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Friday, January 23, 2015

Sole Française. Dover Sole or Sole Française on French Menus. Dover Sole in France may be on your menu as Sole Française. The Fish are the Same, They Just Have Different Passports!

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Last updated March 2017

Dover Sole
Photograph courtesy of atak.
Sole, the fish.
This member of the sole family is just called Sole or Dover Sole on UK menus. This is the fish to which all other soles and flounders are compared for taste and texture. On French menus, and in French fishmongers Dover Sole will be on sale as Sole, Sole Français, and Sole Bretonne.  The recipes originally created for Dover Sole are the recipes used for nearly all other soles and flounders.
Dover Sole or Sole Francaise on French menus:
Filets de Sole Marguery -  Filets of sole cooked and served in a sauce made with white wine, butter, crème fraiche, shallots, and served decorated with shrimps and mussels.  Marguery, among restaurateurs, is thought of as more than just a great chef. Marguery was the first to organize, as an industry, the Parisian restaurants, and restaurateurs. The organization he created in the late 1800’s still exists.
Marseilles fish market in the old port.
Photograph courtesy of Larry Myhre.
Sole à la Dieppoise  Sole prepared in the manner of the port of Dieppe in Haut Normandie on France's North Atlantic coast. Here the sole will be poached in white wine with mussels and shrimps. Dieppe has always been important as a fishing port and was always one of Paris’s principal sources of fish from the Atlantic. The name Dieppe will be found in recipes for sea fish and seafood from soups to entrees, the American starter, and, of course, in main courses.  

Grilled Dover Sole.
Photograph courtesy of  foodmuse.

      Dieppe remains an active fishing port, but it is also is a major entry and exit point for ferries to and From the UK and elsewhere.  Many who bring their cars to France by ferry begin their French vacation in Dieppe. Paris is just a two and a half hour drive from Paris. If you are considering driving from Dieppe to Paris take a break at Giverny.  In Giverny are the home and garden of the artist Claud Monet and his gardens should not be missed. The English language website with the visiting hours and the costs for those very important "skip-the-line" tickets for Monet's gardens is:
      The English language  tourist information website for Dieppe and the area around Dieppe is:
Sole à la Nantua – Sole Prepared in the manner of the town of Nantua. Sole lightly fried and served with a covering of Sauce Nantua.  Traditionally Sauce Nantua’s main ingredient was the tails from the abundant local crayfish. The crayfish tails were mixed with a Béchamel Sauce made with added butter. The color and flavor of the sauce came from the crayfish’s shells. Today the recipe has changed and the crayfish, unfortunately, will not be local.  

      The town of Nantua is in the department of Ain in the Rhône-Alpes, bordering Switzerland. Lake Nantua, which borders the town, is a center for water sports and just over one hour away from some of France’s most popular ski resorts. If you are looking for more places with great restaurants then make a note that Lyon is just one hour away to the South and Geneva, Switzerland one hour away to the East.
     The English language website for Nantua  may be found at:


A quiet corner of Lake Nantua.
Photograph courtesy of thierry llansades.
Sole à la Normande – Sole in the Norman manner.  The sauce will include cream or crème fraîche with the fish decorated with mussels or other small shellfish.

      The original recipe for Sole à la Normande is credited to a chef called Langlais, which translates as The Englishman in French; I wonder how he got by in Paris with a name like that?   Langlais was the chef, in the 1830’s,  at the then very famous Parisian restaurant  Au Rocher de Cancale.  His original Sole à la Normande recipe included oysters and truffles.  Usually, oysters and truffles will not be in the dish on your menu today.
       If you are walking around Paris, there is still a  café-restaurant called Au Rocher de Cancale at the same address 78 Rue Montorgueil, in Paris’s second arrondissement.  Au Rocher de Cancale today offers good coffee and croissants in the morning as well as lunch and dinner menus. Today Au Rocher de Cancale is a neighborhood restaurant without pretensions.  The Rue Montorgueil and the area around is a great place to wander around.  The street is a permanent market street and one of the best places for buying meat and fish in Paris

A view of the island of Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy.

       Normandy took Langlais’s recipe home, but do not be surprised if menus in Normandy offer Sole à la Normande with changes to the recipe.  Normandy is also home to some of the best cider in France as well as butter, cream, creme fraiche,  Even the mussels served with your sole dish may be the unique small Moules de Bouchot de la Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel AOP,

        When considering a visit to Normandy look at the English language website of the Normandy Tourist Board at:
Sole Bonne Femme    Sole cooked and served in a sauce made with white wine, fresh mushrooms, and crème fraîche. The name translates as sole as made by a good housewife.  Today, the name may not be politically correct; however, a well-made Sole Bonne Femme is still an outstanding recipe for Dover Sole and one of the most famous sole recipes. While the creator of Sole Bonne Femme is, unknown many chefs have used the recipe as a base upon which they have built their own creations.
Sole Duglére - A sole recipe named after its creator, one of France's most famous chefs, Adolphe Duglére (1805-1884).  The sole is cooked using a recipe Duglére originally created for the fish brill and equally as famous.  The Dover Sole is poached in the oven with the white wine, tomatoes, and crème fraîche.   
      Dugléré began his career as a pupil of the most famous chef of the 19th  century Antonin Carême.  Later Dugléré’s would become the Chef de Cuisine at the legendary Café Anglais, in Paris, and his own place in culinary history became assured.  Quite a number of Dugléré’s recipes are still famous today. For example:

Potage Germiny - A beef consommé flavored with, oseille, sorrel, and crème fraîche.

 Pommes de Terre Anna, Anna potatoes. One of France’s most popular potato dishes. The dish was named by Dugléré after a slightly infamous lady who frequented the exclusive private dining rooms on the upper floor of the Café Anglais.

Pomme de Terre Anna.
Photograph courtesy of jay d.
Sole Meunière or Sole à la Meunière - Sole prepared in the manner of a miller's wife. This dish is best when made and served in the traditional manner. Then the fish will be brought to the diner and lightly fried in Sauce Meunière in front of him or her. Sauce Meunière is melted, clarified butter with lemon juice and parsley.  When the fish is ready, the server, hopefully, a true artist, will remove all the bones, along with and the head and tail using just a fish knife or a spoon and a few swift hand movements. The fileted fish will be reassembled and placed in front of the diner in less than two minutes. Then the diner may enjoy the aroma of the Sauce Meunière and enjoy the taste and texture of the greatest recipe for Dover Sole ever created.
The fileting of a Sole Meunière.
Photograph courtesy of jthetzel.
       While Sauce Meunière was created for Dover Sole it is an excellent sauce for many other white fish and will be on many menus.
Sole  Meunière. 
Photograph courtesy of @PreteMoiParis. 
      N.B.: An American or Canadian restaurant with filet of Dover Sole on its menu will not be serving Dover Sole from the UK side of the pond. Real Dover Sole is never on a menu as a filet. The Dover Sole caught on North America’s Pacific coast is another larger member of the flounder family.
Sole Véronique - Filet of Dover sole poached in white wine, covered with a white sauce, usually a Béchamel Sauce and garnished with white grapes. 

Sole Veronique.
Photograph courtesy of justified sinner.
Sole Walewska  The dish named after Marie Walewska; a Polish Countess who became the most well-known of Napoleon I’s mistresses. The original recipe called for truffles with meat from the two-clawed lobster wrapped around by a filet of  Dover Sole. There may be no truffles in today's version; however, Sole Walewska today should still be  Dover sole rolled around meat from the two-clawed lobster, or at least meat from the rock lobster, the owner if the lobster tail. All should be served in a wine and cognac-based sauce.
Dover Sole in the languages of France’s neighbors:
 (Catalan - Llenguado,  (German - zunge or Seezunge), (Italian- sogliola, sogliola volgar, soglia vera, sogliola comune),  (Spanish – lenguado, lenguado común),  (Latin - solea solea).
Dover Sole in other languages:
(Chinese (Mandarin) -欧洲), (Croation – list), (Danish - almindelig tunge), (Dutch – tong),  (Egyptian Arabic - soul shaea), (Greek -  Γλώσσα , glosa),  (Hebrew – sole, moshe rabenu -סולית מצויה), (Icelandic -  sölflúra), (Norweguan – tunge), (Portuguese - sola zwyczajna), (Swedish – tunga), (Turkish - dil balığı). Help with some of the translations come from Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2014. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (08/2014).
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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
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