The Sole Meuniere is the French recipe I remember most in my childhood. This simple recipe is a wonderful way to introduce fish into your kid’s diet! Sole Meuniere is also rich in history: its origin is dated at least at the time of King Louis XIV, and likely more ancient! The sole is floured then pan-fried into butter flavored with lemon, then garnished with fresh parsley and pepper: delicious!
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ORIGIN OF SOLE MEUNIERE
Into the French cuisine, the sole is probably the king of fishes. Indeed, this fish is the protagonist of the preferred dish of King Louis XIV: the Sole Meuniere!
The term Meuniere means Miller, and recalls the flour used to coat the Sole before frying. It is one of the most iconic French recipes. As I said it has been well known and appreciated since the time of “Le Roi Soleil”.
The popularity of this recipe, particularly in the United States has been facilitated by the Chef and TV personality Julia Child. In her book of memories “My Life in France”, Julia describes her first Sole Meuniere at the Restaurant La Couronne, in Rouen:
“Perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top. I lifted a forkful of fish to my mouth, took a bite, and chewed slowly. The flesh of the sole was delicate, with a light but distinct taste of the ocean that blended marvelously with the browned butter. It was a morsel of perfection.”
TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
CHOOSING THE FISH – Following the tradition, you need a true Dover Sole imported from Europe: the meat of this variety is firmer with a more intense taste. Alternatively, use flounder fillets.
SOLE: WHOLE OR FILLETS? – This is a personal choice. Likely, in origin, the sole had been fried whole then fillet before serving. Nowadays, the majority of chefs prefer to fillet the fish before frying. Personally, I prefer to cook the fillets: in this way the crust is more persistent and present in both sides.
THE BUTTER – The authentic Sole Meuniere requires “Noisette” butter. It’s butter lightly browned before frying the sole.
THE PAN – To obtain a perfect Sole Meuniere crust, you want to fry the fillets well separated, not overlapped.
CRUST – The Sole Meuniere requires a thin and light crust to protect the juicy meat of this fish. Once floured, you want to fry the fillets within 5 minutes.
LEMON – Traditionally the lemon juice is added into the butter at the very end, then the fillets are garnished with the flavored butter. I prefer to add the lemon slices into the butter before frying the fish. In this way, the sole will be well flavored, even if you prefer to avoid to garnish with the butter and serve a lighter dish.
SIDE PAIRINGS –The Sole Meuniere is traditionally paired with boiled potatoes salad, roasted potatoes, sauteed green beans, sauteed mushrooms, or green salad.
SOLE MEUNIERE RECIPE
- 2 Dover sole fillets (alternatively, grey sole or flounder)
- 1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley
- 1/2 organic lemon
- 8 tbsp (110 g) butter
- 1 dash black pepper
- to taste table salt
- LEMON AND BUTTER
First, rinse the lemon thoroughly, then reduce half of the lemon into slices. After that, choose a pan big enough to fry the sole fillets without overlapping them. At this point, place the pan over medium heat. Once the pan becomes warm, pour the butter and melt it until become fluffy and lightly brown. At this point add the lemon slices and sauté 5 minutes, squeezing gently with a fork. Finally, place the pan far from the heat.
- FISH AND FLOUR
Now, pour the flour on a tray, then flour the fillet on both sides patting them to discard the excess of powder. You want a thin and uniform coat of flour on the entire surface of the fish.
- FRYING THE SOLE
At this point, place the pan with the butter on medium heat. Once hot, pan-fry the sole fillets, a couple of minutes per side.
- GARNISH AND SERVING
Once ready, place the fish on the plates. Then add minced parsley and a few tbsp of cooking butter. Finally, salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
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