When the sole -- skinned, beheaded, boned, and filleted up to the tail -- are cooked, they curl up, somewhat like Medusa’s locks. The dish is a study in brilliant simplicity.
- Dover Sole - 4, (or flounder), about 1 pound each, cleaned and scaled
- Fish stock or bottled clam juice - 4 cups
- Fresh Fennel Sprigs - 4
- Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
- Capers - 1/4 cup, drained
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Beurre Blanc - 1-1/2 cups, (recipe follows)
- Beurre Blanc
- Shallots - 6, minced
- Dry white wine - 1-1/2 cups
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1-1/2 cup (3 sticks), cut into 1-inch pieces
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Skin the sole and remove the heads. Using the point of a sharp knife, but through the flesh along the side fins. Working at an angle, with the knife almost flat, cut the flesh away from the ribs. Turn the fish over and repeat the process to end up with 2 whole fillets still attached at the tail. Beginning two inches from the tail, cut both fillets into 8 lengthwise strips.
In a large saucepan, bring the fish stock or clam juice to a rolling boil. Holding 1 sole by the tail, carefully lower the fish into the simmering stock. The strips should curl gently. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the fish from the pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining fish. Keep warm. In a small, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil to 350 F and cook the fennel sprigs just until crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and arrange one fillet on each of four plates with the tail at 12 o’clock. Garnish with the deep-fried fennel sprigs. Pour beurre blanc around the fish. Sprinkle capers over the sole and sauce.
In a medium saucepan, cook the shallots and wine over high heat until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the cream and cook over low heat until reduced to 1 tablespoon. Over low heat, whisk in 4 pieces of butter, one at a time, adding more pieces as the butter blends into the sauce. Strain and keep warm over hot water if not used immediately. If the sauce becomes too hot and yellow streaks of butter appear, take it off the heat and whisk in 2 or 3 more pieces of cold butter until it recombines.