Working up a big, big appetite for Sole Meunière.

Sole MeunièreIt’s early, very early on an ice-cold morning. Temperatures are just above freezing. My legs are aching, my throat is rasping and my lungs are burning from the effort as I grind out another few meters. I stand out of the saddle. Press left, press right. The wind cuts across the road and freezes my hands to the bars.

I am on a training cycle in the Wicklow Mountains. I pass a gateway. “Windleigh” the house name. Nonsense, I am buffeted from left to right. I grind on. Another house, “Hillcrest”. Balderdash! The crest is supposed to be at the top. I focus my energy on my thighs. Press, lift. Press, lift. Not far to go and I can breathe easier. I pass “Holltop House” also flattering to deceive the weary cyclist. The house names anger me and set the adrenalin rushing.

This gives me the energy to push out the remaining hard yards. Onwards and upwards. Up to what feels like the top of the world. Up where there is nothing but mountain bog, sky and the occasional Wicklow sheep, eyeing me sideways as they chew the luscious grass. Up top, things flatten out and I enjoy the ride, the scenery and prospect of one big, big tasty dinner.

One of the upsides of the big bike rides in the mountains is the calorie burn. A few hours and I can leave between 2,500 and 3,000 calories behind me. That means that I have free reign to cook and eat anything and everything I like. And today, I like Sole Meunière with Baby New Potatoes and Green Beans.

The first thing I have to do is to clarify some butter. I show the pictures just to prove that I did it. Stefan posted about how to do it over on his blog here.

The process requires a 'low and slow' approach.

The process requires a ‘low and slow’ approach.

One side benefit of clarifying the butter is the buttery aroma that fills the house. It does not help quell the raging appetite.

This was the best I could do for a pouring shot. Hot butter does not make things easy.

This was the best I could do for a pouring shot. Hot butter does not make things easy.

Thankfully, there is plenty of butter for other dishes as well.

Three quarters of a pint of clarified butter from a pound.

Three quarters of a pint of clarified butter from a pound.

Now, back to the sole. I got two big lemon sole for this dish. One between the Wife and my Mum. One for me. This is a very simple dish to cook.

The ingredients

  • 2 big lemon sole
  • A big serving of green beans
  • A lemon
  • A big bunch of parsley
  • Lots of potatoes
  • Clarified butter
  • Flour, salt and pepper

First thing to do is get the potatoes on to steam. Next, trim the beans. Then get them steaming. I have a steaming appetite to satisfy, so no hanging around. 

Wash and trim the tops and the tails of the beans.

Wash and trim the tops and the tails of the beans.

Then chop the parsley.

At this stage of the proceedings, my Mum had arrived. She took this picture.

At this stage of the proceedings, my Mum had arrived. She took this picture while I chopped.

Then dust the fish in seasoned flour and fry it in the clarified butter.

Sole Meunière

That is a big pan, filled by a big fish. At this stage, I’d eat the leg off the table!

Remove the fish and turn down the heat. Add the parsley and give it a stir in the remaining butter.

Sole Meunière

Squeeze in the juice of a lemon, being careful not to get splattered with hot buttery parsley.

Stir in the lemon juice, spoon this over the fish and serve.

Sole Meunière

Yes, I ate it all and the seven potatoes. I would have eaten it again, given the opportunity.

I am a small chap, weighing in at around 75 kilos (165 lbs) but the mountain cycling gives one an incredible appetite. If you want to eat without guilt, get on your bike.

Sole Meunière

I nearly forgot, we had a bottle of this stuff with it. Very tasty.

Now after all that, I might have to go up the mountains again to burn it off. Happy eating and happy cycling!

Note: I am doing this training in advance of May 4th 2013 when I am participating in Cycle4Life. I intend covering the 143k course for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is one of my goals for the year. Secondly, we are raising funds for specific works at Dublin’s Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Thirdly, well, there is no thirdly apart from the fact that I have got to love cycling in the past two years. It’s great to be able to do something that one loves while doing a bit of good.

If you want to donate to the cause, do so on this page or visit the Cycle4Life website to see what we are at. If you are in Ireland, you could even jump on your bike….

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Latest comments
  • I love sole meuniere! And what a delicious feast you’ve made with it. Entre-Deux-Mer. Perfection.

    • Thanks Rosemary. A good reward ahead always helps when out on the bike.

  • Looks like a fresh, healthy Spring meal! Mmmm…

    • Thanks Lidia. If only we had some spring…

  • Julia Child would love that 😉
    I cycle everywhere, but sadly it does nothing to exercise the stomach muscles and I’m always hungry…

    • My cycling is leisure only. It doesn’t stop me doing “too much for a man your age”. I love it.

  • Ah! Finally someone cooking the good stuff! My favorite fish and one of my favorite ways to prepare it. And of course, as always, pictures that make you want to eat the damn thing off the screen… Great post!

    • Thank you. The very fresh fish helps with the tastiness and the photos.

  • Beautiful photography. I feel like I’m in the kitchen with you! Looks delicious.

    • Thanks. You are welcome in the kitchen any time

  • A wonderful dish. Best of luck on the 4th of May. 🙂

    • Thanks Paynes. It should be fun. I did it last year and really enjoyed it. It’s a great cause.

  • This simple dish is one of my favorite fish dishes. I didn’t cycle but I’m hungry after seeing that beautiful plate of food.

    • Thanks Karen. Despite my grumblings, it is wonderful to do and good for you too!

  • What a great post, Conor! Sole meuniere is a favorite of mine, too, and you’ve certainly done it justice. The photo showing the sole plated is a restaurant quality presentation. Nicely done!

    • Thanks indeed John. Easy enough when the fish covers the plate.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Lovely meal! Sole was also my first dish made with homemade clarified butter. Thanks for the link 🙂 Nice pictures, including the one taken by your mom. I note the ‘caviar’ has been cut out of the sole, whereas here it’s fried with (even though I don’t like to eat it). I’m impressed by all the cycling you do! 20 km in my flat country is my limit…

    • Thanks Stefan. The fishmonger removed it. I have a cod’s roe post coming up soon. That will lay down a marker on my attitude to the caviar.

      The cycling is more fun when there are mountains to challenge one.

      • I’m afraid with mountains I would cycle even less…

        My fishmonger sells the sole roe deep-fried as a snack. It’s not too bad.

        • One of the guys in my fishmonger is from China. He loves to take it and fry it with garlic, ginger and chili. He swears by it.

  • I’m not a very fishy man myself, tho’ some would argue, but that looks really lovely. Light and very spring/Easter ish. Those potato carbs will have been needed too. Good cause as well. Top pics as ever. You’re a cycling, chefing, fund raising, blogging whirlwind, man! Good on you.

    • Thanks Adam, I could not have put it more succinctly myself!

  • Count me a one of the denizen who love Sole Meunière, done right and you nailed this one, Conor. As for cycling, I remember the days when i would cycle all of the time. You would toil the entire way to make it to the crest to see how fast you could go on the down side. Then my mom would call me and I would have to get off my tricycle and go take a nap. 😉

    • Funny the similarities Richard. The difference is you / your Mom (50 years later) me / the Wife.

  • great way to work up an appetite! training in the winter is pretty tough, I cannot wait for the weather to warm up so that I won’t have to bundle up for my runs anymore! good luck with your race 😉

    • Thanks for that. They keep reminding me that it is NOT a race. I just don’t think that way.

  • Good luck Connor, I winced in empathy reading this. I’ve (fairly) recently done a Coast to Coast and a Newcastle to Edinburgh ride – which for someone whose fitness went the same way as their size 30 jeans many years ago, was a challenge. Thoroughly enjoyed it though.

    Lovely dish too by the way, just how I like fish cooked….

    • Good on you Phil. I have plenty of training in at this stage and lots more to do. As you know, it gives one an appetite.

  • After that ride up the mountain (you paint such vivid picture – I can almost feel the cold morning air in my lungs, as well as the disgust for the house names) that you deserved a hearty meal like this. Well done. And what a worthy cause to put yourself thru such agony for. Can’t wait to see the meal you reward yourself with after the race.

    • Thanks Tommy, I certainly will have long enough to plan it while I do the distance. It really is great fun.

  • Have to smile: ‘I ate it all including the seven potatoes’ but ‘we had the bottle of wine’: you mean you left your poor wife hungry ’cause no cycling effort was attendant from her . . . mmh? Oh, lovely sole 🙂 !

    • I had not looked at it that way Eha. Usually it is more like I let the Wife eat the potatoes and I drink all the wine. That’s fair?

  • I am quite envious that you have the drive to get on your bike in that weather; sadly, I am a fair-weather rider but with Spring coming along (slowly but surely) I am hoping to be on my city bike by the first second week of April. I ride about 7 km to work and back, through some hill and some flat and mostly by Lake Ontario which makes me believe that I’m on holiday for a brief moment. I doubt I burn that many calories during my ride, so I don’t indulge in recipes like yours, but it sure is wonderful seeing the photos and reading about them.
    BTW, I did make an inspiration of your chowder and scone which will be posted sometime in April (I like to work ahead). It was extremely tasty and I have a few thick, creamy stocks ready in the freezer for my next dinner party.
    PS. Why cut the curly ends off the beans? I love them curly on the plate.

    • Thanks Eva. I am looking forward to seeing your post. The ends of the beans get it because of complaints from the young ‘uns. They say they are too tough. I must try ‘forgetting’ to slice them and see what happens.
      Best,
      Conor

  • Love it! Always wanted to try this but.. I don’t know. Just haven’t. But today I shall be eating vicariously through you. If that’s not to weird. Oh, and great use of balderdash. Magic!

  • Impressive exercise and an impressive quantity of butter.. That fish looks stunning 😀

    • Thanks Nick, The exercise allows the butter consumption (not that I used it all).

  • i guess the butter paid off by the excercise….hehehe
    btw, i love the taste of sole or other flat fish, but i hate whaen the fillet begin to curl when pan frien, any suggestion with that?

    • Fry it dark side down first. The skin tends to be thinner on top and is less prone to shrinking the fillet. Still, it can look lovely if it is curled nicely. The trick is ensuring it is cooked.

  • Yum, yum, yum! Anyway I can kidnap you and get you to cook for me? 🙂

    • Talk to the Wife. She may be happy to arrange it.

  • Another yummy looking dish! Wish we had a fresh fish monger here!

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