Saturday, 8 March 2008

Trade your Soul for Sole?

I was told that the most simple tasting French food is always the most difficult to prepare..well, before i made this attempt to cook the ever so popular dish in restaurants in France, i thought i'd do a research over its background of how it became a reknown dish and why is it expensive, even sometimes higher than filet mignon and always wads of euros more than salmon happens to be just a mere whole fish cooked in brown butter with a squeeze of lemon and some chopped parsley thrown in!

So I found out that....

1. why is it expensive...Just trying to skin sole fish will tell you why it's so darned expensive!
2. The ART of cooking the sole fish it self
3. And the story behind the dish itself, on how it took the soul of one of France's most revered cooks, Chef Vatel

let's chat a little about the no3 discovery why the sole fish is an expensive dish :)

"Taken from a literature article on the net regarding this particular story"

Before the Roi de Soleil's extravagant palace of Versailles was constructed in 1682, the King traveled around the country with his aristocracy. Wherever he went they were required to go too. In this way he kept an eye on his scheming court and also kept them in dept paying for their travel expenses and hosting lavish parties in his honor.

In 1671, the king traveled to Chantilly to meet with his commander, Prince Condé before waging war on Holland. A great feast was planned hosted by the Prince for the King and his court with the aid of his "Master of Cooks", François Vatel.

The first night of feasting, a light supper was provided of turtle soup, creamed chicken fried trout (whatever that is), and roast pheasant. Seventy-five extra guests attended the party. Vatel was horrified that some of the tables at his super did not receive enough pheasant roast. Although his staff assured him that he wasn't to blame for the shortage of food and unknown quantity of royal guests, he was humiliated by this blunder.

At four o'clock in the morning after what he considered to be a failed first diner, Vatel was still hard at work desperately trying to secure enough food for the next day's gala event, an even more extravagant and opulent menu of anchovies sevigne, melon with Parma ham, lobster quenelles with shrimp sauce, and filet of sole.

He met with a fish monger in the early hours of morning who arrived with an inadequate amount of fish. He asked the purveyor, "Is this all"? and the man replied back to him, "Yes sir" not knowing that Vatel had also ordered more from several seaport towns in France. Vatel waited hoping that more would arrive. Nothing came.

Exhausted from twelve sleepless nights of preparing for Prince Condé's feasts and unable to see a way out of total disgrace, he went to his room and fixed his sword to his door. He ran into it several times. The first two times only wounding himself, the third thrust he pierced his heart. Some say he ran upon it another five times.

Fifteen minutes after his suicide fish poured in to the royal household and assistants came running to find Vatel so that he could distribute it. Too late, Vatel lay dead in a pool of blood.The dinner went on as planned minus the filet of sole course, and all agreed – the Roi de Soleil included – that his death, although tragic, only proved Vatel's code of honor. Vatel traded his soul for sole.
All the drama and all you need not trade your soul for the damn recipe hehehhe here is my version of the famous soul trader = Sole Meunière


2 (8 ounces) sole fillets
Salt and black pepper
8 Tablespoons butter
1 cup flour
4 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic
Lemon slices, for garnish


1. Season fillets with salt and pepper.
2. Heat butter in a large sauté pans on medium high until butter is nut brown. Make sure your pans distribute heat evenly (very important).
3. Dredge fillets in flour, shaking off any excess flour. Do this step right before placing fillets in pans. This ensures a crisp crust.
4. Place fillets in hot saute pans and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and crispy.
5. Remove fillets from pans and transfer onto a platter.
6. Dump out butter from the saute pan. Don't rinse it! Add remaining butter and heat on medium high until golden brown. Take off the heat and add lemon juice and a big three finger pinch of chopped parsley.
7. Place fish on plates and spoon over nut butter lemon sauce.
8. Garnish with lemon slices

so here it is....

my version of the ever so expensive...

Sole Meunière

Soul for Sole?

hmnnn.....i dont think so :P

And this dish is best serve with a salsa salad which i've prepared in just a few my aunt Alys likes to say.."easy-peasy" ;)

my salsa toss out salad

the combo that ignites fire that brings your soul to search for sole :) fish that is...hahaha

and oh yes.....this is the famous "Master of Cooks", François Vatel

Bon appétit!


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