For the past three years, I have always shopped at supermarkets. In the area where I was based, there wasn’t really a nearby opportunity to buy fresh stuff – no butcher, no market, mainly just quick stop stores and superstores. Which was perfectly fine at the time. Standard Friday night dinner was usually pasta, frozen pizza or, my guilty pleasure, canned chicken korma.
Nowadays though, with the lovely kitchen and all, that’s no longer the norm. (Well, I’m not going to lie, there’s nothing wrong with a quick supper every now and then.) But when I can, I prefer spending some quality time in the kitchen, and ever since I did a little discovering in my new area, I’ve had some very pleasant suprises coming my way.
I discovered the six-day fruit and veg market that functions just two tram stops away from me, where I can get a massive bunch of coriander for 50p, or a bunch of asparagus for only a pound, and where they sell things that often I can’t even identify. And just near the market is the local butcher, where a bunch of jolly men, for some reason, tend do give me big smiles every time I walk by; and right next to that, the fishmonger, which is the shop that provided the base for this here blog post.
I bought this beautiful lemon sole for the low price of £5 (would have been more than £10 presumably, had I gone to Waitrose), and they cleaned the skin and removed the head for me. It was fresh, very tender and it deserved good treatment – hence why I decided to cook it as a classic sole meuniere (or almost).
For sole meuniere, one needs:
1 lemon sole (whole in restaurants, filleted otherwise) Lots of butter Flour
Yep, c’est tout. Rachel Khoo had the lovely idea though of adding capers to the sauce, so I got a little jar of that too. This time I also decided to invest in butter that costs a little more than normal (in my defense, it was reduced) because this recipe really deserves it. Here’s what I used:
Basically, the method goes: coat the sole in flour and fry in a pan with oil and butter, about a minute on each side. Now, me being me, I completely forgot the coating part; so I kind of just went with the flow and after more or less successfully deboning my first sole, I fried the fillets.
After frying, wipe out the pan and melt a generous nob or two of butter. This needs to be cooked until it turns nutty brown, then it has to be immediately removed from heat. I was too scared of this, so I don’t think I cooked my butter long enough – but butter is always delicious, no matter what the colour.
Away from the heat, whisk in a couple of table spoons of lemon juice and you are ready to serve! I also added my capers at this point and it made a delicious, savoury and sour sauce that was heavenly with the fish. I served the sole with buttered parsley potatoes (so much butter!) and it certainly made a fantastic dinner.
Despite its big reputation, this dish isn’t super complicated or expensive. Now, of course, I would have loved to fry the fish in whole and then have a French waiter bone it for my whilst I watch and sip my white wine, as they do in France… but if you’re a “servantless American cook” like me (minus the American part), this is a good method too.
Vera Sugár, graduate with a journalism and creative writing degree, started writing at the age of 10. Passionate about literature, arts, history and languages, she speaks fluent English, French and Spanish. Her works are available at http://goodaswinter.wordpress.com.