Last week, when celebrating Julia Child's100th birthday, I started craving that famous dish that she described as an early culinary epiphany while in France: sole meuniere. It is one of the best and simplest fish preparations in the world, with its nutty brown butter and burst of lemon juice. Amandine is a variation that uses sliced almonds, and this recipe from Bobby Flay takes it a step further with preserved lemons in place of lemon juice.
Why I Picked This Recipe: Though Julia mentions this style of preparation as one of her favorites, I couldn't find her actual recipe for it, which led me to this version by Bobby Flay. Rather than using lemon juice for acidity, Flay calls for preserved lemon, more of a north African ingredient than a traditional French one.
What Worked: The preserved lemon was actually an interesting twist, giving the sauce the aroma and flavor of lemon without as much accompanying acidity.
What Didn't: Flay calls for olive oil to cook the fish, which I felt gave it an unwelcome flavor distracting from the pure nutty flavor of the browned butter. In the recipe below, I changed it to neutral oil. Ideally, choose a high-smoke-point oil such as grapeseed.
Suggested Tweaks: Skate wings can be difficult to find, and actually, Julia's first experience with the dish was with sole. I've also made it with whole butterflied local trout, which works beautifully.
Adapted from Food Network.
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
- 4 skate fillets, about 2 pounds total
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 stick unsalted butter, quartered
- 3 preserved lemon rinds, diced, or 2 tablepoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Heat oil in a large (12-inch) stainless steel or cast iron skillet pan over medium high heat until lightly smoking. Season the skate wings with salt and pepper, then dredge on both sides in the seasoned flour. Tap off any excess, then carefully half of the skate wings into the oil.
Sear the skate wings until golden brown, 2-3 minutes, then flip and continue cooking on the other side until the flesh just begins to flake. Remove to a plate and keep warm while repeating with the remaining skate wings.
Wipe out the pan and return it to the heat. Add the butter and cook until the foam subsides and it begins to turn nutty and brown. Add the preserved lemons (if using) and almonds and cook until the almonds are golden. Add the parsely and lemon juice (if using) to halt the cooking process. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and pour over the fish.