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How to make classic French Sole Meunière

Fish on a plate, drizzled with butter and parsley and a lemon wedge

When the great American cook Julia Child first came to France – she wasn’t a cook. She was a curious visitor keen to sample all that France offered. And her first meal in a restaurant was in Rouen in Normandy in one of the oldest restaurants in France, La Couronne. She had sole meunière. And it changed her life forever. “It was the most exciting meal of my life” she wrote, “A morsel of perfection”… and the rest is history. She learned to cook in France, wrote recipe books and became one of the most famous cooks in America.

It’s a simple dish but it’s an authentic taste of French cuisine. Meunière means” miller’s wife” and refers to the fact that the fish is coated in flour before cooking. And it’s been a staple recipe in France for hundreds of years – said to be one of the favourite dishes of King Louis XIV.

Note: A classic sole meunière is made with a bone-in fillet, but boneless sole is faster and easier.

How to make French Sole meunière for 4 people

4 sole – either boneless sole fillets or gutted/skin & heads removed fish
200g (70z/7/8 cup) clarified butter*
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3-4 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons plan (all purpose) flour
Wedges of lemon to decorate

*Make clarified butter: head the butter in a pan, when it melts, remove the foamy white layer from the surface, take pan off the heat. Doing this removes the milk solids and water and leaves you with the butterfat which is better for frying.


Dry the fish with paper towel. Lightly flour and season with salt and pepper/

Heat ¾ of the clarified butter in a pan and fry the fish for about 4 minutes on each side or until the fillets are golden brown. You can do this in two batches (just use half the butter each time).

Pop the fish on a plate, drizzle with the lemon juice and sprinkle the parsley.

In the pan, heat the remaining butter until it goes brown (don’t burn it) – known as beurre noisette (nutty butter).

Pour the beurre noisette over the fish.

Add a lemon wedge and serve with fries or a green salad and some delicious fresh bread.

The perfect French fish dish.

More great French dishes

How to make classic moules marinieres
Coquille St Jacques with truffle and Sauternes sauce
Sea bream in garlic bouillon by Michelin Star chef Gerald Passedat

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