Monday, 21 May 2012

Sole Not Meuniere

Well don't I feel like the horse's ass. I have spent my whole life lecturing my daughters on the importance of having a well stocked pantry. And I have actually told them that only a common fool would be caught without a fresh lemon in their fridge. So tonight I set about making a rice pilaf and Sole Meuniere. Except I discovered too late that I didn't have a lemon! Ugh! So embarrassed and of course, ashamed of myself!
My sole was already dredging itself in the seasoned flour, and the pilaf was 5 minutes away from perfect. So I had to make a quick decision - use the bottled lemon juice (shame on me!) or think fast on my feet and use the two limes I had on hand. Since I got my first (small!) tattoo this weekend, I decided to think young and hip and do the sexy thing with my sole. I went with the limes. And not to dis the old school French cuisine recipe of classic Sole Meuniere, I think I can give them a run for their money with what I came up with.
I melted about 1/3 cup of butter in the skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil. And to this I added the grated zest of 2 limes. Since I had some fresh ginger and that marries perfectly with lime, I added a tablespoon of it grated into the butter and oil. Now that I was on a roll, I gave a squirt of a couple of tablespoons of sweet chili sauce into the mix. My sole was dredged in flour season with salt and pepper. When the fry pan was sizzling with happiness, I put the filets in and fried them for about 3 minutes on each side until they were golden and crispy. Then I added the juice of one of the limes to the mix. And I topped them with chopped, fresh cilantro and the rest of the lime juice when I served them. The meal was just delicious! I was not the least bit ashamed of it and I think I'll call it Tattoo Sole from now on!
If you wanted to do a classic, French style Sole Meuniere, you would of course need a lemon. Still dredge your sole in the seasoned flour. Still melt the butter and the olive oil but add the zest of your lemon and the juice of half of it. Fry it exactly the same and to serve it, squeeze the rest of the lemon juice on it and top it with chopped parsley. It's very delicious and classic. It seems boring in comparison to my invented recipe, but it's not. It's been around for a hundred years for a good reason. It's awesome. So much so in fact, that I think I may force my daughters to name my grandchildren Parsley and Cilantro and Lemon and Lime. Much in the style of Gwyneth Paltrow with Apple. Not! At least give a child a running chance out of the gate!
Rice Pilaf is such a fresh and delicious side with any kind of fish, that I think I'll share that with you now too. Don't fence yourself in with the vegetables. I use whatever I have in the fridge that I want to use up. The secret is to use long grain par boiled rice. I buy it by the forty pound bag. For the love of God don't use that 5 minute rice by Uncle Ben. Don't buy it ever. I couldn't be more serious about this. Melt about 1/4 cup of butter in your saucepan. (Make sure it has a tight fitting lid). Saute about 1/2 cup each of whatever vegetables you're using. Tonight I used celery, red pepper and green onion. But you can use carrots, onions, green pepper or just whatever you like or have around. Be sure to chop them very small since you don't want chunks and this isn't a stew. Add 1 measured cup of rice and let it toast around with the veg for a minute or two. Then add 2 cups of chicken broth and bring it up to a boil. Immediately cover it and reduce the heat to a simmer and let it simmer for 25 minutes. Lift the lid really fast and have a quick peak at it. If the liquid is almost gone, turn off the heat, stir it and put the lid back on. Now fry the fish. Don't worry, the rice will stay plenty hot to serve. You can season the rice with salt and pepper if you like, but I never do because I love the flavours to just jump out on their own. The secret is to make sure the rice is just simmering but the heat is not so hot that your liquid will boil out before the rice is cooked. It takes a bit of practice. But less heat is better than too much. Always start your fish when the rice is pretty much done. This is a very easy and fast dinner to prepare and cook but it speaks volumes in flavour. It can be a quick middle of the week dinner, or an elegant dinner for company coming too! Enjoy!

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