Friday, November 05, 2004

Recipe: Sautéed Filet of Sole

Whether for a traditional Friday night supper, or a light meal anytime, sautéed filet of sole (or whatever kind of fish your local fishmonger calls 'sole') is simple and delicious.

In the U.S. true 'Dover sole' is very hard to come by and very expensive, so most of the time, you'll end up with Flounder. But don't knock flounder. It's a wonderful, delicate white fish that lends itself to poaching, baking, or, as here, sautéing. We like to serve it with Cathy's mashed potatoes, sexy peas, and a salad.

The serving size here is limited by the diameter of your skillet. The filets must fit easily, without crowding or touching each other in the pan. Otherwise, they'll fall apart when you try to turn them. And like most fish dishes, these need to be eaten as soon as they come out of the pan. Yes, it's possible to keep one batch warm in the oven while you do a second batch; but only if you're fast. After even 10 minutes in the oven (at 200º F), well, you might as well have gone out for McSea burgers.

here's what you'll need . . .

filet of sole (1/4 to 1/3 lb. per person)
bread crumbs
olive oil

Here's how you do it.
If you keep your eggs in the refrigerator, get one or two out at least two hours before preparing dinner. Eggs need to be at room temperature to make a good dipping mixture (or for almost any other use, as well).

About 20 -30 minutes before you want to start cooking, get the fish out of the refrigerator and wash it gently under cold running water. Drain the water off each piece and place them all in a shallow bowl. Pour some milk over the filets (just enough to barely cover them - the milk will be discarded, so there's no point in wasting any). Let the fish soak while you get everything else ready – about 10 - 15 minutes.

Soak your sole

Spread out a couple of pieces of wax paper. Put flour on one piece, breadcrumbs on the other.

Sole coatings

Gently blend an egg with a Tbsp. of cold water until you've got a nice golden egg wash (no froth, please).

Sole egg wash

Now grab a filet from the milk, very gently 'squeegee' off any extra milk (hold the filet at one end and wipe it down between your index and middle fingers.)

Sole wipe milk

Dredge the filet in the flour, coating thoroughly on both sides. (Use the wax paper - lift one side, then the other to shake flour onto the filet. Pat gently, turn over and do the same on the other side.) Set aside each filet until you have them all floured. Try to not let them touch each other.

Sole dredge flour
Sole dredge flour 1

Now, put a large skillet on to heat up (somewhere just above medium).

Next, dip a floured filet into the egg wash (again, holding at one end, kind of drag it through on one side, then the other) until thoroughly coated.

Sole dip in egg wash
Sole dip in egg wash 2

Drain the excess egg off for a few seconds (no squeegee here),

Sole dip in egg wash 3

and then dredge the filet in the breadcrumbs (use the wax paper, as before). Set aside (separated, as before) until you have them all breaded.

Sole dredge in crumbs
Sole dredged

Pour a couple Tbsp. of olive oil into the hot skillet, swirl till it reaches fragrance, and gently place the filets in the pan (separated, as always). Immediately reduce the heat to something just under medium, count to 87 and then give the skillet a gentle shake or three to make sure the filets are not sticking to the bottom. Cook for about 2 minutes (or maybe 4, depends on your stove, pan, and preferences). The idea is to get the bottom side a 'crispy' light golden brown (the color of a perfect pancake).

Sole in skillet

Using a long bladed spatula (long enough to hold at least ¾ the length of a filet) underneath, and another spatula (long if you've got it, but 'normal' is ok for the top one), gently turn each filet.

Sole turn 1
Sole turn 2
Sole turn 3
Sole turn 4

When you've got them all turned over, squeeze the juice from ½ a lemon all over the tops of the filets. Don't 'squirt' it, you'll just dig holes in the breading; instead, dribble it, moving your arm in a circular motion around and around over the skillet. If you wish, grind some black pepper over the now slightly dampened filets. Cook till done, probably another 2 to 4 minutes.

Serve and eat immediately.

Sole served


  1. Anonymous11:44 PM

    This is a fantastic meal! I've had it and it tastes as good as it looks on this blog....thanks TommyJ for the great and quick fish meal!!

  2. Anonymous8:53 PM

    My son who is the world's pickiest eater looked at the recipe being made on the net and when I made it he said "welllll, I might try a bit". He ate a whole huge filet. This recipe was delicious. Thanks for sharring

  3. Anonymous2:01 AM

    Deeeeelicous! This was a four-out-of-four smiley face recipe at my house, and thank you for the helpful coating techniques and pics. Best coatings I've ever made. Thank you for your willingness to share.

  4. Anonymous11:42 PM

    This was delicious! The whole family liked it (including 1 and 3 year old boys). We served it will kale chips and white & wild rice. A hit!

  5. Anonymous10:55 PM

    Wow! Really good! Will definitely do again.