Sole Meuniere | JC 100 – Week 7

This week the folks representing Julia Child finally decided to bring out the infallible Sole Meuniere, the recipe that changed it all for Julia! Now I can’t attest to having an “AHA” moment like Julia Child upon first bite, but I must say this was some pretty tasty fish! I will be honest, I was ready to be underwhelmed just based off the fact that this recipe has so much hype surrounding it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying what became a very simple and delicious meal! The Sole had a wonderful browned, crisp and buttery exterior, with a soft, flaky interior, which, topped with some lemon juice, was excellent.

Fillets of Sole Meuniere

Excerpted from The Way to Cook by Julia Child. Copyright © 1989 by Julia Child. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

 

  • 6 skinless & boneless sole or other thin fish fillets, all of a size, 4 to 6 ounces each & 3/8 inch thick
  • Salt & freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup or so flour in a plate
  • About 4 Tbs clarified butter
  • 3 Tbs minced fresh parsley
  • 4-6 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 Lemon, cut into wedges
Special Equipment Suggested:
2 Heavy no-stick frying pans would be useful, to hold all the fish at once; hot plates or a hot platter; a wide plastic spatula.

 

To clarify butter. The simple system is to melt the butter and pour the clear yellow liquid off the residue.

The more thorough professional system is to cut the butter into smallish pieces for quick melting. Bring it to the slow boil (on low heat) in a fairly roomy saucepan, listening and watching for several minutes until its crackling and bubbling almost cease, indicated the milky liquid has evaporated and the clarification is complete. (At this point watch that the butter does not burn and darken.) Pour the clear yellow butter through a tea strainer into a preserving jar. It will turn a yellowish white when cold and congealed, and will keep for months in the refrigerator or freezer.

Preparing the fish. Dry the fish, remove any bones, score, trim and flatten it. Lay it out on a sheet of wax paper. Scoring the fish: Step 1 – To help prevent thin fillets from curling up when cooked, make diagonal cuts 1 inch apart and less than 1/16 inch deep in the skin side (milky side). Step 2 – Lay the flat of your big knife on the fillet and and give one firm punch with your fist to flatten it.

Sauteing. Dust the fillets lightly on each side with salt and pepper. The moment before sauteing, rapidly drop each into the flour to coat both sides, and shake off the excess. Set the frying pans or pan over high heat and film with 1/16 inch of clarified butter. When the butter is very hot, but not browning, rapidly lay in as many fillets as will fit easily, leaving a little space between each. Saute a minute or two on one side, turn carefully so as not to break the fillet, and saute a minute or two on the other side. The fish is done when just springy rather than squashy to the touch of your finger. Immediately remove from the pan to warm plates or a platter. (Or, if you are sauteing in 2 batches, keep the first warm for the few minutes necessary in a 200ºF oven.

Sauce and Serving. Sprinkle each fillet with parsley. Wipe the frying pan clean, set over high heat, and add the fresh butter, heat until bubbling and pour over fillets-the parsley will bubble up nicely. Decorate with lemon wedges, and serve at once.

Troubleshooting:

  • The fish didn’t brown. You may have crowded too many fillets in the pan, and there was no room for browning-the fish steamed.
  • Or perhaps the butter was not hot enough.
  • Or your pan was too light in weight; it did not conduct and spread the heat.
  • Or the pan might have been too big for the heat source. A 12-inch frying pan cannot heat up all over on an 8-inch burner.

There you have it, some “Hot Buttered Sole” (any Isaac Hayes fans out there?).  Now being the son of a Dad who fishes professionally, I have grown up loving fish all my life and have been treated to fresh Walleye/Pickerel very regularly (which is amazing), so this recipe had a lot to live up to! Fortunately I was not disappointing! The richness of the clarified butter, matched with the zing of the fresh lemon juice was perfect together! I will definitely be cooking by this method more regularly, and can’t wait to bring home some fresh walleye to try it out again!

Hope you enjoyed!

Bob

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