Culinary Arts

Chef Thomas Keller’s Dover Sole Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Oct 14, 2019 • 3 min read

“If you have the opportunity, I would certainly recommend ordering a Dover sole at a restaurant where they have tableside service, because to see a qualified server fillet a Dover sole and serve it to you at the table is really a wonderful experience.” - Chef Thomas Keller, of Napa Valley’s Yountville restaurants Bouchon, Ad Hoc, and The French Laundry, and New York’s Per Se.

There are two fish that Chef Keller regards as seafood royalty. One is turbot. The other is Dover sole. Dover sole, also known as black sole, is one of many kinds of flatfish that lend themselves well to this recipe. Others include lemon sole, petrale sole, and small flounder. Talk to your fishmonger about these fish and find out the freshest options available to you.

Dover sole fillets provide a firm and meaty template that lends itself to several classic preparations. The following sole meunière is one such preparation; Chef Keller’s recipe omits black pepper and leaning on a balance of cream and acid from the beurre meunière sauce’s butter and lemon juice to balance out the dish.

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How to Prepare Dover Sole

Watch Chef Keller demonstrate how to properly score the dover sole fillets before cooking.

How to Serve Dover Sole

There are three brown butter sauces that traditionally accompany Dover sole:

  1. Beurre meunière, which is made with parsley and lemon juice.
  2. Beurre amandine, with the addition of raw almonds.
  3. Beurre grenobloise, with the addition of lemon, capers, and croutons.

Chef Thomas Keller’s Dover Sole Recipe

Ingredients

Simple and straightforward yet packed with flavor, this technique is for home cooks and professionals alike.

  • Clarified butter
  • 1 Dover sole, approximately 600 grams, skin removed, cleaned, head and tail removed
  • Kosher salt
  • All-purpose flour
  • Beurre meunière sauce
  • Maldon sea salt flakes
  • 1 lemon, cut into crowns for serving

Equipment:

  • 12-inch nonstick sauté pan
  • Kitchen towel
  • Large bowl or platter (for the flour)
  • Spoons
  • Paring knife
  • Cooling rack set over a sheet pan
  • Cutting board
  1. Set a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Pour in enough clarified butter to coat the bottom of the pan by approximately 1/8 inch.
  2. Pat the sole dry with a clean kitchen towel. Season both sides of the fish with salt. Dredge the fish in a large bowl or platter of flour, lift it out of the flour, and use your fingers to gently tap the fish to remove any excess flour.
  3. When the butter begins to smoke, place the fish in the pan thinner side (i.e., white side) up, and reduce the heat to medium-low. After 2 minutes, use a spoon to baste the fish with the hot butter to expedite cooking, approximately 1 minute. Turn the fish over and baste occasionally for 2 minutes before it becomes too crispy.
  4. Check the doneness of the fish by testing the resistance with a paring knife: It’s cooked if the blade easily penetrates the fish; the fish is still raw if the knife bounces back. Once the top side of the fish is cooked, turn the fish over and baste until the other side of the fish is cooked. Transfer the fish to a cooling rack set over a sheet pan to drain.
  5. Transfer the fish to a clean cutting board. The thinner side (i.e., white side) of the sole should be facing up. Use a spoon to score the fish down its vertebrae and separate the fish from its spine, creating two bottom fillets. Carefully transfer the dover sole fillets, cooked side down, to a plate. Remove the backbone by using the spoon to guide and separate the backbone from the flesh. Create two more fillets with the thicker side of the fish and place these fillets, cooked side up, on top of the two bottom fillets, reassembling the fish on the plate.
  6. Make the beurre meunière. Arrange the finished pommes château next to the fish and spoon the beurre meunière over the top. Finish with a sprinkle of Maldon salt and crowned lemons.

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