Ever the adventurous one I decided to step a bit out of my wheelhouse the other evening to prepare a special meal for our generous sponsor for this year’s June Jones Foundation dinner. I knew he liked fish and while standing at my fish counter at my local store this one sole just kept popping out at me. The silky white filets with a light, flaky texture no buttery sweet flavor was joining to be the perfect match for a while wine, caper, parsley and butter sauce. Having never cooked sole before I consulted a few of my favorite cookbooks and found an easy preparation for it from chef Rick Moonen, though I only took his advice – which was to coat the fish in a bit of flower before sautéing it in a butter filled pan. I did half this way and half in a slightly healthier version without the flour and using stock and a tiny touch of butter. The sauce is so rich and though the fish is flaky, it can stand on its own without flouting it first, but the floured version does add a light, crispy texture. Serve with a crisp, slightly lees aged (leaving the wine on the yeasts for a period of time to add weight and texture) Sauvignon Blanc like Coquerel Terroir Sauv Blanc, Ladera Napa Valley, or Conspire from Amy Aiken.
Sauted Sole with White Wine, Capers, Parsley and Butter
Ingredients: (for 4 guests)
12 filets or about a pound and a quarter fresh sole filets, skin removed and cleaned
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour (if dusting prior to sauteing)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup white wine
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons, zest of 1
1/2 lemon sliced thin disks
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
Pre-heat the oven to a very low 200 degrees. Season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Lightly dust each filet in flour, if using, by dropping the fish into the flour and coating eat side, then brushing the excess off. I would coat each piece and lay them on a parchment lined or paper-towel lined baking sheet before you start to cook the fish. To cook the fish add the half the oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a hot pan, let the butter melt and meld with the oil then working quickly in batches lay 4 filets of fish in the pan, cooking on one side until brown then carefully flipping and cooking the other side until brown. Shouldn’t take more than about 4-5 minutes total, then carefully remove from the pan and lay on the the paper-towel lined baking sheet to absorb any excess liquid. Repeat with 4 more, then 4 more, then 4 more filets, adding in an extra tablespoons of butter and remaining oil after you have cooked 8 filets and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Sprinkle lightly with additional salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice from 1/2 lemon. Place the cooked fish on the sheet tray in the low oven to keep warm as you make the sauce.
To make the sauce add the white wine to the pan you cooked the fish in over medium-high heat with the shallot, garlic, red pepper flake, zest and remaining lemon juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low stirring in the capers, lemon slivers and herbs. Sprinkle in a dash of salt and pepper, but the capers are rather briny so not too much salt. Stir to combine, letting the liquid reduce by 1/3. Then stir in the remaining butter. When the butter has melted and the sauce has come together remove the fish from the oven, plating a few filets on each plate, adding a heaping spoonful of sauce to each plate. We served the fish on its own, serving lightly grilled asparagus and saffron rice on the side, family style so the fish was the main star of the plate when we served it.