If you've never had this fish prepared this way, and the whole proposition sounds boring to you -- would you please just try this once so you can see why a classic is irrefutably a classic?
2 Dover soles (each about 3/4 pound after gutting)
2 tablespoons milk
salt and pepper to taste
flour for coating
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
chopped fresh parsley for garnish
lemon wedges for garnish
1. To remove the black skin on the top side of each fish, cut off the dorsal fins and anal fins with scissors. Then, with the dark side up and holding the tail in one hand, make a small incision just above the tail with a sharp knife. Cut a small flap of the skin at that pointjust enough to grab the skin with your hand. Then pull the skin in the direction of the head, pulling the skin away from the flesh. The dark skin should come off easily. (Alternatively, you could ask your fishmonger to perform this operation.)
2. Sprinkle the fish on both sides with the milk. Season well with salt and pepper. Place a bed of flour on a large platter (about 2 cups of flour altogether), and place a fish in the flour. Turn several times to coat, shake off excess flour, and place the fish on a rack to dry. Repeat with the second fish. Dry both fish for 10 minutes.
3. Place 1 stick of the butter in a small saucepan with a spout over moderately low heat. As soon as the butter has melted, skim off and discard the foam on top. Then pour the butter, in one motion, into a small dish, leaving behind the milky solids at the bottom of the pan. (The clear liquid in the small dish is clarified butter.)
4. If you have one pan large enough to cook both fish simultaneously, pour all of the clarified butter into it over moderately high heat. If you don't, divide the clarified butter between 2 pans over moderately high heat. As soon as the butter is very hot, add the fish, skin side up. After 1 minute or so, slide a spatula under to make sure the fish is not sticking. After a total of 3 minutes, check the underside; it should be golden brown. If it is, carefully turn the fish onto its other side. Cook another 3 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown. Remove fish and place on 2 large individual plates.
5. Wipe out most of the clarified butter in one pan with a paper towel, and remove pan from heat. Quickly toss the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into the pan. Within a few seconds, it should be melted and foamy. Immediately pour it over the cooked fish. Top with chopped parsley, place lemon wedges on the side, and serve at once.
Cooking whole fish in a pan, in butter, is a wonderful way of encouraging a crisp, buttery exterior and a perfectly moist interior. And we think it just doesn't get any better than doing it with whole Dover sole— especially if you have very fresh Dover sole. Happily, we often see them in the United States today from Holland. Each fish is under a pound— about 3/4 pound or so after gutting and the removal of the black skin on the upper side —so one Dover sole makes a perfect portion for one diner. This is one fish we wouldn't play around with: the sweet, resilient flesh responds so well to the classic sauté method (in clarified butter), why look for something better? Serve with boiled potatoes, or just a crisp glass of white wine. If you've never had this fish prepared this way, and the whole proposition sounds boring to you—would you please just try this once so you can see why a classic is irrefutably a classic? Serves 2 Recommended wine: Chardonnay