16 February 2008

Sole Meunière

Sole à la Meunière
Sole Meunière (with title)
I'm not sure when it was, but it must have been around 1995 when I first had my taste of Sole Meunière, which was also one of the first (if not THE first) meal I had in my favorite restaurant, Uno (Scout Fuentebella, Quezon City). It was that first bite that told me, "This is LOVE." There's really nothing to it, but coincidentally, it's also the first meal that Julia Child had in France, with which she had a "culinary epiphany," when she knew that French food was IT and there would be no looking back. In many ways, it was an exciting revelation for me too, even if I was only 13 at the time and I didn't come around to really cooking until I started this blog 12 years later. But I had to keep coming back to Uno. Not to order the same thing (thank heavens they always change their menu every quarter and they have daily specials), but there's something in the sole that awakened my taste buds (NO, I will NOT make a pun about sole and my soul). A whole new world had been revealed to me. So, what meal was your culinary revelation?

Sole Meunière is absolutely divine, but it doesn't make an appearance on many blogs. Bloggers might say it's because it's too simple. Graeme might say it's because it's fish. Some might say it's because it's too old. Call it old, I call it a classic (which, come on, it is). And simple often produces the best results. It's especially great for boosting a newbie's confidence in the kitchen, as you can't fuck it up.

Sole Meunière
There are many variations of this dish: chopped parsley is a popular addition at the end, as are capers. Some use half-olive oil and half-butter for the sauce, which would minimize the burnt milk solids from the butter, but I like the taste and feel of an all-butter sauce. Your call. The recommended fish to be used are Dover Sole and Petrale Sole (actually not a true sole but a flounder), but I used Lemon Sole because that's the only fillet they had on hand and I didn't feel like filleting my own fish on Valentine's day (maybe for the future, as it's much cheaper, and I like a challenge). This is for any quantity of fish. If you have a lot of fish to fry and the butter is starting to smell burned, throw it away and use some new butter. However, I cooked three batches of fish without any problem.

  • Petrale/ Dover sole fillets

  • salt and fresh-ground pepper

  • all-purpose flour

  • 45g (3 tablespoons or 1/2 stick minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, plus 15g (1 tbsp) for later

  • half a lemon

Make sure the fillets are thoroughly thawed. Season very lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.

In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt the 45g butter. As soon as the butter stops foaming, dredge both sides of each fillet lightly in flour; slap the fish around to get rid of as much excess flour as you can. Lay them out on the pan, being sure not to overcrowd the pan (maybe 3 fillets at a time). Cook for 3-5 minutes (5 minutes if you had thicker fillets like I did, but it really won't take long especially if you thawed them well), turning once during cooking. Drain the fillets and lay them out on the serving platter. Melt the additional 15g of butter into the now-browned butter in the pan and turn off the heat. Squeeze the lemon into the pan and stir together well. Pour the sauce over the fillets.

Before I added the lemon, in the butter I sautéed green beans cut at a steep diagonal (very acute angle, as I had no bean cutter) that had been cooked in salted boiling water for 3 minutes and shocked on cold water and drained. I also sautéed some potatoes that I had boiled for 10 minutes in salted water.

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