It is unusual for me to come home after 7pm at night, after a long day of sitting in my therapist chair, and cook an elaborate meal. But my beloved had bought fresh sole. Not quite the bleeding deer flung over shoulders, or a silvery fresh catch hooked over fingers, but close enough to satisfy the primitive pride of providing for me, for us. So I gathered sweet, seedless muscat grapes, a bottle of Pernod, and a cheapish bottle of white wine on my way home. And by now you must have guessed that I made that almost retro, very French, Sole Veronique. My husband thinks that Veronique is quite a sexy name: “porn-star sexy”. I had to smile at his remark. I had never made that association!
I am always rather amazed by how simple some impressive tasting and looking dishes are. It did not take more than half and hour from start to plating up: the sole cooks in minutes in the wine and water and Pernod and spring onion poaching liquid, and that takes another maybe ten minutes to boil away to that intense almost sticky, very fishy and aniseedy(strictly speaking star anise from the Pernod) flavoured reduction. Of course one removes the just cooked fish before starting to reduce the liquid. A good amount of cream and the halved grapes(I don’t peel them: life’s too short!) added into this reduction makes for a glistening, deep cream and green sauce that when spooned over the sole, creates this iconic dish.
Later, lifting the intact bone from the sole in my plate, I said: “Look, the spine of my sole!” My husband smiled: “The spine of your soul”…. And I thought: Yes. The sexy and the soulful. And sometimes a French fish dish on an ordinary Tuesday.