Published on September 6th, 20120
Soul for your Sole
Appeared in The Resident, Wednesday, May 16, 2012
By Rebecca Dunphy
Believe it or not the best and most sustainably sourced Dover Sole comes from Hastings.
Yes, the ‘Rolls Royce’ of the fish world loves the waters around Hastings and from May to June as stocks are plentiful and prices drop – so this is the time to indulge.
I admit it’s ugly, flat and shaped like the sole of your shoe, with a rough cat’s tongue-like brown skin on one side – ask your fishmonger to remove this for you – but after just one mouthful you’ll understand why top chefs around the world worship our local Dover Sole. Similar to Plaice, but the flesh is whiter, firmer, meatier, cleaner. It’s wonderfully buttery, subtle – sublime!
No need for fancy cooking, simple is best. Grill skinned side up with lashings of butter, season and sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with very best new potatoes and of course a good glass of wine!
Beware of anything too acidic or highly aromatic wine like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. A winner for oily fish like Mackerel or Sardines, but it will destroy our refined Dover Sole. Rich oak is an embellishment too far and reds are a no, no. Fresh, elegant whites work best, which is why God made Chablis. Its restrained lemon minerality is the perfect foil, but in these straightened times there are plenty of cheaper alternatives. Cool climate, unoaked Chardonnay can work just as well and recently I’ve discovered some made in England. The best are from Hush Heath, and Chapel Down, both from nearby Kent.
Apparently, the Ancient Romans were partial to a bit of Sole and Italy is a great source for wines tailor made for this elegant fish. A fresh Pinot Grigio from the North or a melon scented Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi are hard to beat, but if you’re a fan of the Roman Empire, the ancient Fallanghina is the wine to seek out. Grown on the mineral rich volcanic soils east of Naples and named after the Roman Legions’ spears which were then used to stake the vines. This ancient Roman vino has just the right intensity and lemon/orange zip to revive any weary palate – the perfect soul mate for our Dover Sole.
Vesevo, Benevento Falanghina, Campania, Italy, 2009 £9.99
Cooden Cellars Don’t serve too cold so you can fully appreciate the volcanic minerality and freshly pressed lemon, apple fruit.
Chapel Down Chardonnay 2009, £12.50.
Available from www.chapeldown.com
Hat’s off to Chapel Down for making England’s take on Chablis. Light, mineral pure with a clean lemon taste.
Taste the Difference, Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi, Le Marche, Italy, 2010, £6.99.
Available from Sainburys
I love the curvaceous bottle and adore the taste of this fresh melon fruited, slightly nutty white.