The common sole, Dover sole, or black sole (Solea solea) is a species of flatfish in the Soleidae family. It is a flatfish living on the sandy or muddy seabed of the northern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea where it often semi-immerses itself in the substrate. The upper side is greyish-brown while the underside is white. It grows to a maximum length of about 70 cm (28 in). This fish is used for human consumption and is prized as a food fish. It is caught mostly by trawling on the seabed. Greenpeace considers the fishery unsustainable and has added the Greenland halibut to its seafood red list.
The small eyes are close to each other on the right side of the body. This gives the fish the possibility of lurking half-buried in the sand for passing prey. The common sole, just like all other flatfishes, hatches as an "ordinary" fish with one eye on each side of the body. The young metamorphose to flatfish when they are about one cm long. The upper side is greyish-brown and the underside is white. The common sole approaches a maximum length of 70 cm (28 in).
Distribution and habitat
It has a preference for relatively shallow water with sand or mud covering the bottom. It is found in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean, from the south of Norway to Senegal, and in almost all of the Mediterranean Sea. In the winter, it withdraws to the somewhat warmer waters of the southern North Sea. In the UK, a small sole is commercially called a "slip".
Use as food
Chefs prize Dover sole for its mild, buttery, sweet flavour and versatility, and for its ease of filleting. The fish yields fillets that hold together well in a variety of recipes.
The name "Dover" comes from Dover, the English fishing port landing the most sole in the 19th century.
In 2010, Greenpeace International added the common sole to its seafood red list. "The Greenpeace International seafood red list is a list of fish that are commonly sold in supermarkets around the world, and which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries."
Other species named "Dover sole"
Because of its prestige, the name "Dover sole" was borrowed to name the eastern Pacific species Microstomus pacificus, a quite distinct species with different culinary properties: the Pacific sole has thinner, less firm fillets and sells for a lower price.
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