Fillets of Sole Meunière
Recipe by Julia Child*
Fillets of Sole Meunière was one of the first dishes Julia Child tried when she arrived in France and she fell in love with it. There's a scene in the move "Julie & Julia" dedicated to this first taste and it's one of my favourite scenes...Julia can barely speak yet conveys her absolute delight with the dish. Now, my reaction to this dish was not as dramatic but I love the simplicity and perfection of a fresh, delicate fish cooked with butter. There is nothing better than butter! Enjoy!
6 skinless and boneless sole or other thin fish fillets (best choices are Dover sole, tray sole, flounder, whiting and trout), all of a size, 4 to 6 ounces each and 3/8 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup or so flour in a plate
About 4 tablespoons clarified butter (see notes below)
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
4 to 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1. Making Clarified Butter:
There is no substitute for the taste of butter in good cooking, especially when you are sautéing delicate foods like chicken breasts, or fillets of sole, or when you are making croutons. Plain butter will burn and speckle rapidly because of the milky residue it contains, but when you clarify the butter you rid it of that residue.
The more thorough professional system is to cut the butter into smallish pieces for quick melting. Bring it to the slow boil in a fairly roomy saucepan, listening and watching for several minutes until its crackling and bubbling almost cease, indicating 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 yellowish white when cold and congealed, and will keep for months in the refrigerator or freezer.
2. Sautéing: Pat the fish dry. Dust the fillets lightly on each side with salt and pepper. The moment before sautéing, 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. Sauté a minute or two on one side, turn carefully so as not to break the fillet, and sauté 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 sautéing in 2 batches, keep the first warm for the few minutes necessary in a 200 F oven.)
3.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 the fillets – the parsley will bubble up nicely. Decorate with lemon wedges, and serve at once.
*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.