favorite. 

Wild and Fresh Caught Dover Sole Near Me

But not all soles are the same. If you want the authentic experience of Dover Sole, it’s worth taking a deeper dive into what makes this fish so special. This article will explore the differences among the types of sole. We’ll also show you some simple recipes that you can whip up from the comfort of your home, and where to purchase these fresh and quality fish (see Kolikof Caviar and Gourmet Foods).

What is the Difference Between “True” Dover Sole and “Pacific Sole”?

Dover Sole is a species of flatfish. Its distinguishing features are that it has two eyes on the right side of its face and a tiny mouth on the left side of its face. Sometimes referred to as “Slippery Sole” due to their excessively mucousy skin, Dover Sole live near the ocean floor, and can often be caught in shallow waters. The older the fish, the further into the depths of the ocean they tend to travel. 

The Dover Sole gets its name from the cold waters of the Dover Strait, between England and France. In the 1800s, the town of Dover was the largest producer of the fish. Dover Sole can be found in the Northern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It is said that the most delicious Dover Sole hail from the Bay of Biscay.

Pacific Sole, also known as  “West Coast Sole,” refers to a species of fish that can be found from Baja Mexico to the Bering Sea. Though often passed off and prepared like Dover Sole, it is an entirely different species of flatfish. In fact, the Pacific Sole is not actually a sole, but rather a flounder. But since sole are more marketable, that is the name they go by.

True Dover Sole is known to have a firmer texture and a more mild flavor profile than Pacific Sole. The Pacific Sole also tends to yield thinner filets that fall apart more easily.  

If you are on the West Coast though, Pacific Sole is not a bad option. For one thing, it will be less expensive than actual Dover Sole, since it does not need to be shipped from Europe. And, you can be sure that the U.S. enforces strict regulations to deter overfishing and encourage sustainability. 

Dover Sole Fish Farming

With the growing technology and shifting attitudes in favor of sustainable foods, farming Dover Sole has become a popular alternative to fishing them from the wild. In Spain, Iceland, and other places worldwide, Dover Sole are farmed in freshwater tanks. Indoor recirculating systems reduce the likelihood of disease outbreak and lessen exposure to pollutants, making for a cleaner and healthier fish. 

How to Cook Dover Sole

Dover Sole is a flexible fish that can be prepared in a variety of ways. Because its filets tend to be on the thinner side, recommended cooking methods include steaming, poaching, or pan-frying on a stove-top. You can also bake or broil your Dover Sole, but keep in mind that this runs a higher risk of drying out the filet more quickly. Another delicious and healthy option is to grill your sole with just a bit of lemon, oil, and seasoning. 

Because it is a meatier fish, Dover Sole does well when topped in sauces, and its flesh is great at absorbing fatty flavors. Remember, though, that sole tends to cook quickly, so keep an eye out for overcooking, especially if you’re planning to put it in the oven. Once fully cooked, the fish should still remain intact. Below are some simple preparations that you can try at home.

Most Popular Sauces for Dover Sole

Dover Sole Meunière

Meunière refers to the classic French style of preparing Dover Sole. This savory brown butter sauce is both simple and elegant. It consists of lemon juice, capers, parsley, and of course, butter.  Actually, two types of butter: you’ll need both clarified butter as well as a fatty butter, like French butter.

First, lightly coat your fish in flour, salt, and pepper. Then, heat the clarified butter in a saute pan. You can swap the clarified butter for canola oil if you’d like. Brown the fish for about four minutes on each side. Once cooked, transfer your filet to cool on a cooking rack. 

Meanwhile, brown the fatty butter–but be careful not to overdo it. Once the butter is lightly browned, squeeze some fresh lemon over it and add your parsley and capers. Top your Dover Sole filets with this delicious sauce, and serve!

For a variation on this dish, you can forgo the capers and instead add lightly toasted almonds (this garnish is referred to as amandine from the French word for almond). 

Dover Sole Béarnaise

Béarnaise is a heavy European sauce with a buttery texture that is accentuated by fresh tarragon. Needless to say, this creamy sauce is just simple enough to elevate the delicate flavor profile of the Dover Sole. 

To make this sauce, you’ll start by putting eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne, and white wine vinegar into a food processor. Meanwhile, melt the butter on the stove top. We recommend using a quality butter. 

While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the hot melted butter. Once the base has fully blended together, add your fresh tarragon leaves. Voila! A fantastic, homemade béarnaise sauce from your own kitchen. Bet you didn’t realize how easy that would be!

As far as the method of preparation for the fish, feel free to repeat the breaded pan-fried process from the meunière recipe above. You can also opt for a crunchier crust by using cornmeal or panko breadcrumbs. 

Dover Sole - A Simple Preparation

Despite its infamous culinary resilience, Dover Sole also fairs well with simplistic preparations, since its natural taste is so succulent on its own. A little lemon, salt, and black pepper go a long way. Garlic and scallions will also easily elevate an already delectable dish. And, if all else fails, you can never go wrong with a little tartar sauce! 

Pairing Dover Sole with Wine

Pair Dover Sole with a dry and mild white wine, such as Chardonnay, Chablis, or Sauvignon Blanc so as not to overpower its subtle taste. A crisp, aromatic Riesling is also a fine choice.  

Where Can I Buy True Dover Sole?

Kolikof Caviar and Gourmet sells only true Wild Caught Dover Sole, flown in directly from the salty waters of the Dover Strait. 

Kolikof sells true Dover Sole in a variety of preparations. For the adventurous chef, we recommend the Kitchen-Ready Dover Sole. This beautiful whole fish is 2 lbs, skinned, and contains its intact, easily-removable spine. But be ready to debone, as the Kitchen-Ready Dover Sole is intended for an authentic culinary experience. (Pro-tip: save your Dover Sole bones to make your own fish stock!)

If this sounds a little too intimidating, no worries! Our sole is not just for Michelin-Star chefs. Kolikof also offers 1 lb Dover Sole filets, which are skinned, cleaned, and ready to cook. No deboning necessary!

Regardless of which preparation is right for you, you can always count on Kolikof to deliver this freshly caught fish weekly. Order today for a fine-dining experience from your very own kitchen.

1 comment

  • pamela murphy

    how do i order dover sole filet with no bones

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