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Fillets of Sole, The Consomme of Fish

Fillets of Grey sole

Consomme is chicken soup made from chicken stock, clarified with eggs and raw meat and strained and strained again. When done right, it is so clear you can read the date on a quarter coin dropped to the bottom of the soup pot. Years back it was the soup of choice to snatch life back from the unwell. It is light, it is delicious, it stays down while providing comfort and calories to a troubled stomach. It’s the very definition of comfort food.

So too is fillet of sole A delicate small winter flounder of sweet fine flaked white meat that is fragile in the pan and therefore should be prepared quickly but gently over medium heat with butter and fresh lemon. I like to flour the fillets before frying them. Recipes abound, but keep it simple. The sauce pictured here was heated clarified butter, piquant peppers, capers and lemon juice.

Why the analogy to consomme? Fillet of sole more than any other prepared fish seems to melt in the mouth and slide down soft and sweet. It’s comfort food. Also like consomme, it’s a bit out of fashion these days. Consomme is expensive to prepare and is not terribly satisfying to a healthy diner while fillet of grey sole is just plain expensive, about $45 a pound (nine fillets) in Virginia. But you get what you pay for. It’s a great fish. Two fillets are enough if served with a generous side of veggies.

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