Sole is a white, flat fish. The word “sole” comes from sandal since that’s what this fish looks like. The fish has two sides: the underside is a beautiful shimmering white, the upperside (with the eyes) is a camouflage pattern. However, I only know this from reading about it!
The fishmonger I went to didn’t have a whole sole (joking he only had half a soul left!) for me to practice filleting. He also didn’t have any sole fillets, so I ended up buying snapper fillets and a whole Red Snapper to try filleting. The snapper fillets were my backup knowing I wouldn’t be all that successful at creating an edible fillet on my first try.
I don’t have a picture of how my fillets turned out since they weren’t photogenic! I even watched a couple of videos beforehand to try to hone my skills, but I need more practice!
Watch a pro fillet a sole
Here's a great video showing how to fillet a flat fish.
The two main stocks in French cuisine are white (fond blanc) and brown (fond brun). The key difference between the two is that brown stock is browned in the oven first. Ingredients for white stocks are put in a stock pot with the liquid. The meat used in white stocks could be veal, chicken, or fish. For this dish, we’re using the fish stock (or fumet) made for the last class.
In the world of sauces, the first celebrity chef was Antonin Carême (1784-1833), known as the founder of classic French cookery, and is also known to have made Napoleon's wedding cake. Now there’s a catering job! Carême designated four classic sauces: Béchamel, Velouté (veh-loo-TAY), Espagnole, and Allemande.
Then along came Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), a young, ambitious, whipper-snapper who updated the list of mother sauces to five: Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Hollandaise, and Tomato. Since Allemande is derived from Velouté, it was replaced with Hollandaise and Tomato was added.
For this dish, a Velouté makes up the sauce, which is basically just a thickened stock.
Velouté = Roux blond + white stock (veal, chicken, or fish)
Roux blond = butter + flour (Flour and butter are cooked to a light color)
From a Velouté sauce, you can make a Sauce au vin Blanc (fish stock, wine, egg yolk, and cream), an Allemande sauce (veal stock, egg yolks, and cream) or a Suprême sauce (chicken stock, mushrooms, and cream).
Watch a pro make Velouté sauce
Here's a video showing how to make a Velouté sauce.
This dish is garnished with mushrooms that are preferably fluted, thank you very much. Well, I’ve never fluted a mushroom before, but I found some good information about how to do this fancy technique (after the fact). I thought my fluted mushrooms looked pretty good, and then I saw the ones in this link! I think I should now go out and buy 10 pounds of mushrooms to practice.
SaffronSaffron flavors the recipe I found for Filets de sole Dieppoise. I’ve always known it’s an expensive spice, but I didn’t know it comes from the stigmas in a small crocus (Crocus sativus). The three red stigmas in each crocus are hand-picked and dried. 14,000 stigmas equals 1 ounce, which equals about 5,000 crocuses. According to this link, it takes an acre of crocuses to produce 1 pound of saffron. Personally, I think saffron’s overrated. It tastes like hay, but it looks pretty. I guess it has that going for it!
Fennel is the workhorse in this dish, providing the subtle hint of anise or licorice flavor.
Recipe for Filets de Sole Dieppoise
adapted from 911 Chef Eric’s Recipes
2 sole fillets, 2 lb each
2 ounces shrimp
2 ounces button mushrooms, fluted
1 shallot, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
Juice from ½ a lemon
¼ cup cream
2 oz butter
2 oz flour
2 cups fish stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Note: Some recipes for Filets de sole Dieppoise call for mussels for a garnish as well. I forgot to pick some up when I was at the fishmonger, so I left them out.
Fillet the sole.
Flute the mushrooms and cook on low heat for 10 minutes with the half the shallots, a touch of lemon juice, a bit of butter, and salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Peel the shrimp. Add the shrimp to the baking dish about half-way through the cooking time.
For the sole, sprinkle the bottom of a baking dish with the remaining half of the chopped shallots. Pour the white wine and ¼ cup of fish stock in the baking dish. Fold the sole fillets in half and put in the baking dish. Squeeze half a lemon over the fish. Cover with parchment paper, if desired. Put in oven for 5-8 minutes, until cooked through.
Meanwhile, melt the butter. Then add the flour and prepare the roux. Let it cook gently for five minutes until it’s a blond color. Add the stock, saffron, fennel, and shallots into the roux and let cook slowly five minutes. Remove from the heat and add the whipping cream. Add the saffron and ground fennel, to taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, if desired.
I wasn’t expecting this dish to be so tasty. I had procrastinated working on this dish, and didn’t really want to make it. But this was the most amazing fish and sauce combination I’ve had in a very long time. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though the smell in the house was overpowering! I had leftover sauce and extra shrimp, so the next day I enjoyed shrimp with the Dieppoise sauce, which were excellent leftovers. The hint of licorice from the fennel was delicious. It was creamy, rich, subtle, and amazing.
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Running total: $354.37 + $21.82 = $376.19
Butter used so far: 4 pounds, 28 tablespoons