This week’s recipe is one that those of us familiar with Julia Child’s life have been waiting for: Filets of Sole Meuniere, Julia’s first-ever meal in France, from The Way to Cook. In My Life in France, Julia described the sole as “a morsel of perfection” and “the most exciting meal” of her life. It was this simple preparation of sole that inspired Julia’s 40-year love affair with food and the start of a cooking revolution in America.
It’s quite amazing I managed to make this and post about it this week – given I only received the recipe late Monday. It’s the final days of school, I am headed to Puebla today with the Mexico Tourism Board and then have two days once I get back before I leave for France for the summer. Plus, I am not much of a fish eater but I couldn’t NOT make this, Julia’s epiphany of a dish.
In actual fact, I used tilapia, not sole because that’s what was in the store where I was yesterday. With no time to shop around for sole, I took what I could get. I cut the tilapia fillets into small pieces and amidst my frenetic packing, cleaning and generally getting organised, I ate two of the smaller fillets for a quick dinner on a hot evening. It was perfect. Subtle. Simple. Tasty. So few ingredients. So easy. So good.
- 6 skinless and boneless sole or other thin fish fillets, all of a size 4 to 6 oz each and 2/8 inch thick
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- ½ cup or so flour in a plate
- About 4 tablespoons clarified butter
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 4 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Dry the fish, remove any bones, score, trim and flatten it. Lay it out on a sheet of wax paper.
- Dust the fillets lightly on each side with salt and pepper. The moment before sautéing, rapidly drip each into the flour to coat both sides, and shake off the excess.
- Set a heavy non-stick frying pan over a high heat and film with 1/16 inch of the clarified butter. When the butter is very hot but not browning, rapidly lay in as many fillets as will fit easily, leaving a little space between each.
- Sauté a minute or two on one side, turn carefully so as not to break the fillet, and sauté a minute or two on the other side.
- The fish is done when just springy rather than squashy to the touch of your finger.
- Immediately remove from pan to warm plates or a platter.
- Sprinkle each fillet with parsley.
- Wipe the frying pan clean, set over high heat, and add the fresh butter; heat until bubbling and pour over the fillets – the parsley will bubble up nicely.
- Decorate with lemon wedges and serve at once.
Would I make this again? Absolutely. Even for a non-fish lover like myself, it was a hit. I *get* where Julia saw the excitement in this. Simple ingredients. Complex flavours. (and yes, Mr Neil, there are leftovers for your lunches!)
* Culinary icon Julia Child would have turned 100 years old on August 15th of this year. To honor her, the folks at YC Media and Random House/ Alfred A. Knopf are launching the JC100: an international campaign involving restaurants, chefs, bookstores, and bloggers, all celebrating Julia and her legacy. Their goal is to raise one million voices in tribute to Julia, and I am honoured to participate!
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