Dover sole or common sole is a prized benthic flatfish found along the shallow coastal waters, stretching from the English Channel, North Sea, the eastern Atlantic to the Mediterranean sand beds. It is popular for its fine, firm, lean white meat and delicate, sweet flavor in French and Mediterranean cuisine.
Scientific name: Solea solea. It is the only true sole fish in the Soleidae family. Other popular names for this fish are Black sole, Sole, River sole, Slip..etc.
|European dover sole (Solea solea).|
Dover sole is a temperate ocean flatfish with a narrower and longer shaped body than other flatfish; brown with dark spots on its dorsal (upper) side and white on the underside. Like halibut and other right eye flounders, common sole also exhibits right-sided eyes and snout.
Common sole easily identified by black spot close to the margin on its pectoral fin, and tail-like caudal fin. The average length is 15-45 cm. Weigh from 10oz to 2.5 lb.
Pacific Dover sole (Microstomus pacificus) is different species from 'true' European sole. Pacific sole features thin, less firm fillets and fetch a lower price.
Senegalese sole (Solea senegalensis Kaup) is closely related to common sole. Its oval, asymmetric body features black color Interradial membrane on the pectoral fin on the eye side in contrast to the common sole (Solea solea), which has a big black compact spot on the posterior side of this fin.
Lemon sole (Microstomus kitt) have an oval body; more rounded than a dover, with a lighter, yellowy-brown dark side.
Dover sole is a demersal fish that exhibits almost similar growth characteristics as other benthic species like turbot, flounders, etc. Adult fish lives on sandy and muddy bottoms, from the shore down to 300 m. North Sea Dover sole spawns in April-June. They feed on fish eggs, worms, small soft-shelled bivalves, small fishes, and crustaceans.
Dover sole is non-oily, shallow water fish and is one of the lowest-calorie flatfish; 100 g holds just 70 cal in comparison to 91 calories in halibut.
It is one of the finest sources of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, E and D (cholecalciferol).
Black sole contains lean, white meat that composes a good amino-acids profile. 100g fish provides 12.41 g/100 g (22% of RDI). Protein composition is complete in the sense that all essential amino acids in healthy proportions.
Its lean meat is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Studies have shown that eating seafood can decreases the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, and hypertension. Seafood is low in saturated fat and higher in “heart healthful” polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acids.
US FDA categorizes Dover sole in "the best choice" section considering mercury levels in its flesh. The recommendation is the consumption of 2-3 servings a week for Dover sole.
Black sole is a moderate source of omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids. Research studies suggest that these fatty acids, particularly DHA, play an important role in the development of the nervous system, especially in infants and children.
According to Cornell University and the New York Sea Grant Extension Program. 2012- the fatty acids play crucial role in decreasing blood pressure and heart rate and help improve cardiovascular function. For example, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) that can lead to sudden death.
In adults, several large trials have evaluated the effect of fish or fish oils on heart disease. In the "GISSI Prevention Trial heart attack survivors who took a 1-gram capsule of omega-3 fats every day for three years were less likely to have a repeat heart attack, stroke, or die of sudden death than those who took a placebo".
Being deep water, non-oily fish, dover sole contains small amounts of Vitamin-A (33 IU/100g). Nonetheless, it carries moderate amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids such as ALA, DHA, and DPA to help keep healthy mucosa and skin.
100 g of Dover sole fillet holds 0.098 mg (7.5% RDA) of pyridoxine (B-6) and 1.04 mg (6.5% RDA) of niacin. It is also good source of vitamin-E, vitamin-B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Sole fillet is naturally rich source of minerals including iodine, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Iodine is an important trace element in human nutrition and is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis.
Black sole is a highly esteemed fish, sought after by fish food enthusiasts. It is available year-round; best during the coldest months of the year. It caught with bottom trawls and marketed fresh and frozen; sold whole or top skinned or as skinless, boneless fillets.
If you buy whole fish; its skin is slimy and sticky. Try to buy filleted instead and keep the bones and head to make fish stock. Better cook it fresh since sole, being a non-oily fish, dry early.
Whole fish may be stored for 2-3 days in the refrigerator at 3-35 d F. Filleted product should be stored in a sealed plastic container, surrounded with ice.
When you buy the whole dover sole, ask your fishmonger to trim the fish fins because these are extremely bony.
Black sole is delicate, mild-flavored, lean, and firm-textured fish. Being a flatfish, a single fish of sole will yield four filets. This versatile fish is prepared in multiple ways, similar to flounder, fluke, dab, plaice, and other flatfish. Enjoy it steamed, salt bake, broil, poached, sautéed. Do not overcook.
Just like other flounders, dover sole is non-oily fish. Poaching in white or red wine best suits its method of cooking. It can also be baked, grilled, or pan-roasted. Cook briefly. Avoid preparation that might dry out the flesh.
Here are some serving ideas:
|Dover sole meniure. Photo credit: Jay cross|
In classic French style recipe, sole à la meunière, whole or fillet sole is pan fried in melted, brown butter seasoned with capers, parsley and lemon.
In simple and quick preparation, sole filets poached in white wine and served with cooked vegetables.
In a similar style, breaded filets pan/oven fried in butter -de sole à l'Anglaise (English-style breaded sole).
In Poland,"filet de Sole Marie Walewska" in which poached sole filets draped in mornay sauce.
Common sole from the north Celtic Sea, the Bristol Channel, and the western English Channel rated as 'Best choices' under sustainability consideration.
Dover sole concentrates small amounts of methyl-mercury in its flesh. The mean mercury concentration in the Atlantic catch is less than 0.09 Parts Per Million (PPM). Accordingly, the U.S FDA final guidelines on how much fish expectant as well as breastfeeding mothers can eat, along with lists of specific options that are safe or should be avoided, places dover sole in the best choice category. By this yardstick, they can consume 2-3 servings a week. (Medical disclaimer).
Also read <<-Salmon nutrition facts and health benefits.
Further reading (Links opens in new window):
Seafood guide -PDF.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.