This recipe is a very versatile one, and would work just as well with a variety of fish. Any sweet, meaty white fish, such as hake, cod and John Dory would make a good alternative, or you could try sea bass or bream fillets if you want a lighter option. If you’re using bass or bream you can skip the oven stage, and simply fry them in the pan: start them off skin-side down, then cook for a few minutes on the flesh side.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (40 votes)


  • 12 asparagus spears
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 Dover sole, scaled, cleaned and trimmed (dark skin removed if you can, otherwise you could slash it in several places with a sharp knife), or other fish of your choice
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable or rapeseed oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 140 g (5 oz) unsalted butter
  • 50 g (2 oz) chopped fresh root ginger
  • 3 tbsp lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 30 g (1¼ oz) fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1½ tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, drop in the asparagus and simmer for 3 minutes or until just tender. Remove from the water, drain and set aside.

To prepare the fish, heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Mix together the flour, chilli powder and some salt and pepper, and dust the fish in it, then shake off any excess. Heat a large, non-stick, ovenproof frying pan over a medium-high heat; use two frying pans if the fish are too large to fit in a single pan. (If you have no ovenproof pans, then preheat a lightly oiled baking sheet.) Add the oil and heat it until it hazes. Add the sole (skin-side down if you’ve part-skinned them) and fry, without moving them, for 3–4 minutes until they form a golden crust. Turn over and transfer the frying pan to the top of the hot oven (or transfer the fish to the warmed baking sheet and place in the oven), and cook for a further 8–10 minutes until cooked through and the flesh is opaque.

For the sauce, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, and let it bubble for 2–3 minutes until it turns a nut-brown colour. Reduce the heat to low, add the ginger, lime juice, pomegranate seeds and chopped coriander and warm it through; don’t overheat it or it will separate. Season to taste. Serve the sole with the asparagus and spoon the sauce over the top.


Recipe from The Incredible Spice Men by Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh (BBC Books, $49.99, hbk, available here)


View all the recipes from The Incredible Spice Men.