Degree of difficulty: medium
Time: traveling to the seafood market is the most time-consuming part...prep 10 minutes, cook time 5 minutes total
Serves: 1 (Mike doesn't eat fish, so this is a solo entree. But there's usually a bit left over for a raid-the-refrigerator snack. He's always teasing me about my extravagant plating--the garnish, the accompaniments--for one, namely, me. Hey, nothing wrong with that. At all.)
Italians and the French have cornered the market on this dish.
I ordered it constantly when Mike and I would dine out in Manhattan, in Paris, where it came whole (yikes, I'm not so good at de-boning tableside), and in Italy, where the Nona in the kitchen made it explode with flavor by adding a sprinkle of capers while the sauce was reducing and a squeeze of lemon just before serving.
While my at-home version is quite decent, there's something about those restaurant pans and a quick sizzle in loads of butter that yield heavenly results. It's a recipe worth repeating--and varying. Leave out the almonds and add a handful of fresh, diced tomatoes, maybe some basil, or go Mediterranean and throw in some diced pitted black olives with the tomato.
Over time I've experimented by adding a couple of frozen homemade chicken stock cubes to the wine and butter and cooking it down a bit. It gives good flavor, so you use a little less of that naughty butter.
1/2 pound fresh fillet of sole
3 to 4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup (or less) flour
1/4 cup raw whole almonds, chopped
4 sprigs parsley--2 minced, 2 for garnish
3 frozen cubes chicken stock, optional
1 tablespoon capers, optional
Rinse off the fillets, shake dry. Take a smidge of the butter and brown the chopped almonds in it.
Remove from pan, set aside. Melt the remainder of the butter in the pan. Dust the fillets in the flour, and place in the sizzling butter. Brown. (This is the tricky part. You want the fish nicely browned, but not cooked to the point of mushy.)
Remove fillets to a warm plate.
Add wine and chicken stock cubes, if using, to the pan. Reduce by about 1/3. Add some of the lemon juice, and taste the sauce. Add more lemon if needed, and capers if using (or tomato and basil etc.). Reduce for 1 minute. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning (may need a dash of salt or more lemon).
Add minced parsley, stir and pour over the fillets. Sprinkle with chopped almonds. Serve immediately.
Suggested soundtrack: Chopin's "Nocturne in B-flat Minor," Op. 9, No.1. (The guys will recognize this as one of Mom's favorites to play on the piano--they've heard it a million times. Still in my Top Ten.)