Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chef in Venice # 6 - Sole meuniere

It just wouldn't seem right leaving Venice without having eaten sole. There are indeed so many fish dishes you can make, but sometimes, if you have quality ingredients less is best.

If you have a grill pan, or contact grill/ indoor barbecue like the one shown previously, you can grill them, using my flour tip. Or you can cook them meunière style.

The fishmongers will often fillet them for you, but cooking whole on the bone will give you a much softer, moister favour. Although you can remove the skin, I like to leave it on - the skin of the sole, like chicken, is the tastiest part.

This is how to cook your sole:


1 - Firstly you need to scale them. Use the tip of a filleting knife and go against the grain of the scales.
If you leave the scales on, these can stick to the pan, so when you try and turn them the skin rips.

2 - Take the roe out. This can be done leaving the head on (some people like to eat the heads too). Make a slit by the gills and you can pull out the roe.
.... or you can cut the head off and remove the roe, dropping the fish head into your fish stock.
3 - Then wash and dry them and coat them in seasoned flour or polenta. As described earlier this stops them sticking to the pan.

4 - Add a little oil to you pan first, and then butter. The oil increases the temperature at which the butter will burn - as sole take a good 15 - 20 minutes to cook the butter may burn before they are cooked. Medium heat is best for this - too high and they will be cooked on the outside while being raw in the middle. Aways cook the presentation (white) side first, so that side cooks in a clean pan.

5 - An easy way to tell when your sole is ready to turn is that it is opaque (i.e. cooked) from the base to the middle bone. A minute or two before turning, I add a little more butter, so they brown well. Turn with a roasting fork skewered through top end (spatualas can damage/ break up the fish, which you don't want to do with the presentation side).
[sole finishing cooking once turned]

6 - You know when your sole is cooked when it starts to split slightly at the top:
7 - You can then use a spatula to take it out on to a clean board for filletting. This is the difference to some local restaurants who serve them whole, leaving you with a plate of bones at the end, another reason why I prefer cooking my own (another being you can choose a much larger sole on the market than a restaurant will serve).

8 - Sauce meunière - Strain the remaing pan juices in to a small pan. You should have a beurre noisette by now. When hot add lemon juice and chopped parsley. It is now ready.

9 - Filletting you sole - I clamp the knife down on the side bones and ease them away, taking care to keep the skin in one piece. Then run the knife latterally through middle, on top of the bone. You can then remove the top two fillets (in one piece) using the knife as a palette knife, and put them to one side.
Then remove the bones in one piece - add them to your fish stock pot. Slide the top two fillets back on top, and you have a finished sole as shown at the top, there served on top of crushed potato and sautéed pak choi. Spoon your meunière butter over the sole.

For more dishes from Venice see here: http://www.thecotswoldfoodyear.com/search/label/venice

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