Lemon-marinated sole

Lemon-marinated sole

Sogliola al limone

Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

I found this recipe in Edda Servi Machlin’s fascinating cookbook, The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews. Published in 1981, the recipes and the stories recounted by Machlin are of her childhood in the heart of Jewish Pitigliano (see also her recipe for Sfratti). It’s like time-travelling directly to this fascinating Maremman town in the 1930s.

Her original recipe is called filetti di sogliola al limone del sabato, where she describes this as a dish for Sabbath or Shabbat, a day set aside for rest and worship, observed between sundown on Friday until Saturday evening. It’s a wonderfully simple dish that requires a full night of marinating, so it’s the perfect thing to prepare the day before you want to serve it. Similar to the South American preparation for ceviche, delicate sole fillets are cured in lemon juice overnight and then eaten raw with a dressing of olive oil, parsley and olives. You can also steam these marinated fillets and it’s still a delicious dish. Note that when serving raw fish, it’s imperative that you freeze the fish first.

In Argentario, it’s common to find four-spot megrim, similar to megrim sole, which is wonderful for this delicious, refreshing dish. This is enough for four main servings, but you can halve this and serve as part of an antipasto, too.


Quantity Ingredient
600g whole small soles
or 4 whole small soles
2-3 lemons, juiced
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4-6 good quality black olives in brine, (I like taggiasche olives for this)


  1. See instructions on preparing raw fish.
  2. Put the sole fillets in a shallow dish or container and pour over lemon juice so they are completely covered. Leave to marinate overnight (8–12 hours) in the refrigerator.
  3. Drain the liquid and transfer the fillets to a serving plate. Dress with olive oil and parsley, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove the pits from the olives by flattening them with the side of a kitchen knife and pulling out the pits. Chop roughly and scatter over the fish.


  • You can also do a cooked version of these. In her original recipe, Edda Servi Machlin notes that you can place the plate of marinated fish on top of a pot of boiling water to cook the fish for 5 minutes – if you put a lid over the top to steam it, even 2 minutes is long enough. (Remember, you don’t want the fish to overcook and become rubbery.) To cook the fish this way, I remove it from the marinade, put it on a plate with the olive oil before placing on top of the pot of boiling water and covering. Then, I add the parsley, olives and seasoning. Be careful handling the plate for serving as it will be hot!

Preparing raw fish

  • When eating raw fish you want to be absolutely certain of its freshness. I would recommend buying the fish whole as you can judge its freshness from seeing it whole, especially its skin and eyes. Then ask your fishmonger to fillet it for you. Alternatively, you can take it home and fillet it at home.

    When preparing raw fish, use clean chopping boards (preferably not wood) and knives, and resist the temptation to wash or rinse the fillets in water.

    While the acid in the lemon juice appears to ‘cook’ the fish, it does not kill bacteria as cooking or freezing does. To safely eat raw fish, you need to freeze the freshly prepared fillets for 7 days in a regular home freezer that measures -20ºC and defrost in the refrigerator before marinating.
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again