This dish is a cleaner, brighter version of a traditional chicken or veal piccata. In fact, it bears only a passing resemblance to the piccata preparations of old-school red sauce joints, though the core flavors remain the same. Lemon and capers are essential elements of piccata, and pairing fish with Lemon Confit and Fried Caper Relish is my way of paying homage to the classic dish. Think of it as a deconstructed take that allows each individual component on the plate to shine. I like it when there’s a little variety in every bite, so instead of covering the whole fillet in a buttery wine sauce, you can mix and match little bites of fish, confit, and fried caper.
Fish fried in a shallow pan is one of the quickest meals a home cook can make. Because cooking sole takes less than two minutes, timing is important. The sauce should be totally finished and the table set before you even think about starting the fish.
It’s okay to use any flat white fish like turbot or flounder in lieu of sole, keeping in mind that the cooking time will change according to the thickness of the fillet.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 pound sole or other thin, flaky white fish fillets (about 8 fillets)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup Wondra flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lemon wedges, seeded
- Lemon Confit and Fried Caper Relish, for serving
- Season the fish on both sides with the salt and pepper. Spread the flour on a plate. One at a time, lay each piece of fish on the flour and press gently, then flip to lightly flour the other side. Place the dredged fish on a plate.
- Heat your two largest sauté pans over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil to each pan, and heat until the butter begins to foam slightly and starts to turn a very light golden color. Add half of the fish fillets in a single layer to each pan and tap each piece lightly with a fish spatula to ensure the fillets make good contact with the pan. Don’t worry if your butter is browning; as long as it doesn’t turn black, it will add nice depth of flavor. When the first fillets to go into the pan have cooked for 1 minute, begin flipping all of the fillets in the order in which you put them in. When they have cooked for 30 seconds on the other side, check 1 fillet by gently flaking off an end piece. Make sure each piece is nearly cooked then remove the pans from the heat—the fish will continue cooking slightly. Squeeze a lemon wedge over each pan of fish.
- Carefully transfer the fish to individual plates, dividing them evenly. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the relish over each portion.
- To serve with Quick-Sautéed Greens with Garlic, Lemon Confit, and Chile Flakes as shown (see photo), arrange a small serving of greens alongside the fish.