Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sole that's good for the Soul

It was one of those Sundays that seem mellow and gentle, letting you drift through the day without thinking of the workweek. His Froginess and I spent a lovely day together just "being". It culminated in pumpkin-carving for Halloween, a nice dinner and "Rome" on HBO.

While I prepped for dinner, His Froginess cut the designs in the pumpkins we talked about earlier. We had a whole family: Papa Scary, Mama Happy, and Baby Sad. Simple designs but then H.F. has not had the years of experience carving that many North Americans have had. Being French, the whole Halloween thing was a little vague to him and he never really experienced it until he got here (Canada). As he is a big D&D/role-playing fan, the concept of dressing up and being someone different for the night is appealing to him. I think it is fast starting to be his favourite holiday. He takes great pride in carving pumpkins now. It's rather cute to see how enthused he gets.

While he scooped and cut, I created my first sole dish with some of the sole Beloved Friend bought for us in Port Hardy. Fishing village that this is, it's crazy how you can't always get fish at the store.

Anyways, I'd not only never cooked sole before but never anticipated what an art it is to cook it. I'll know better now how carefully to flip the fish and how delicately to get it out of the pan. My first attempts broke. Disappointing for the visuals I was going for but not like I destroyed the taste at least.

I created a French dish with the sole, as per the request of H.F. We had Sole with Lemon-Caper Brown Butter Sauce, boiled potatoes, and steamed zucchini ribbons. H.F. was very flattering when he said the food was good enough for a 2 star restaurant in France. I'd be glad for any star in France. The picture is not exactly top level food porn but it gives an idea. Hopefully my ability to present food on the plates will improve with time.

Here is the basic recipe for the Sole:

Petrale Sole with Lemon-Caper Brown Butter Sauce

* 8 pieces of Petrale sole
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 6 tablespoons olive oil
* Juice from 2 lemons
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 2 tablespoons capers (optional)
* Lemon wedges for garnish

1. Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the fish with salt and a little finely ground black pepper.

2. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium high heat. Add the olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When oil is slightly smoking, add the fish to the pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side, until fish is brown and crispy. Turn the fish over with a spatula and cook another 2 minutes on the other side.

3. Pour lemon juice over the fish and remove from pan. Set aside. Add butter and capers to hot pan. Swirl butter until melted, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan. Without overheating the butter, let the butter develop a light brown coloring to it. Remove from heat and spoon butter sauce and capers over the fish and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Serves: 4

The recipe I worked from suggested pairing it with a riesling but H.F. and I drank ice cold Oceanspray white cranberry juice with it and it went quite well with it. It wasn't too overwhelming and it gently washed the tongue in its acid, getting you ready for more buttery fish and starchy potatoes.

A suggestion for this recipe: Don't use so much oil. I had to get rid of a lot of the oil. Sole is delicate and needs very little cooking. Trying to fry it as they suggest will only increased the fall apart issues.

[addendum Nov 2. : I have since learned that just recently a shipment of sole came north to our little backwater. It seems it was SENT BACK!!! because it wasn't ordered. Both myself and the informer were highly indignant that such a prize escaped our clutches. I start to wonder what other little treasures were lost to our town because of that mentality!]

1 comment:

Benoist said...

That's right. I love Halloween for the people dressing up, the kids roaming the streets and the whole idea of "sticking it to Death" for one night. I find it light-hearted and very fun.

This whole Sunday was a great day. I like the way you used the expression of "just being". I think that's what it was, and it felt good, particularly being with you.

The sole was the cherry on the cake, I must say. It was absolutely delicious. Goes very well with capers, which supresized me somewhat, since the capers' taste could have overshadowed the sole's in my mind. I was wrong though. I absolutely loved the zucchini ribbons. Definitely a nice touch for this meal, since it isn't especially strong in taste but yet refreshing in its contrast with the butter. Great dish!