Sole is a flat sea fish belonging to the Soleid family. Like all fish in this family, it has eyes only on one side of the body while the other one is blind. This feature, however, is not present from birth, in fact the flat fish is born "straight" like all other fishes, then with time it tends to lie down towards one side which thus becomes the belly; consequently the eye and the nostril, which are on the side of the belly, move until they rejoin the other eye and the other nostril of the side, that has now become the back (in the case of the sole it is the right side) and takes on a darker color so that the fish can blend in with the seabed. On the contrary, the opposite blind side is always white.
The sole has an almost perfectly oval, elongated body and can reach a maximum of 60 cm. The skin is covered with small rough scales. Plus, the dark part must always be removed before cooking the fish, while the light one can be kept.
It lives in the sandy seabed and has a two-tone livery: camouflage on one side (where the eyes are present) and clear on the other (which faces the sand). There are experimental farms, but mostly sole is fished and is widespread in all great seas. Among the most wanted, sold at retail, there is the Adriatic sole, which has a tender and delicate flavour, while the Dover sole is tastier and larger. On the market there is also the Atlantic one, fresh or frozen, whole or in fillets. The most common sole remains the common one; however, there are other varieties, even if less valuable.
Sole in the kitchen
It is one of the most popular fishes in the kitchen: it can be cooked whole or filleted. The scraps (head, skin, bones, etc.) are essential for the fish broth to which they give in fact an excellent flavour. The meat is very delicate and requires a short cooking; it can be prepared in a pan, with oil and butter but even grilled, floured and fried, steamed or stewed. Sole is also an ideal ingredient for dishes with a gourmand soul. From a nutritional point of view, it is low in fat and rich in proteins and vitamins (A and B). Highly digestible, it is also suitable for children.
How to buy and store sole
Before buying sole, it is important to check that the skin is well attached to the pulp and has no yellowish hues. The smell must be pleasant (without scents reminiscent of ammonia) and the eye has to be very dark (not reddish) and protruding. The sole can be stored for one day in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer (at -18 °).