recipe: fish meuniere
A viewing of “Julie & Julia” had me salivating for butter and, well . . . butter. I doubt that I will ever master the art of French cooking (I’ve never even had authentic French food, for crying out loud), but holy cow! I was inspired.
The other week, I made a trip to Central Market and picked up some goodies that I can’t usually get at the local grocery store. One of my “splurges” was fresh tilapia. When I got home, I didn’t really think about how else I would cook the fish because I usually would just bake them. However, I was reminded of “Julie & Julia” and the inspiration came back to me. My dilemma? I know nothing about French cooking. I would have to think of something else.
Thankfully, I’ve accumulated quite an arsenal of cookbooks to guide me in my culinary adventures (such as the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, Cooking Light’s 2009 Annual Recipes) so I pulled one out. Specifically, The New Best Recipe by Cook’s Illustrated. I scoured the pages for a fish recipe, and lo and behold! I found one for Fish Meuniere (Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking has “sole meuniere”) and I was way excited.
My husband and I ate the buttery results and we were amazed at how fantastic the tilapia tasted. Probably the best fish I’ve ever cooked (a claim my husband sincerely made). Now, seeing as how much butter there was in it, we won’t eat it too often but it’ll make an appearance here and there as a nice treat.
Fish Meuniere with Browned Butter and Lemon (from Cook’s Illustrated, serves 4)
see note at the bottom*
Ingredients (for the FISH)
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 sole or flounder fillets (5 to 6 ounces each and 3/8 inch thick), patted dry with paper towels
- salt and ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
Ingredients (for the BROWNED BUTTER)
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 tbsp juice from 1 lemon
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
1. FOR THE FISH: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, set 4 heatproof dinner plates on the rack, and heat the oven to 200 degrees. PLace the flour in a large baking dish. Season both sides of each fillet generously with salt and pepper; let stand until the fillets are glistening with moisture, about 5 minutes. Coat both sides of the fillets with flour, shake off the excess, and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until shimmering; add 1 tbsp of the butter and swirl to coat the pan bottom. When the foaming subsides, carefully place 2 fillets skin-side up in the skillet. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, without moving the fish, until the edges of the fillets are opaque and the bottom is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using 2 spatulas, gently flip the fillets and cook on the second side until the thickest part of the fillet easily separates into flakes when a toothpick is inserted, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer the fillets, one to each heated dinner plate, keeping them bone-side up, and return the plates to the oven. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining 1 tbsp each oil and butter and the remaining fish fillets.
2. FOR THE BROWNED BUTTER: Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling the pan constantly, until the butter is golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes; remove the skillet from the heat. Remove the plates from the oven and sprinkle the fillets with the parsley. Add the lemon juice to the browned butter and season to taste with salt; spoon the sauce over the fish and serve immediately with the lemon wedges.
*(Since I only had 3 fillets – and I used tilapia, not sole or flounder – I changed the ingredients slightly but followed the recipe closely. Also, I used extra-virgin olive oil and dried parsley.)