Sole is a member of the flatfish family. It is an elongated oval in shape and, depending on the type, varies in colour from dark brownish-grey to reddish-brown. Both eyes are located on the right side of its head.
Sole is found in most temperate climates, especially around the coasts of northern Europe, and is available all the year round.
The common sole, called Dover sole in Europe, is considered to be a most delicate and delicious fish and is much prized by gourmets. (French haute cuisine has innumerable garnishes and sauces specially invented to enhance its unique flavour as you will see from the recipes which follow.)
Lemon sole, witch sole and megrim, although similar in shape and size to the common or Dover sole, are not strictly speaking soles at all but slightly inferior species of flatfish. Certainly, as far as gastronomy is concerned, they are not considered to be nearly as fine as common or Dover sole.
Sole may be poached, fried or grilled . To poach sole, either whole fish or fillets, place the fish or fillets in a fish kettle, saucepan or casserole and just cover with fish stock or white wine or a mixture of the two. Either poach the fish over moderate heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork, or in an oven preheated to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C) for the same length of time.
To fry sole fillets, first coat them in either egg or milk then in breadcrumbs or flour. Fry them in butter over moderate heat for 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.
To grill sole fillets, place the fillets on the rack in the grill pan and dot with a little butter. Grill the fillets under a grill preheated to moderate for 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.