To Fry Soles

In season all the year

Method

All fish to fry well must be not only fresh but perfectly free from moisture, particularly when they are to be dressed with egg and bread-crumbs, as these will not otherwise adhere to them. Empty, skin, and wash the soles with extreme nicety, from one to two hours before they are wanted for table; and after having cleansed and wiped them very dry both inside and out, replace the roes, fold and press them gently in a soft clean cloth, and leave them wrapped in it until it is time to fry them; or suspend them singly upon hooks in a current of cool air, which is, perhaps, the better method of proceeding when it can be done conveniently. Cover them equally in every part, first with some beaten egg, and then with fine dry crumbs of bread, mixed with a very little flour to make them adhere with more certainty: a small teaspoonful will be sufficient for two large soles. Melt in a large and exceedingly clean frying pan over a brisk and clear fire, as much very pure-flavoured lard as will float the fish, and let it be sufficiently hot before they are laid in to brown them quickly; for if this be neglected it will be impossible to render them crisp or dry. When the fat ceases to bubble, throw in a small bit of bread, and if it takes a good colour immediately the soles may be put in without delay. An experienced cook will know, without this test, when it is at the proper point; but the learner will do better to avail herself of it until practice and observation shall have rendered it unnecessary to her. Before the fish are laid into the pan, take them by the head and shake the loose crumbs from them. When they are firm, and of a fine amber-colour on one side, turn them with care, passing a slice under them and a fork through the heads, and brown them on the other. Lift them out, and either dry them well on a soft cloth laid upon a sieve reversed, before the fire, turning them often, or press them lightly in hot white blotting paper. Dish them on a drainer covered with a hot napkin and send them to table without delay with shrimp or anchovy sauce, and plain melted butter.

Very small soles will be done in six minutes, and large ones in about ten. They may be floured and fried, without being egged and crumbed, but this is not a very usual mode of serving them.

Small soles, 6 minutes; large, about 10 minutes.

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