This is how the gorgeously fresh flat fish is often cooked at Ballymaloe, just simply baked in the oven then drizzled with a herb butter and a squeeze of lemon juice, or a Hollandaise sauce. All flat fish can be cooked in this way such as turbot, brill, plaice, flounder and lemon sole.
A Dover sole, or black sole (as it is often called in Ireland) is usually large enough for a good main course, sometimes even for 2 people, but something smaller like a lemon sole might be just right for a starter or a small main course.
- 4 very fresh dover sole, on the bone
- Water (50ml/2fl ozs per baking tray)
- salt and pepper
- 75g (3ozs) butter
- 1 heaped tablespoon mixed chopped herbs, parsley, fennel, thyme, lemon balm and chives
- 4 wedges of lemon for serving plus 1 more wedge for squeezing into the juice
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.
- First remove the head from the fish, if you wish! Wash the fish well and lay it on a chopping board white skin side down. Using a sharp knife, cut as neatly as possible, through the skin right round the fish just where the fringe meets the flesh, finishing in an ‘x’ at the tail . Prepare all the fish in this way.
- Pour 50ml (2fl ozs) of water on each baking tray, this is to create steam in the oven. Lay the fish in a single layer (cut side up) on the baking trays, you might fit 2 fish per tray.
- Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 15 (for a small lemon sole type fish) – 25 minutes (for an average sized sole) to even as much as 35 minutes for a brill or turbot. The fish is cooked when the skin lifts easily off the flesh of the fish from the tail end, and the flesh should be opaque white with no trace of pink. When the fish is cooked it will sit quite happily in a warm oven (with the skin still attached) for up to half an hour.
- While the fish is cooking in the oven, make the herb butter. Melt the butter in a pan, then add the herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Keep warm.
- When you are ready to serve, remove the cooked fish from the baking tray and carefully place on warm serving plates, pull the skin from the tail end and peel it off gently (if you want to serve this off the bone, remove the four fillets from the bone now with a fish slice, but I usually serve this on the bone). Pour the hot herb butter over the fish, place a wedge of lemon on the plate and serve.