26 Jul Sole Meuniere (Fried Fish in Butter Sauce)


Sole Meuniere (Fried Fish in Butter Sauce)

26 July 2017

PREP. TIME: 10 MIN   -   COOK TIME: 3 MIN   -   SERVES: 2

Do you recall the scene in the film ‘Julie and Julia’ - when Meryl Streep playing Julia Child falls into raptures at a Parisian restaurant table as she devours Sole a la Meuniere as she exalts over the delicious butter sauce? 

Recipe Template

Instructors from the Nothing - Is - Simpler - school tell us what a simple dish of Sole a la Meuniere is.  Certainly it is simple in conception but not necessarily in its execution.  This does not make it difficult to cook, there are just a few good guidelines to adhere to.  Most importantly - this is a dish best prepared for no more than 3 people.  

I have adapted the comments made by Elizabeth David on the matter in French Provincial Cooking and offer her recipe for Pouissons À La Meuniere which translates simply as Fish Fried in Butter.  Typically we think of sole fillets being most ideal for this delicious, classic, French dish but bream and whiting in particular are also very good.

Reading through the processes Elizabeth David describes here, you have to wonder - what could possibly go wrong?  ‘Fish is fried in clarified butter, transferred to a serving dish and over it is poured a quantity of more freshly cooked, hissing, foaming butter.  A squeeze of lemon juice, a scrap of parsley, and the dish is ready.’


Allow about 150g of whiting, sole or bream fillets per person

Clarified butter

75g Plain Flour

Fine Sea Salt

75g Unsalted butter cut into small cubes

1 lemon quartered

1 Tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

Freshly ground black pepper


Chopping board; Paring knife; Butter knife; Kitchen scales; Fry pan; serving dish; Small saucepan


Step 1.

Select a stainless steel or non- stick pan ideally large enough to comfortably hold all of the fish fillets to be cooked. If the pan is not big enough you will need to cook the fish in one or two batches which can be difficult!

Step 2.

Select a white serving plate and keep this warm to receive the cooked fish

Step 3.

Place a little flour on a plate and have some sea salt handy

Step 4.

Place the pan over moderate heat and spoon in enough clarified butter to cover the base of the pan when melted.  Heat the pan to hot.

Step 5.

Meanwhile, dip the fillets in the flour, one at a time and shake off as much excess flour as possible, gently place each fillet in the hot clarified butter.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Step 6.

Cook the fillets for at least a minute or two.  Gently lift the side of each fillet to check that it is not sticking to the pan and to see the colour.  Once the fish is golden underneath, gently turn each fillet over to finish cooking on the other side.

Step 7.

Cook the fish for a further minute or so, once again checking it is cooked golden underneath.

Step 8.

Transfer the fish to the warmed serving plate and keep in a warm place out of draughts.

Step 9.

Either wipe the frypan clean or use a fresh small saucepan to make the butter sauce

Step 10. 

Add the cubed butter to the pan over high heat

Step 11.

As the butter melts, carefully watch it change colour.  As soon as it is turns a pale nut-brown colour, and while it is still foaming - remove the pan from the heat and spoon or gently pour the butter over the fish. Squeeze a little lemon over, sprinkle with parsley and pepper.  The lemon juice, butter, and parsley combine to create the Meuniere sauce.

Serve immediately.


Recipe by Elizabeth David, French Provincial Cooking, adapted by Elizabeth Peddey

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