‘The sole is the darling of the sea, of all the things we eat the greatest stimulus to chefly lyricism.’
Soles lead a fairly sedate life, lying flat on the seabed, eating worms and small crustaceans (they have tiny mouths). They’re very well camouflaged and tend to only be eaten by large rays.
Soles are expensive fish and fishermen target them using trammel nets. The methods our fishermen use mean that we only get larger soles and very few other species. Martin thinks it’s better to catch fewer, larger fish and we agree with him. The Marine Stewardship Council has certified the Sussex trammel net fishery for dover soles as sustainable.
Don’t mess about with Dover sole. Its firm, sweet flesh needs nothing more than some clarified butter and maybe some lemon and parsley.
They do benefit from being skinned (have a look at the video). It sounds fairly gruesome, but it’s very easy and doesn’t require any fancy equipment. It's actually quite satisfying, like peeling off a plaster.
Saying that, you can just fry or grill them with the skin on, but do peel it off before eating, it won't crisp up, it's just leathery.
Unlike pretty much every other fish, dover soles actually get better with age (and much easier to skin). If you got dovers and something else in your share this week, eat the other fish first.