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Probably the poorest cousin to all the flat fish, lemon sole shares an unpopular postcode with plaice (although the latter deserves a more up-and-coming neighbourhood, surely).
Its flesh cannot match the rich, flaky turbot or the firm, flavoursome Dover. Truth be told – it turns mushy very quickly. It will be good for fishcakes – although filleting best left to the fishmonger – or goujons. No good for a pie, forget about the fish and chips treatment.
I’ve attempted to bring the lemon sole a bit upmarket here, roasting it whole on a bed of lemons, lavishly basted with butter. This approach works well for its more affluent relatives as well as the likes of sea bass and sea bream. Surprise, surprise – it’s really tasty and, unless you keep that poor thing in the oven for inordinately long, not mushy. What do you know? I guess there are three secrets to it, like the French cuisine: butter, butter and more butter.
lemon soleServings: 1 sole per personTime: 40 minutes
- 1 medium lemon sole per person
- 50g butter
- half a bunch of chives, chopped
- 2-3 lemons or limes
- 2cm fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
- a few fresh basil sprigs
- salt and pepper
- a little white wine or vermouth
1. Rinse the fish and pat dry. Using poultry or kitchen scissors cut the dorsal fins along the both sides and remove the tail. Make two or three shallow incisions on the dark skin side of the soles.
2. Melt the butter in a small pan. Chop the chives and add to the melted butter, be careful not to burn it.
3. Slice the lemons thinly and scatter them at the bottom of an ovenproof dish, large enough to contain the lemon soles. Scatter the ginger slices amongst the lemons, tear the basil sprigs and add them to the dish.
4. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.
5. Arrange the lemon soles on the lemon slices dark side up, season with salt and pepper, brush with the melted butter and bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on the size, brushing again with butter halfway through.
6. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.