From frying it, grilling it to cooking it in the oven
Sole is wonderfully tender and juicy when cooked correctly. But what exactly is sole and what is the best way to cook it? In this blog we will discuss this in more detail.
Table of contents
- Chapter 1: What kind of fish is sole?
- Chapter 2: Where does the fish come from?
- Chapter 3: How does sole taste?
- Chapter 4: Is it healthy?
- Chapter 5: Which wine goes with the fish?
- Chapter 6: How to cook sole?
- Chapter 7: Recipe: Pan-fried sole with romaine lettuce, fresh fries and remoulade sauce
- Chapter 8: All recipes
What kind of fish is sole?
Sole is a small brown spotted fish of about 70 cm that belongs to the flatfish species. As the name implies, an adult sole fish is flat.
It’s a small predatory fish that often half-buries itself in the sand to blend in and to lurk quietly for prey that passes by. The flat shape with the brown color ensures perfect camouflage.
The eyes of the fish are rarely directly opposite each other. This is because this species of fish is born upright. After one to two weeks he starts to lie flat and his whole appearance shifts.
Where does the fish come from?
Adult soles feel most at home in a muddy bottom of salt water with a temperature between 8 and 24°C. It usually lives in isolation and can be found in the coastal waters of the eastern Atlantic Ocean from southern Norway to Senegal and in almost the entire Mediterranean Sea. In winter it migrates to the warmer waters in the southern part of the North Sea.
The young fish spend the first two to three years in so-called nursery chambers. These are usually shallow waters and bays that provide safety from predators. The Wadden Sea is an example of such a nursery and is the most important nursery for the sole.
Sole is available all year round, but they’re tastiest in the season between June and January.
How does sole taste?
Sole is a very popular fish among fish lovers. It has a firm white meat that is super tender and juicy when cooked correctly. It has no real fishy taste. Its taste is more like shrimp.
Is it healthy?
Sole is a rather delicate lean fish. It’s not packed with essential omega 3 fatty acids such as fatty mackerel, but it certainly contributes to good health.
Omega 3 fatty acids help your body with cell repair and therefore contribute to the prevention of arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cerebral hemorrhage and other degenerative health conditions. By eating fish such as sole once or twice a week, you already help keep your body healthy.
Which wine goes with the fish?
Because sole is an easily digestible, juicy and low-fat fish, it’s important to complement it with a light, fresh or even citrus fresh wine so that the taste and finesse are not overpowered. Think of a tasty Pinot Grigio, a Sauvignon Blanc or a delicious Vermentino.
How to cook sole?
This fish is ready to cook. It’s a versatile fish that lends itself very well to various, mainly fresh dishes. The juicy taste of sole is best when it’s slowly cooked in butter. Add some lemon after cooking to make it even more tender and add a fresh touch to your dish.
You can also fry the fish in a pan or in the oven, steam it, deep-fry it and grill it. The possibilities are endless! We have the most delicious sole recipes for you.
Before you start cooking the sole, make sure that the fish is at room temperature and that the herbs and possibly a sauce have already been prepared.
If you have caught a sole or bought it fresh from the fishmonger, you can also clean it yourself.
First of all, remove all scales from the white side of the fish with the blunt side of the knife. You work from the tail to the head and against the scales.
You can also skin the fish. To do this, make a notch at the tail and loosen the skin a little bit so that you can get a grip. You can then pull the skin off in one go like you roll up a sleeve. You can use kitchen paper or a clean cloth for extra grip.
Then cut away the head, but be careful not to remove too much meat. Then remove the side fins and cut the tail a little shorter.
Then cut a notch in the belly so that you can remove the organs in its entirety. Once everything has been removed, rinse the fish well and pat it dry with kitchen paper.
Before filleting the fish, place it horizontally on your cutting board. At the top and bottom there’s a small edge where the bones are. Here you cut along, pushing your knife out slightly.
At the ends you now cut the fish open lengthwise from the head down so that the fish fillets come loose. You cut this off after which you can remove the spine with side bones.
Then you will have even smaller pieces of fish left and you can start seasoning the fillets.
Frying it in a pan
If you want to fry the sole in a pan, there’s a chance that the fish will warp and will not cook evenly. To prevent this, it’s best to ‘crack’ the fish first.
- You do this by grabbing the fish at both ends by the tail and behind the gills and gently pulling on it. Do this until you hear a crack.
- Never fry sole in oil or butter that is too hot to obtain an even cooking.
In the oven
Cooking sole in the oven is the easiest cooking method. The fish goes in its entirety in a preheated oven.
- Make sure that there is enough butter or oil in the dish. This prevents the fish from burning. Depending on the size and quantity, you will have a delicious fish after 10 to 15 minutes.
- You can test the fish for doneness by applying light pressure with a fork. If the meat falls apart, the fish is done.
Grilling on the barbecue
If you want to cook sole on the barbecue or on the grill, make sure that it has not been skinned. This keeps the meat together nicely.
- You then fry the fish skin-side down. This becomes so nice and crispy and the meat cannot fall through the grid.
- The fish is ready when it has a core temperature of about 75 degrees Celsius and the meat can fall off. Don’t let the fish cook too long because it will dry out.
How do you eat this fish?
No one likes fishbones while eating. However, the bones of a cooked sole are easy to remove, so you can fully enjoy this fish.
After you have placed the fish horizontally on your plate, push the bones that are on the sides out with your knife. This will loosen the largest fillets at the top, which you can take off. Then the large bone is visible which you can easily remove and you are left with another two fillets.
Recipe: Pan-fried sole with romaine lettuce, fresh fries and remoulade sauce
Pan-fried sole with lettuce, fresh fries and remoulade sauce
- 8 sole
- 2 tbsp wheat flour
- 1 lettuce
- 700 grams waxy potatoes
- ¼ bundle parsley curly
- 1 lemon
- 4 large tbsp remoulade sauce
- lump butter
- splash olive oil
- black pepper freshly grounded
For the remoulade sauce
- 150 ml homemade mayonnaise
- 1 shallot
- 4 gherkins drained
- 1 tbsp parsley finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chervil finely chopped
- 1 tsp tarragon finely chopped
- 1 tsp mustard smooth
- 1 tbsp capers drained
- pepper freshly grounded
- Cut the pickles into small cubes.
- Clean and mince the shallot.
- Mix all the ingredients with the mayonnaise and season generously with freshly grounded pepper and a pinch of salt.
- If you want the sauce to be even extra fresh and/or thin, add some of the drained liquid from the capers.
- Pat the soles dry with a piece of paper towel and season them both sides with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the flour on a platter and toss in the seasoned soles on both sides. Carefully remove the excess flour.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into nice, thick fries. Rinse well underneath the tap and pat dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel. Preheat the deep fryer at 160 degrees and pre-bake the fries for about 5 minutes. Drain well and then increase the temperature to 175 degrees. Just before serving, fry the fries again until they are golden brown. Drain well and sprinkle lightly with a pinch of salt.
- Finely chop the parsley.
- Coarsely pick the lettuce, wash it in cold water and drain well. Just before serving, season the lettuce with a little lemon juice and zest, olive oil and a little bit of finely chopped parsley.
- Heat a large knob of butter in 2 large non-stick pans until the bubbles has disappeared. Carefully slide 4 soles into each pan and fry until the bottom is nicely golden brown. Carefully flip with a wide spatula and let the other side colour as well. Add an extra knob of butter and grate the zest of a lemon on top of it. Add the parsley and deglaze the pan with the lemon juice.
- Arrange 2 soles on a plate and serve with the freshly baked fries and lettuce. Serve the remoulade sauce separately.
Looking for more inspiration? Then see below more recipes with halibut. Or check our fish recipes for even more inspiration.