Last Updated on October 20, 2021
A simple but luxurious recipe for Dover Sole
jump to my recipe for Dover Sole with Crispy Leek
Dover sole is my favourite fish. It reminds me of seaside shacks and homecooked fry ups but also of family celebrations at restaurants. This recipe tries to marry those two styles with capers and leeks to add brightness and crunch. I’m delighted to report that Bradley’s Fish is a sure way to make sure you can get your hands on good quality seafood, imperative when you want to use a fish like Dover sole.
You can also be sure of its origin as you can find a section on their website specifically for fish caught in UK waters, especially important following recent political manoeuvres. European markets for British fish are being used as a bargaining chip as Britain tries to assert its newly independent borders, perfect for far-right newspaper headlines but threatening to the entire British fisheries industry. You can also be sure of Bradley’s Fish’s freshness, almost certainly fresher than the sole I remember getting from the seashore. Bradley’s fish delivered frozen, is frozen at sea meaning that once defrosted, the flavour can taste much fresher than an unfrozen fish that may have been displayed for up to 14 days after catching.
Skinning and gutting a sea bass couldn’t be easier and is a good way to enter into fish butchery. I followed Joel Robuchon’s instructions which are related in the recipe but it seems to be a pretty universal method. The key is the paper towel, without which, grip on the slippery skin can falter and some of the flesh can adhere to the skin as it is removed. It is also important you make sure all of the guts are removed as they do not add to the flavour, although the head is perfect for stock or even popped into a langoustine bouillabaisse.
The leeks in this recipe try to mirror the sweetness in the flesh of the fish, while adding a little crunch and sophistication to what is otherwise a very simple dish. The key to assuring the crispiest leeks without burning is the balance of temperature and moisture. The temperature of the oil should be about 150°C although you don’t need a thermometer to find out, a bit of bread or even a single strand of leak happily floating and bubbling without burning immediately is good enough. Moisture is the second key element as soaking or salting the leeks before they fry would draw out the moisture and leed to them essentially steaming in hot oil, leaving your leeks greasy and floppy. This can also happen if you add to many leeks into the oil at once, or use to little oil as the mass lowers the temperature and the nature of the heat conduction in the oil changes.
Overall, this recipe tries to marry a few different styles in order to best showcase this wonderful fish which Bradley’s makes easily accessible at a very good quality.
A perfect dish for a wintry evening using the best of British fish
- 1 Bradley's Dover Sole defrosted in the fridge overnight
- 1 leek topped, tailed and peeled
- 1 lemon
- 50 ml olive oil
- 50 g butter
- 30 g capers
- 2 bay leaves
- 200 ml vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C
Skin, gut and remove the head of the fish
Skin by snipping the fins with shears, scoring the back end of the fish with a knife on both sides and slowly peeling back the skin to the head, using paper towel to grip
Remove the head of the fish by slicing with a large knife
Gut the fish by opening up the underside and letting running water push the offal out
Cut the leek into roughly 3' long match sticks
Place the fish in a lined baking tray with the bay leaves, torn, capers, half the lemon, sliced , butter, oil, salt and pepper
Bake the fish for 10 minutes
Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan on the stove until shimmering
Fry the leeks until slightly browned and leave to crisp up on paper towel, sprinkled with salt
Serve the fillets with the leek and capers sprinkled on top with a wedge from the lemon
Bradley’s Fish is a well-established business that has operated now for seventy-five years (in fact they are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year). Their comprehensive range of fish is all delivered frozen to ensure that it is kept in the best possible condition. Their fish is frozen at sea as soon as it is caught, in that way it can be delivered to your door in prime condition. And, of course, you can just fill up your freezer for the ultimate easy ‘ready meal’.