I recently posted about trying Pacific Dover sole, as well as listing true Dover sole on my seafood wish list. The only real sole I’ve ever tried was in Portugal, where my wife and I enjoyed small grilled soles that I believe are called Senegal sole. But I want to try the real deal, the so-called “Rolls-Royce” of fish. However on this side of the Atlantic it is hard to find outside of big city restaurants, I wouldn’t know where to look if I wanted to buy some to prepare at home.
So imagine my surprise when I am contacted by Alistair Blair of The Fish Society, a fish dealer based in the UK that sells an impressive array of fish and other seafood online. After taking a tour of their website I was amazed at not only their variety, but the fact they can ship to the US! Which then led to this friendly email:
Further to our conversation, I want you to experience our UK to US frozen fish delivery service which is a marvel! US fish lovers need to know about it! And about us! So I’m going to send you a pair of your favourite fish – Dover soles – by DHL for delivery next Wednesday. These will arrive free of charge.
Fingers X’d the delivery does AOK, you like the soles, you write a great review and we get loads of orders! Then we might send you a turbot. I guess, if for some reason you can’t give us a wholesome review, the only thing I would ask you to leave out is this email!
All the best, Alistair Blair
What an offer! Besides getting to sample one of the most prestigious fish on the market, I also get to experience ordering fish online. Ordering seafood online has been one my goals here at Buying Seafood, but I’ve been apprehensive about shelling out a lot of money for something that may be sub-par. The Fish Society assured me that not only will the fish be perfectly frozen, but will be at my door a mere two days after it ships. And true to their word, it shipped on a Monday and was in my hands by early Wednesday afternoon.
Whole Dover Sole from The Fish Society: The Packaging
The whole Dover soles were individually sealed and perfectly frozen when I took them out of the package. Although the dry ice was just about depleted the tightly packed styrofoam cooler was nice and chilly. The fish would probably still be in great shape if they arrived late. DHL was very thorough in giving me updates during the day so I could track this precious cargo.
The Quality of the Product
The two soles weighed about 1 pound apiece and were frozen whole, not gutted. It took 24 hours for the last of the ice crystals to melt and what I found were two true Dover soles in pristine condition. At this time of year the soles had some roe in the cavity, I mangled some of it but was able to get out a couple of roe sacks to give to my father as a treat . Those old Gloucester fishermen love to fry up roe, which usually stinks up the place.
When it came to cleaning the Dover soles I was amazed at how tough the skin was, but thanks to the video below I learned a trick that work perfectly. I ended up removing the heads only because they were a little too big for my frying pan.
Dover Sole Meunière
Being new to this fish I went to The Fish Society website where I found a video by Rick Stein on how to prepare sole meunière.
The Verdict: How Was Dover Sole From The Fish Society?
What a treat! I made a butter/herb/lemon sauce for it but it was very tasty on its own. The flavor is mild and buttery and the texture is different from the various flounders I’m used to, firm enough that the whole fish stays together even fully cooked. Familiar in some ways but different enough to be a deliciously unique experience. Mine still had some roe that I missed and it was milder than the other fish roes I’ve tried. My wife and I ate every bite, even my 6-year-old demanded a few more bites and I honestly would have eaten a little more… it was that good.
Besides the great taste of the sole, you can tell that the fish were of the highest quality to start with. Throughout the whole process I was remarking about how good the fish looked.
So what more can I say? The Fish Society has exceeded my expectations and gets my endorsement as a top-notch online seafood retailer. I am very interested in comparing this great experience against some of our domestic online seafood suppliers to see how they stack up. Right at the start, The Fish Society has set the bar pretty high.
Thank you to Alistair and the staff for an opportunity I won’t soon forget!