You wouldn’t really know it, but I’ve been taking part in the JC100. It’s a celebration of Julia Child where bloggers from all over the world have been cooking her classic and memorable dishes, in honor of what would have been her 100th Birthday. We all get one recipe delivered to us each week, to cook and share. Unfortunately, life has had a funny way of slowing me down lately, so while the JC100 is on week 12, I’m sharing the recipe from week 7.
But I just had to start here.
It’s Sole Muenière that changed the course of Julia’s life (and the history of home cooking). It’s the first meal she ate in France, and it propelled her to want to learn the in’s and out’s of cooking herself. She called it the most exciting meal of her life.
And it’s simple, oh so simple, to make. It’s a true testament that great food doesn’t need to be complicated.
I’ll be honest though. I really dislike fish. All kinds of fish. I haven’t been able to find one dish that I enjoyed eating. I was hoping that this would be the transformative dish in my life too, but it wasn’t (I should probably just accept that for me, it was a cake). Bo is a lover of fish though, and he couldn’t get enough of this. And Oliver, whose always been kind of teetering on the love/hate line. Well, he ate nearly an entire fillet of it. Maybe it was a transformative dish after all.
Let’s get to the recipe! If you’re wondering just what sole muenière is, it’s delicate fillets of sole that have been seasoned and lightly dredged with flour, pan fried in butter, then slicked with butter and fresh lemon juice. It’s a great combination of salty, buttery, tangy greatness.
So, first up, we need to make the clarified butter. So, put your butter in a saucepan.
Melt the butter down, so that you have this. It’s at this stage that you can just scoop up all that foam with a flat spoon and discard it, and then you’ll be left with the clarified butter that’s underneath.
Or you can try the “professional” system of letting all the milky liquid gently boil away.
The problem with the second method is that when you turn away for a minute to prep the fish, you can be left with half of cup of browned butter. Oops.
Take two: scoop off the foam, and I was left with beautiful clarified butter.
See the difference. Don’t be too dismayed, I used that brown butter at the end (I’m a sucker for it’s nutty taste).
It’s good to get some lemon slices ready to go now too.
On to the fish. Dry the fillets well by laying them out on paper towel, and patting dry the tops.
Next up, you need to gently score the “skin side” (the side that used to have skin on it, usually milkier looking). You just barley score it, no more than 1/16th of and inch. Now ‘aint that just pretty looking! This helps stop the fish from curling up while cooking.
Next up we’ve got to flatten the filets out a bit. Lay the flat of your knife on the thickest part of the fillet and give it one swift punch with your fist to flatten it.
Season up both sides with salt and pepper.
Just before you’re about to start frying, lightly dredge the fillets in some flour.
Give your frying pan a film of clarified butter and crank it up over high heat.
When the butter is really hot, but not browning, add as many fillets as fit comfortably, leaving a bit of space between each. Sauté for a minute or two, then flip carefully so you don’t break the fillets.
Here’s the fillet after the flip. Cook on the second side for another minute or two. The fish is done when just springy to the touch (not squishy). Now, set the cooked fillets on a warm plate and sprinkle each with parsley. Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining butter until bubbling. Pour over the fillets.
Yes, I do know how great this looks. I really hate that I just don’t have a taste for fish. I did eat about half of it though (it’s hard to resist butter and salt on anything). Also, note the brown sauce… I told you I’d use that brown butter later on. I didn’t want it to go to waste, and I really liked the bit of nuttiness. When you make it though, I’m sure you won’t make the same mistake that I did, so you’ll have beautiful clarified butter running on your plate.
Ok, even though it’s first thing in the morning, and even though I don’t really LOVE fish, I wouldn’t mind tucking into this right now.
Here’s your printable:
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.