When I asked a couple of French friends if they had any seasonal favorites for the warm weather months the response was that the rich sauces and heavy meats of traditional dishes are most often associated with Winter, and Spring and Summer food consists mostly of salads. What we’d first forgotten, however, was bistro food, and agreed that fresh fish on a sun-filled terrace is pure heaven.
A French bistro classic, sole à la meunière is as simple as it is delicious. My friend Anne-Sophie reassured me that despite the impressive size of the fish, served with head and tail intact, the preparation was a breeze. She was right on and we had quite a lovely Spring meal on our plates at the end of it all.
Here’s the classic bistro recipe we used and some photos of the sole à la meunière cooking process.Sauce: 2 ounces butter 1/2 ounce white wine 1/2 lemon, juiced 1 tablespoon chopped parsley Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a pan large enough for one fish with 1 1/2 ounces of olive oil, heat it until it smokes. In the meantime cover both sides of the sole in the seasoned flour then sauté until it’s golden brown (around two minutes each side). Finish the fish in the oven for 4 minutes.
Sauce: Brown 2 ounces of butter in small fry pan. Add white wine, lemon, parsley, salt and pepper.
It’s really as easy as that, with one catch: deboning the fish. I was lucky enough to have Anne-Sophie to give me a quick tutorial on how to effectively debone a sole, which will certainly save the shame of doing it wrong one day in public. I’ll share with you what she taught me.
First you slice down the natural center until you hit the bone. Next you push away the fins on both sides and nudge the remaining meet away from the center bone being careful not to take the small bones with you. You then turn the fish over and repeat the process on the other side. What you are left with are the delicious pieces of fish you will be eating and a cartoonish fishbone like the one cats eat in alleys with head and tail attached that you will be throwing away.
Et voilà! Bon appétit!