Dover sole is one of the most prized of fish, due to its delicate flavour and firm flesh that holds together when cooked. Sole Meunière is a traditional French dish that rose to worldwide fame when the renowned cookbook author Julia Child first mentioned it in her bestselling book. It’s deceptively simple. But to achieve a perfect presentation, everything has to be just right. This recipe will also work well with a lemon sole or megrim as an alternative fish.

Sole Meunière History

The name “sole” was given to this shape of fish in Roman times and is thought to come from the fish being the same shape as a sandal,  solea being the Latin word for sandal. A dover sole’s scientific name is Solea solea.

The name of the dish sole meunière is derived from ‘miller’s wife,’ this comes from the flour, which is one of the small number of ingredients in the recipe. Sole meunière is said to be a favourite of Franc’s ‘Sun King ‘King Louis XIV. This cooking method is probably very old and is likely to date back to the development of butter and the milling of wheat.

Ingredients for Sole Meunière

Dover sole from Walter Purkis & Sons (We can fillet, skin and trim the fins for you in the shop.)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
Plain flour
100g unsalted butter

For the sauce

100g unsalted butter
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Cooking Method For Sole Meunière

Season the fish with salt and pepper then dredge in the flour until coated all over. Shake off the excess.

Heat the butter (see note on clarified butter below) in a frying pan on a high heat and fry the thin side of the sole (the underside of the fish, that had the white skin) for about 4–5 mins until brown .

Now reduce the heat. Flip the fish over to cook the other side. Baste the fish with the butter for about 3 mins until the other side is just done. TIP: Tilt the pan to form a pool of butter and use a spoon. Remove the fish to a warmed plate while you make the sauce.

Discard the butter from the pan, wipe to remove any brown or black elements that will come from the butter or flour. These can be bitter and will also detract from the look of your finished dish. Repeat with more fish if you have more diners.

Heat 100g butter in the fry pan (medium heat) until foaming. Add the lemon juice and boil for a moment, Whisk together and then add the parsley. Pour over the fish. Garnish with a little more chopped parsley.

Serve the whole fish right away. This mean that you will want to have your accompanying vegetable ready serve as well. Small new potatoes are perfect with this recipe.

Classically the dish is served at the table on the bone however fillets will also work well. We can fillet for you in the shop.

Clarified Butter

There is no substitute for the taste of butter in good cooking, especially when you are sautéing delicate foods like fillets/whole Dover sole. However plain butter will burn and speckle rapidly because of the milky residue it contains, but when you clarify the butter you rid it of that residue. A simple way to do this is to melt the butter and pour off the clear yellow liquid discarding the white solids residue.

You can find other sole recipes here on our blog >>