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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Improving Sole Meuniere with salty buttermilk brine

By SARA MOULTON
The Associated Press

Julia Child was able to remember the single most decisive moment in her life with photographic clarity. It was her first bite of her first meal in France, a fish dish called sole Meuniere. That first forkful, she wrote, was "a morsel of perfection," and it set her on the path to become the Julia we'd come to know and love.

Though it is indeed a classic of French cuisine, sole Meuniere - a filet of fish dipped in flour, then sauteed in butter - isn't terribly complicated. But it's one of those dishes that really benefits from attention to detail. And in the interest of improving on "perfection," I've added a few new details. ...

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Julia Child was able to remember the single most decisive moment in her life with photographic clarity. It was her first bite of her first meal in France, a fish dish called sole Meuniere. That first forkful, she wrote, was "a morsel of perfection," and it set her on the path to become the Julia we'd come to know and love.

Though it is indeed a classic of French cuisine, sole Meuniere - a filet of fish dipped in flour, then sauteed in butter - isn't terribly complicated. But it's one of those dishes that really benefits from attention to detail. And in the interest of improving on "perfection," I've added a few new details.

Let's start with the fish. Julia was served Dover sole. Thick, firm and delicious, Dover sole is widely available in Europe, but not in the United States. In fact, much of the "sole" sold on these shores isn't sole at all, but a kind of flounder - and much of that is endangered from overfishing and should be avoided. So opt for Pacific flounder or Pacific sole, or just reach for any firm-fleshed white fish that is not endangered (visit www.seafoodwatch.org).

Still, most white fish, even Dover sole, is a tad bland. Accordingly, sole Meuniere is always finished with a little pick-me-up of lemon and salt. This recipe starts with acid and salt in the form of a salty buttermilk brine, which deeply pre-seasons the fish.

Typically, sole Meuniere calls for all-purpose flour, but if you can find "instantized" flour, aka Wondra, grab it. The fish is crispier when it's coated with Wondra. Two important final notes: Wait until the pan is almost smoking before adding the fish, and don't flour the fish until the last minute, which will prevent it from becoming gummy.

Given that we've added capers and lemon slices to this version, it's more properly called Sole Grenobloise than Sole Meuniere. Whatever, it's delish.

SOLE MEUNIERE:
IMPROVING ON
PERFECTION

Start to finish: 30 minutes, plus 1-3 hours marinating time. Servings: 4.

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. kosher salt

1¼ -1½ lbs. firm white fish
fillets

1 small lemon

3-4 Tbsp. vegetable oil

½ cup instantized flour

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut
into several pieces

1 Tbsp. drained capers

Chopped fresh parsley for
garnish

In a resealable plastic bag, combine buttermilk and salt; stir with a small whisk or fork until salt is dissolved. Add fish fillets, making sure they are coated with buttermilk; seal bag and place it in refrigerator. Let fish marinate at least one hour, preferably 3 hours.

While fish is marinating, cut off the top and bottom of the lemon. Place on cutting board cut-side down. Starting at the top, following the curve of the lemon, cut off rind and pith. Working over a small bowl to catch any juice, cut between membranes to separate lemon into segments. Reserve segments and juice.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat half the oil over medium-high heat.

Remove half the fish from buttermilk, letting excess drip off; dip in flour, coating all sides and shaking off excess. Add to pan and cook it until golden on both sides and just cooked through, about 3 minutes total. Transfer fish to a platter and cover loosely with foil. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and fish. Discard any oil left in pan.

Add butter, capers and a hefty pinch of salt to skillet; cook over medium heat, swirling butter, until golden. Add lemon segments and cook, 2-3 minutes. Pour sauce over fish, sprinkle with parsley and eat right away.

Nutrition information per serving: 382 calories; 195 calories from fat; 22 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 126 mg cholesterol; 651 mg sodium; 10 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 35 g protein.