Dover Sole: Breaking Down a Flat Fish

Dover Sole: Breaking Down a Flat Fish


This lesson involves making the classic dish of sole à la meunière with fondant potatoes and roasted asparagus. The lesson has you begin with the potatoes, which are relatively simple, before moving on to the other components.

Sole à la Meunière, Fondant Potatoes,

and Roasted Asparagus


Starting the Potatoes
Following the chef’s demonstration from the video lesson, peel and shape the potatoes. After that, heat a small amount of grapeseed oil in a small pan. Put the potatoes in with their flatter sides down. Season with salt and pepper. Swirl the pan to make sure nothing sticks.

Let the potatoes brown on one side. Check on them periodically as you work on other components of the recipe, such as the asparagus. When the bottoms of the potatoes begin to become golden brown, you can turn the heat down and wait for a couple more minutes. Once the bottoms are golden brown, flip the potatoes over. Season the tops with salt and pepper. Put the pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Starting the Asparagus
Break one piece of asparagus to find its natural breaking point. Line up the rest of the asparagus and cut the pieces to that length. Next, peel the asparagus, starting halfway down each spear. Don’t push too hard with the peeler.

When they are ready, put the asparagus on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper. Add a small amount of oil and toss the spears around to coat them. Set them aside to cook later. When the potatoes are about 10 minutes away from being ready, place the asparagus in the same oven at 350 degrees. The asparagus will need about seven minutes.

Starting the Sole and Making the Sauce
To begin working on the sole, remove the skin of each fish and break the fish down, following the chef’s demonstration from the video lesson. Season the fish with a light amount of pepper and a generous amount of salt. Lightly coat the fish with flour.

Prepare a pan that fits the fish well. Heat grapeseed oil in the pan. Also prepare a clean work area and a knife for removing the bones from the fish after they come out of the pan. Sliced lemon is needed as well. Because the tail of the fish is thinner than the body, you will eventually put lemon to lift it up and slow down the cooking process.

Lift the fish up. Shake off excess flour. Put it in the pan. Wait 10 seconds and then shake the pan to make sure nothing sticks. Let the pan return to high heat after the pan shock of the fish occurs, and then turn the heat down to medium. After a minute, check on the fish to make sure the bottoms are not getting too dark. Once you can see the protein coagulating on the tails, use the lemon slices to prop them up.

Meanwhile, to make this dish’s sauce, gather the items you will need: lemon juice, butter, salt, pepper, and parsley. Line up the items in this order: parsley, lemon juice, and butter, with two piles of salt and pepper at the end.

Next Steps
While the fish continues to cook, check on the potatoes and asparagus. If the potatoes are starting to puff up, they are forming gas, which means the internal temperature is over 212 degrees. That means the potato is ready. Also check by inserting a paring knife: If there is resistance, the potatoes may need more time.

Assess the asparagus by grabbing the end of a piece and seeing how soft and tender it is. It should be able to flex and compress on the stem when pressed lightly. If the asparagus is ready, you can remove it from the oven and hold it at room temperature for later.

Once the fish are close to being done on one side, remove the lemon and flip the fish, making sure that there is oil in the pan underneath. Add more oil if necessary. Turn the heat up to start the searing on the new side. Give the pan some movement to make sure nothing sticks. After a minute, the fish should be halfway cooked. The goal is to cook the fish all the way through. Reposition the fish if necessary, and then turn the heat down to medium.

Look at the middle of the fish to see how the proteins are coagulating. The proteins should turn fully opaque. Raw fish will remain translucent.

Once the fish is getting close to ready, add a small amount of butter to the pan. Once the butter is foamy, baste the fish with it.

Finishing Steps and Plating
Check the potatoes; they should be ready. Place the asparagus back in the oven to warm it back up, leaving the asparagus for one to two minutes at most.

Put the lemon slices back under the tails of the sole. Check for a golden-‑brown color on the bottom side. Also check to see how cooked the thickest part of each fish is. Continue to baste every chance that you get. Once the fish are ready, remove them from the pan. Take the asparagus out of the oven.

Using a palette knife and following the chef’s video-lesson demonstration, cut the fish in half and remove the bones. Put the fish back together. Carefully transfer it to a plate, using a fish spatula and the palette knife.

To make the sauce, take everything out of the sole pan. Heat the pan over medium heat.


Plate the potatoes and asparagus next to the sole. Once the pan is hot, add butter and let it brown. Listen for the sound to stop. Once that occurs, wait 15 seconds and remove the pan from heat. Add lemon juice and seasoning. Swirl this over the heat and turn the heat off. Add parsley and swirl the pan again. Then, use a spoon to pour the sauce over the plated fish.

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