Grilled or Fried Dover Soles

A Dover sole eaten on the day it is caught is one of the greatest sea fish of the world. Most of the soles from the south coast are sent to London and are none the worse for a quick, short journey. The Victorians, who appreciated Dover soles, thought of dozens of ways of garnishing them and dressing them up. They were served with lobster, prawns, green grapes, mushrooms or artichoke hearts. They were cooked in cream with truffles or in a fine cheese sauce, with melted or black butter, with slices of apple, or filleted and stuffed. All these dishes are good and are not quite the same if made with a slightly cheaper flat fish such as lemon sole or plaice, but Dover sole, particularly if not too large, is best of all cooked and served quite plainly.

Soles should be served with a quarter of a lemon, to squeeze over them, and plenty of very thinly sliced fresh bread and butter. They may be sprinkled with a very little fresh parsley with which a single sprig of tarragon is finely chopped. The fishmonger will clean and skin the sole and this is necessary as the skin is rough and prickly. The fish is better served whole than filleted.

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  • 1 sole about lb (½ kg) or 2 smaller ones
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned flour
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
  • 2 teaspoons very finely chopped parsley with a single sprig of tarragon, if liked
  • 1 lemon, cut in quarters
  • Salt and pepper


Rub the seasoned flour over both sides of the fish.

In a large, heavy frying-pan, heat the butter until it is foaming. Put in the sole. If large, cook for 6 minutes on the first side and then carefully turn with a slice and cook for 4 minutes on the second side. If small, cook for 4 minutes on the first side and about 3 minutes on the second side.

Dish up quickly, sprinkle with the herbs, put quarters of lemon at the sides of the dish, pour any remaining butter over the fish and serve very hot.