I was having my usual scope of the fish counter this week slowly ticking off the things I cannot have because they are not sustainable, beginning to think I probably shouldn’t have anything and am almost certain to turn vegetarian before long. But there in the centre of the counter was something new labelled Megrim Sole and from Cornwall .
I had a quick Google on my phone, thankfully the few articles I could find suggested they fell into the sustainable bracket and tasted good. They were also really cheap these two large fish cost just a pound each.
I did a bit more research at home , I hadn’t realised just how many different types of sole there were, while Dover sole are becoming rare , both lemon and megrim sole are still rated as sustainable. In fact in an effort to direct us away from threatened species, there is some rebranding going on. Remember when pollack assumed it’s French name colin, the larks. This time they haven’t taken the French option which would have been cardine or the Spanish gallos, none of the fun local names sail fluke or whiff. I quite like the idea of eating a bit of whiff but instead they are often labelled Cornish Sole
I borrowed the bones of a recipe from the Marine Stewardship Council who had in turn borrowed it from Tom Aikens . He presented this recipe during the launch of eco-venture Toms Place, the upmarket fish and chip shop where cod and plaice were replaced with sustainable fish including megrim sole, pollack ,ling , gurnard ,dab , mackerel , sprats and wolf fish . Despite some good reviews it closed in less than a year following complaints by Chelsea residents about the frying odour.
I was excited and nervous as I have never cooked a flat fish before. But preparing this sole is quite easy , just a case of pulling the skin off the topside of the fish, though not as easy as this You Tube video makes it look . The skin one mine did not come off in one piece and in a few places pulled some flesh away. Despite some advice to the contrary I also removed the head as I was finding the eyes particular disturbing .
As with most fish cooking I went with simplicity . A lot of recipes suggested filleting but I would definitely need more practice so instead a cooked them whole
This would be a very good fish for anyone who has a problem with bones, the central spine stays intact and there were no small bones just delicious firm white flesh, lovely with the citrus-salt butter. To serve just some steamed romanesco caulflower ( Dig those Fractals) and leeks dressed with a lttle butter and parsley
Grilling the Megrim Sole
Allow one per person
Once skinned I rubbed the flesh with a little rape seed oil, salt and pepper and popped under a very hot grill for a few minutes until golden brown.
Caper Parsley Butter
1 clove of garlic finely sliced
2 tbsp of capers
3 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of parsley finely chopped
Juice of a lemon
- Fry the capers and garlic for a few minutes in half the butter
- Add the rest of the butter and cook until foaming
- Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper