Wednesday, February 02, 2011

My Sole Rejoices

Back from sickness, back from Pittsburgh, in case you were wondering.
  Today, I'd like to address my inability with fish, and how I've gotten around it.  Not shellfish, mind:  Set me loose on oysters, mussels, lobster, you name it, and I will create dish fit for Neptune himself.  Flatfish, however are my piscine bete noir.  I undercook and overcook and can't turn a filet without it falling to bits--even while using a special fish spatula.

All of which somehow brings me back to my Catholic school girlhood, and the days of fish on Fridays.  Until my mother discovered that she could buy shrimp already cooked and chilled, we had lemon sole every week.   It amazes me now that it seems to have occurred to no one at all that it wasn't that fish was compulsory on Friday but that meat was on as 24-hour proscribed list.  Seriously, it would have been nice to have a grilled cheese sandwich stand in for that sole once in a while.

Mom, no great fan of cooking in general, did have a simple method of preparing that relentless lemon  sole.  She dotted it with butter and popped it in the broiler.  My method is a bit more complicated:  melt the butter, add some spices, dip the fish in the butter, and pop in the broiler.  (Why did I not remember this sooner?  Tied up with memories of the utterly horrifying St. Agnes Seminary, I expect.)

 I was rather shocked at the results: perfectly done, moist fish, that flaked at the touch of a fork.  Now, if only I could forget Sister Helen Gertrude.

fish filets, cut into reasonably similar-sized pieces (I used cod)
melted butter, seasoned with--at the very least--salt and pepper. (Other options include aleppo pepper, hot    sauce, Old Bay, a squeeze of lemon, and so forth)

Heat the broiler.  Dip fish in seasoned butter.  Broil until done, 5-7 minutes, depending upon thickness.  If you're not sure that the fish is done (I never am), slice into gently and check.

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.