Working with Dover sole as a whole fish needs an experienced hand. But an excellent substitute is below. People don’t talk much about meunière, but it is truly one of the most exotic plain but delicious dishes, maybe topped with a few microgreens on the plate. It is served around the world in best restaurants at sometimes outrageously high prices and not nearly enough pieces, right up there with roasted marrow bone prices, said in restaurant reviews to sell for as much as $600 per plate.
When plated and served in such an environment, you are paying for the benefit of enjoying your meunière plate served on a white linen tablecloth and upscale cutlery, on perhaps special high-end china. The price is reflected in the environment. Made at home, even eaten standing at the counter, dinner for one, the meunière is still fit for royalty.
Note: The photo on this article shows all the things you should not do when sautéing sole fillets, as noted in the recipe.
I try to avoid using flour where possible; for example in my soups. I use thickened half and half cream, reduced.
But on occasion only flour will do such as when making Dover sole meunière or even sole fillets meunière. I’m thinking one day I’ll use semolina as a substitute, or even add shredded coconut. Maybe even almond flour since almonds and fish appreciate each other.
For six medium-size frozen-at-source fillets, straight from the freezer, I use a whole stick of unsalted butter eased into a beurre noisette in a wide sauté pan with low sides. You don’t want the fish to steam. Keep the shallow sauté pan on medium-high heat. Try to avoid the fillet pieces touching one another.
On a large platter I put two whole cups of plain all-purpose flour; no seasoning. You will toss the remainder flour after you coat both sides of each frozen sole piece, using tongs. Do not save the flour for use on another day.
Yes, frozen. We live inland from the Atlantic Ocean and the unfrozen sole at the fish market turns to mush, even though they call it fresh. Avoid. I find it impossible to work with. The frozen fillets work fine. Do not defrost. Let the still-frozen sole pieces rest briefly in the flour, turning once. Stack the dredged fillets on a working plate. Only flour the fillets immediately before ready to sauté. To help keep counter mess at a minimum, spread out an extra-large clean tea towel you can shake free of flour flitters, or use layers of paper towel. Work carefully and gently.
Only salt and pepper once the fish is golden in the hot noisette. If too much fish is added to the pan, it will drop the temperature of the butter. Keep it hot. Watch carefully for about three minutes for cooking the first side, not touching the fish. Don’t leave the stove. Adjust heat so the dark brown noisette doesn’t burn.
Using a fish flipper spatula or a thin malleable egg turner, carefully turn the floured fish only once as it starts to brown. The flour develops a wonderful nutty taste coating. Salt and pepper generously the first cooked side. When you flip, salt and pepper the other side generously. Keep the heat on medium high. The fillets cook very fast.
Turn off the heat. Remove the flakey fish from the sauté pan. Do not let the fish sit in the noisette. It has done its job. You might have to use two large sauté pans or make a couple of separate units depending on how many fillets you are preparing. Tent the ready-to-eat fish while you sauté additional fillets.
Spritz the delicate browned fish coating with just a little fresh-squeezed lemon juice.
Dust with just a pinch of lemon fragrant sumac if you have it. Serve on a hot plate. While hot, scatter with Amagansett Sea Salt finishing salt flakes that melt in your mouth, over the fish on a serving platter.
I enjoy this meunière sole so much. Even with floured coating and what seems like excessive butter, it is a wonderfully light treat, yet sufficiently filling, so much so that I don’t even need a side with it. I don’t want to diminish the remarkable natural flavour. Such a special treat, easy to make even if you live alone. Takes no time to prepare and nets a simple clean-up.
But my delicious plantain crackers tipped with a medium-large, ready-to-eat shrimp would work well alongside for a heavier meal. Maybe dipped in my unusual tzatziki.
I often prepare the frozen sole fillets by dusting in flour, dipping in whisked egg and then in light fresh coarse homemade breadcrumbs. But of course that’s not meunière. (Sorry. Store-bought crumbs don’t work well here. They are too granular.)
Pan-fried in just a little unsalted butter, the breaded fillets are very tasty, quick and easy to make in volume. Sometimes I add herbs and spices to the flour. Rosemary works nicely. Fresh is ideal but dried will work. Its unique flavour marries nicely with the breaded fish.
If serving as a larger but still light meal, you might like to add a cool panna cotta for dessert. Or even as a starter course.
A tall cool wine glass of Black Tower or Two Oceans pairs nicely.
Homemade cooked mustard sauce
Some people enjoy a little mustard on the side in a separate little tasting dish. Maybe try my own homemade mustard sauce. I remember my mother made this to serve with pink Atlantic salmon.
In a non-aluminum saucepan, whisk six egg yolks. You might choose to use a glass double boiler. (Save the whites to make really easy wonderful nougat, or even my bird’s nest pavlova.)
Gradually add three-quarters cup of white sugar and stir over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Stir in a quarter cup of dry mustard powder. Add a full cup of plain white vinegar. Stir to blend well. (Your nostrils will clear.) Reduce on medium heat.
Flutter a little Amagansett Sea Salt finishing flakes as the sauce cools to room temperature.
You can use this tasty sauce warm, cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Instead of vinegar you could add dry vermouth or even cognac for a most spectacular real mustard sauce. You might even want to add a tiny drizzle of your favourite liquid honey.
Store refrigerated only in a glass jar. It’s a perfect mustard sauce to serve on ham, salmon, even on sandwiches (especially thin slices of roast beef). Maybe on meatballs or meatloaf.
Add a few tablespoons of this mustard sauce to your homemade, always-at-the-ready thick mayonnaise to create a personalized Dijonnaise. You could add a few crushed capers. How about adding to your Caesar salad?
It’s interesting served on my french-cut green beans. Maybe add a little mustard sauce to my cream sauce kohlrabi or even creamed Belgian white endive. (Of course with nutmeg.)
© Lady Ralston’s Canadian Contessa Kitchen gets Saucy ~ Sauces, Aolies, Dressings, Drizzles, Drops, and Puddles
The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen” additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.