Whole Poached Dover Sole with Thyme Butter Sauce

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

A Feast of Fish

A Feast of Fish

By Ian McAndrew

Published 1989

  • About

This is a very simple dish to prepare and cook and yet it is so effective and tasty. If you cannot get hold of fresh thyme, try chopped chives instead, or even shredded mint leaves. Go on, experiment!


  • 4 X 225-275 g/8-10 Dover sole
  • 350 ml/12 fl oz fish stock
  • 175 ml/6 fl oz dry sherry
  • 115 g/4 oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 225 g/8 oz unsalted butter
  • 5 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 50 ml/2 fl oz double cream


    Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.

    Skin the sole, remove the heads and blood clots behind the heads and rinse well. Trim off the fins and the ends of the tails with a pair of scissors. Butter an ovenproof pan or dish large enough to take the fish without overlapping, put in the fish and add the fish stock and 150 ml/¼ pint of the sherry. Cover with buttered paper or foil and poach in the oven until cooked – about 6-8 minutes. When cooked, remove the fish from the stock and keep warm. Put the liquor into a saucepan and reduce until syrupy.

    Meanwhile, moisten the breadcrumbs in the remaining sherry, then melt 50 g/2 oz of the butter and mix into the crumbs. Add 2 teaspoons of thyme and season. Lay the fish on a flat surface and cover each sole with a generous layer of the crumb mixture. Place the fish under a hot grill and brown evenly. Remove from the grill, cover and keep warm.

    When the liquor is syrupy, pour in the cream and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the remaining butter in small pieces, beating with a small whisk until it has all melted (once you have added the butter do not let it come back to the boil).