Lemon Sole with Tartar Butter

This recipe comes to us from chef and food writer Ben Lippett (@dinnerbyben), and was originally published on his newsletter, How I Cook. It's the perfect use for an oval frying pan. Ben used the Mauviel M'Cook Oval Frying Pan to make it. He says:

'I'm not one that usually goes for unitaskers (things that are made for one job and one job only), however, there's something just so special about cooking in classic pans... A flat fish is a long beast, and can be tricky to cook in a regular round pan. You'll need a pretty large one to squeeze it into. This pan is specifically designed for whole fish.' 

He adds that he's used this pan for far more dishes than whole fish, and that it would be a great canvas for shepherd's pie or boulangère potatoes. 

Serve the lemon sole with French fries or potatoes, a simply dressed green salad, and crisp white wine.

Serves 2


1 450-500g bone-in lemon sole, skin removed
100g plain flour
2 shallots
2 tbsp capers
100g cornichons
20g fresh dill
20g fresh chives
4 caperberries
2 lemons
200g unsalted butter
Olive oil, for cooking
Salt and black pepper


  1. Pat the fish dry and season generously with fine salt; set aside for 5-10 mins. Meanwhile, place flour in a large tray, and keep a separate dish aside. Dredge the fish in the flour, flipping it over a few times to ensure it is thoroughly coated. Pat away the excess flour and set aside on the separate dish.
  2. Peel and cut the shallots into thin discs, separating into individual rings. Set it aside with the capers. Roughly chop the cornichons, dill, and chives; set aside in a separate bowl. Trim any excess stalk from the caperberries and add them to the bowl with the cornichons. Dice half the butter and set aside in a bowl. Cut one of the lemons into wedges and juice the other.
  3. Place an oval fish pan or large frying pan over medium heat. After a few minutes, add a generous glug of olive oil, along with half of the butter. Allow the butter to melt, foam, and just start to colour before you lay the floured fish in the pan. As soon as your fish hits the hot butter, shake the pan. Increase the heat and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and repeat. Baste by spooning the brown butter over the fish as it cooks. 
  4. Insert a cocktail stick or skewer into the thickest part of your fish. If the fish is cooked, it will pass through to the other side with no resistance. Once done, remove the fish from the pan and onto a pre-heated serving dish to rest (see 'BK Tips'). 
  5. Add the remaining butter to the pan. Allow it to melt, foam and then brown before tipping in the shallots and capers. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the remaining garnish, along with the lemon juice. Add a few pinches of salt and finish with plenty of black pepper.
  6. Pour the hot tartar butter straight over the fish. Serve with the remaining lemon wedges, chips, and a green salad. 

BK Tips

  • This recipe comes together very quickly, so Ben recommends having all the ingredients prepared and ready to when you start cooking the fish. 

  • Warm your serving platter and plates in the oven before serving the fish, in an oven pre-heated to 90°C fan. If making chips or roast potatoes, we recommend cooking them in advance and warming them in the oven along with the plates as you cook the fish. 

  • For skinning the fish, Ben used these Wusthof Poultry Shears, which he says is 'fantastic for snipping through any stubborn fishbones your knife doesn't fancy hacking through'. Buy yours here
Image Credit: Ben Lippett