A Memorable Fillet of Sole, With a Touch of Color

 , The New York Times  |  Updated: February 04, 2016 12:45 IST

A Memorable Fillet of Sole, With a Touch of Color
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Fillet of sole is the perfect fish to cook for a romantic and elegant dinner for two.

Dover sole can be pricey, $30 a pound or more, but lemon sole and gray sole are more reasonable. The fish calls for little fuss and cooks quickly; the flavor is mild, and the finished dish is light.

And when you are cooking for only two, you can prepare the fish using my favorite method: on top of the stove in a frying pan.

The whole thing is ready in about 30 minutes, which will give you time to enjoy a glass of Champagne before dinner.

In this recipe, the fillets are adorned with bright, juicy, sweet and tart segments of blood orange, which contrast beautifully with the understated fish. I included fennel as a nod to the many times I have enjoyed fennel with white-fleshed fish in France.

But the orange segments, heated through as the pan is deglazed, are the crowning glory, the unexpected element that will make you remember every bite.



Sole With Fennel and Blood Oranges

Yield: 2 servings

Total time: 30 minutes

1 blood orange, or a Cara Cara navel orange or a half-grapefruit

3/4 pound fillet of sole

Salt and ground black pepper

3 tablespoons corn flour (very fine cornmeal) or all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced, about 1 1/2 cups
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Chopped fennel fronds for garnish

1. Cut away the ends of the orange, stand it on end and cut away the skin and pith by slicing down the sides, following the curvature of the fruit. Hold orange above a bowl to catch juice and cut the sections out from between membranes. Cut sections in half crosswise and set aside with the juice.

2. Season fish with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge in flour and tap to remove excess.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat in wide, heavy skillet, preferably nonstick, that can accommodate fish fillets in a single layer. Add fennel and cook, stirring often, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and return the pan to the heat.

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4. Add the remaining olive oil and the butter to the pan. When butter has begun to foam, add fish fillets, rounded side down. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until the fillets release easily from the surface of the pan and are lightly colored. If the fillets are thin, check after 1 minute. Cook on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes, until fish is opaque all the way through. Do not overcook, or fish will fall apart.

5. Carefully transfer to individual plates or to a platter. Add lemon juice and orange sections and juice to the pan and stir constantly with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Juice should quickly reduce by half or more. Spoon juice and orange sections over the fish. Sprinkle chopped fennel fronds over top and serve with sautéed fennel on the side.

© 2016 New York Times News Service

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