Sole Véronique

Such a lovely yet understatedly light and elegant dish that features a wonderfully decadent sauce that is intensely flavoured to the point that you really want to lick the plate clean! The sauce somehow however does not overpower the fish, but complements it perfectly, as do the subtle addition of grapes that work curiously well – absolutely lovely and extremely quick and easy!

What you need…

700g Lemon or Dover Sole fillets, skinned and trimmed

Sea salt and black pepper

400ml boiling water from the kettle

1 fish stockpot (I use Knorr)

100ml dry white wine

300ml double cream

1 egg yolk

40 seedless white grapes, halved

What to do…

In a jug, dissolve your fish stockpot into the hot water, using a balloon whisk to ease the process.

Season the fish and roll the fillets up quite tightly (this gives them a great texture as they can be quite thin). Put them into a wide saucepan, pour over the hot stock and wine. Pop on the lid and poach the fillets for 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fish from the liquid and transfer into a warmed baking dish. Cover with foil and set aside.

Returning to your fishy stock, turn the heat up to high and boil without the lid until the liquid has reduced to just 5 tablespoons (it is this process that increases the intensity of flavour). This can take 10-15 minutes – just wander off to do other things, but keep checking.

Add 1 tablespoon of the double cream to the egg yolk and set aside.

Remove the fishy stock from the heat and gently pour in the remaining cream, stirring as you do so. Return to the heat and again reduce the liquid – to about two thirds of the original volume – and until is has thickened to coat the back of a spoon.

Preheat your grill to high.

Mix the egg yolk and tablespoon of cream in a bain-marie (heatproof bowl in a steamer over a pan of simmering water) and use your balloon whisk again to beat until the mixture is frothy and thickened.

Pour the egg mixture into the sauce, stir in and then add the grapes.

Pour the sauce over the fish fillets and pop under the grill, cooking until the sauce glazes slightly – maybe 3 minutes.

Serve with a green vegetable (we had broccoli that had been boiled and then mixed in with hot olive oil, chopped garlic and chopped anchovies – the whole dish was absolutely gorgeous and the rich intensity of the sauce is truly a wonderful thing!

Inspired by…

The book, ‘Who put the Beef in Wellington’, the author of which borrowed the recipe from Mark Sargeant, who in turn was inspired by the dish’s original creator, August Escoffier; who, in 1903 whilst leading the kitchen at the Ritz, had the foresight to name this dish after a then popular comedic opera that was the big thing in London, Véronique! The original uses vermouth rather than white wine, but I didn’t have any!

How easy…

Very easy and absolutely worth every second!

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