Fish fried in butter is an elegant dish that is simple to prepare. A basic recipe for sole meuniere, which comes from the Normandy region of France, can be used for pan-frying any type of fish fillet in butter. You can also use it to cook flatfish such as flounder or halibut. After the fish is cooked, a browned butter sauce is prepared in the same skillet and served with it.
If you are using a whole flatfish, have it cleaned and gutted at the fish market. They can also remove the skin from fish fillets, but this is not hard to do yourself. Hold a sharp knife perpendicular to the fillet, just above the tail end. Cut down until you feel the resistance of the skin, and tilt your knife so the edge faces the rest of the fillet. Slowly separate the skin from the flesh by bringing the angled knife to the other end of the fillet.
Place the flour in the mixing bowl. Finely mince the sprigs of parsley, and grind enough peppercorns to produce 1/2 tsp. of ground pepper. Add both to the flour, along with 1 tsp. of salt, and mix thoroughly.
Place 3 tbsp. of butter and the olive oil in the skillet. Adjust your range setting to medium.
While the butter is heating up, pat each piece of fish with paper towels to get rid of any excess moisture. Coat the fish with flour, then gently tap it to remove any extra. Place it in the skillet once the butter has stopped bubbling. Don't crowd fillets in the pan. It's better to cook successive batches.
The fish will take one to five minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish or fillets. Test to see if it's cooked by lightly prodding it with your finger, while being careful not to burn yourself. The fish should have some give when you prod it, according to Julia Child. If it flakes, it is overcooked.
Lay out paper towels for absorbing any grease. Carefully lift the fish out of the pan and onto the towels. Add more butter, lemon juice and capers to the pan, and heat until the butter begins to brown and have a rich smell. Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve.
Jacob Nomi has been writing professionally since 2011. His areas of expertise include linguistics, law, Russian literature, exercise science and nutrition. Nomi holds a Master of Arts in Russian literature and linguistics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.