Sole Meunière (Sauteed Sole): Interesting facts about this classic French dish



Sole Meunière is a classic French preparation of sole or other delicate white fish (such as Dover sole, lemon sole, grey sole, petrale sole, rex sole, flounder, and tilapia) lightly floured and sautéed in butter. The dish's name translates to "miller's wife" because initially, it was served with the browned flour left in the pan after dredging the fish. A squeeze of lemon juice finishes the sauce.

Sole meuniere is made from Dover sole (or other flatfish) that has been lightly pan-fried and covered in a lemony butter sauce. It's delicious and great for entertaining.

First of all, let's talk about what the "meuniere" part means. "A la Meunière" is a cooking style where the fish is lightly dredged in flour, sautéed or fried, and served with a brown butter sauce that contains lemon juice. The name comes from the French word for "flour."

The recipe is made using butter, flour, and lemon juice, and it is one of the most famous fish recipes from France. You can use any other delicate white fish such as tilapia or haddock instead of sole for a modern version of this classic French recipe.

Basics of Sole Meuniere

In France, sole meunière is a French dish of whole sole that has been sautéed in butter and sprinkled with lemon juice and parsley. The sauce that forms results from the browned bits of butter and fish juices that are leftover in the pan after cooking give excellent taste to sole meunière.

In its most basic form, sole meunière can be made with a few ingredients, but there are many variations. A classic presentation includes a side of potatoes or rice and some steamed vegetables. Sole meunière is often sprinkled with toasted almonds or browned capers or served with roasted wild mushrooms.

Sole meunière is one of the simplest ways to prepare whole fish; it's also a beautiful way to present the finished dish. Meunière means "in the style of the miller's wife"; this refers to the coating of flour used for dredging fish before pan-frying it.


Why is it called Sole Meuniere?

The origin of sole meunière is a bit of a mystery. Some say that it was created by a French chef in the 19th century, while others say it was named after the Meunier family, who lived in the region where the fish is found. We know for sure that sole meunière is one of the most iconic French dishes, and for a good reason.

Sole meunière is a simple dish consisting of sautéed sole filets served with brown butter (beurre noisette) and capers — but there's nothing simple about its flavor. The secret to this recipe is all about technique:

  • If you sear the fish properly, you will have crispy skin on one side and perfectly cooked meat on the other.
  • Served with capers and brown butter, this dish is absolute perfection!

Sole meuniere can be made with other types of white fish, but the genuine sole is considered the best because it has such a delicate flavor. The traditional recipe calls for lemon juice, but I like to add white wine to my version. You can use any dry white wine you have on hand and add a splash more lemon juice if you prefer. Butter is another critical element of this dish, and it gives sole meuniere its trademark rich flavor. Some cooks also like to add a bit of garlic or shallot to their sauce, but I prefer to keep the recipe as pared-down as possible so that it doesn't overshadow the delicate taste of the fish.


Sauce for Sole Meuniere

Meunière sauce is a simple brown butter sauce made with lemon, parsley, and capers. It is a classic French preparation usually served with fish or veal.

The meunière method of cooking fish is to dredge it in flour and brown it quickly in hot butter. The pan juices are deglazed with a squeeze of lemon juice, and the fish is served with the sauce that results from this process.


Best way of Sole Meuniere Sauce

The classic French pan sauce, known as meunière, is made with butter, lemon, parsley, and sometimes capers. It's a straightforward sauce used to finish fish dishes such as sole meunière. The dish originated in Normandy, where the butter is known as beurre noisette (browned butter).

The best way to produce this sauce is to cook the fish and keep it warm while making the sauce. The reason is that once you start preparing the sauce, it goes quickly, so you want your ingredients ready.

One of the advantages of making this sauce is that it's easy: It only takes a few minutes to complete. And while there are many variations on the theme, they all use the same essential ingredients.


  • Browning the Butter

The French make some fantastic food because they have a great sense of what flavors work well together. This is especially true with sauces, and meunière is no exception. To make it, you begin by browning the butter (beurre noisette) until it develops a nutty flavor. You can also add minced garlic or shallot for a little more flavor (and some cooks do).


What to serve with Sole Meunière?

The classic French preparation of sole meunière is a simple but elegant dish. Once the sole fillets are dredged in flour and sautéed in butter, they're showered with toasted almonds, lemon, and parsley. Each bite delivers a delicate balance of browned butter, earthy herbs, and bright citrus and rich seafood.

A dish this refined deserves an equally classy side. Here are some ideas for how to round out your meal:


Mashed Potatoes

The natural pairing for fish is potatoes, and chooses a tasty variety like Yukon golds or purple potatoes. To serve alongside the sole meunière, try cooking potatoes the same way you'd make mashed potatoes — boiled until tender and mashed with butter, milk, or cream. But before you mash them up, stir in some fresh herbs like dill, chives, or parsley. The flavor will be more pronounced than mixing in dried herbs because fresh herbs have a more intense aroma and flavor.

To make the dish more substantial, incorporate more ingredients into the mashed potatoes before topping them with fillets. Try adding some chopped green onion to balance out the fish's richness. Or add strips of bacon for a smoky flavor that pairs well with the brown butter sauce.

This classic French preparation of the Dover sole is straightforward and elegant. You might be wondering what to serve with sole meunière,


Sole Meunière classic french dish


So here we offer our suggestions:

  • A simple green salad can help cut through the richness of fish and butter sauce
  • French fries or roasted potatoes, like pommes Anna. Sole meunière is a great way to enjoy fish and potatoes together
  • Steamed broccoli or green beans: There's something about this combo of flavors that works.
  • Cauliflower Gratin: This dish is so addictive you may find yourself fighting over the leftovers!


Wine pairings with Sole Meuniere

Sole meunière is a classic French preparation, which means the sole (a flatfish) is dredged in seasoned flour and sautéed. Traditionally, it's served with browned butter and lemon juice sauce.

The wine you choose should complement this preparation. In particular, the lightness of the sole, the acidity of the lemon, and the richness of the butter are vital components to account for when pairing this dish with wine.

  • You can't go wrong with a classic white Burgundy (Chardonnay). This traditional pairing fits right in with the classically French cuisine.
  • If you want to try something different try a viognier or a Chardonnay from California or Australia. These wines have similar characteristics as white Burgundy, but they don't carry the same hefty price tag.

Many people will tell you that pinot noir pairs well with fish; I say that's only half true. Pinot noir pairs well with foods cooked in butter, and it can handle citrus flavors better than most reds, but it can be overwhelmed by oily fish like salmon or tuna.

The fish suitable for this cooking style include Dover sole, flounder, halibut, and turbot. But any mild whitefish can be substituted and the most people suggest pairing this with Chardonnay or white Burgundy since it is a French dish. But I prefer something lighter and more minerally like Muscadet or Chenin Blanc to go with the delicate flavors of the fish and lemon juice. A dry Riesling would also be good option.


How do you eat Grilled Soles?

A grilled sole is a tasty fish that can be eaten in various ways. Grilled sole tastes fantastic and can be eaten with your hands, as long as you have a knife around to cut the fish.

If you want to learn how to eat grilled soles with your hands, keep reading!

To eat a grilled sole, you will first need to place the entire fish on a plate. The next step is to remove the head and tail, and then slice the fish down the middle of its spine. Once the fish is cut down the middle, you can remove the bones from each half of the gutted fish. The final step is to grill both fish halves until they are cooked through and crispy on top.

The soles are so thin that you can eat them whole.


To make them, you need:

  • salt
  • pepper
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • grill (I use a George Forman grill)


The process:

  1. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  2. Drizzle the lemon juice over the fish. I use about 1/4 cup for two sole fillets, but it just depends on how much juice the lemons produce. After placing the lemon juice on top, flip the fish over and do the same on the other side. Then sprinkle olive oil over both sides of the fish. Let marinate for a half-hour to an hour. If you're not going to grill them right away, then put them in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook them.
  3. Preheat your grill, place the fish in the grill, and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until your desired doneness level is reached. Enjoy!


Side dishes to serve with Sole Meunière

There are few better meals than a freshly fried sole meunière. This classic French dish is simple yet elegant, and it's an easy recipe to do at home.

The dish comprises simply seasoned sole fillets that are dredged in flour and pan-fried in butter until they're golden brown. The fillets are then sprinkled with lemon juice and served with the pan sauce — a combination of pan drippings and butter that's been cooked until nutty brown.

Sole meunière pairs beautifully with fresh vegetables and potatoes; here are some suggestions for sides:

Sole Meunière is an incredibly versatile dish, and it can be served with a variety of side dishes, from vegetables to grains to potatoes to salads. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Ratatouille
  • Sauteed Zucchini and Bell Peppers
  • Grilled or Roasted Vegetables
  • Steamed Rice
  • Rice Pilaf
  • Wild Rice Salad
  • Couscous with Saffron, Currants and Pine Nuts


Sole Meuniere is healthy food option

Sole Meuniere is a classic French dish in which sole fish is sauteed in clarified butter, with a sauce made from the pan drippings. It's usually served with lemon wedges, and some sauce spooned over the fish.

You can make Sole Meuniere healthier by swapping out the butter for olive oil, serving it with whole-grain bread instead of white bread, and pairing it with vegetables instead of other starchy side dishes.

Olive oil has many health benefits over butter, including lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol. Whole-grain bread is rich in fiber, which aids digestion and helps you feel full longer. Varying your side dishes to include more vegetables increases your fiber intake while reducing your daily calorie intake.


So the Sole Meuniere is in its simplest form, this dish is perfect, but it can be elevated by adding many variations during its preparation and you would enjoy it.

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