Sunday, March 28, 2010

Seared Sole and Citrus Salad: a Fresh Spring Supper

I don’t often get the chance to cook, but the other afternoon I picked up some tangerines, blood oranges, and local Petrale Sole from the grocery store, which, together, made for a light and refreshing dinner. The preparation was fairly simple. First, I prepared a beurre blanc for the fish. Leaving the white wine to simmer off the pan gave me time to compose the citrus and baby greens salad. Searing the fish came last. For time’s sake I cooked the sole in the saucepan used for the beurre blanc.

Without doubt, preparing the beurre blanc is both the most difficult and the most tedious part of the preparations. That said, making the sauce really isn’t that hard. All it takes is:

  • White wine (1/16th cup)
  • White wine vinegar (1/16th cup)
  • Some shallots, minced (1-2 teaspoons)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper, preferably white (just a hint)
  • And, of course, butter (about one stick, cold, cut into medium-sized pieces).

The first step to preparing the beurre blanc is reducing the white wine and vinegar to serve as a base for the sauce. To do this throw the shallots, wine, and white wine vinegar, and a hint of white pepper into a saucepan over medium heat. You’ll boil off at least ¾ of this mixture before mixing in the butter. It’s easy to jump the gun on this one, and if you do, the sauce just becomes too thin. To avoid this, I like to reduce the liquid au sec (until the pan is almost entirely dry and the shallots contain most of the liquid). Then you can switch the burner to low heat and begin to whip in the butter one chunk at a time. Add the next chunk as the previous one is about to disappear. It is important that the pan doesn’t get too hot at this point. You should be able to touch the center of the pan with your bare finger. Use as much butter as you need to give the sauce the consistency of a hollandaise. Once you’re there, taste, add salt/pepper as needed, and pour off into a container.

While the white wine is reducing, take a moment to prepare the salad. I used

  • 1 blood orange
  • 2 tangerines
  • Some leafy greens

For the dressing,

  • Fresh (Meyer) lemon juice (one small lemon, or one half medium-to-large lemon)
  • Olive oil (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Dijon mustard (1 teaspoon)
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Zest from the blood orange.

The salad is simple, just cut the orange and tangerine into rounds and mix in with the greens. You can use whatever dressing you want, but I recommend a citrus base, since this will go nicely with the fish and the citrus is the salad. The best dressing will come not from following a strict recipe, but mixing all the ingredients and adjusting to taste. My preference is for a dressing a little bit of thickness; this comes from the mustard. Honestly, you really don’t need anything other than the lemon juice for a great dressing. If you want, just squeeze the lemon over the greens.

Time to sear the sole. This will only take a few of minutes. For the oil, I just used a little olive oil and orange zest. Salt lightly and pepper. It won’t take more than a couple minutes for each side. Plate, add the beurre blanc, and enjoy!

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