Le Repertoire de la Cuisine, the indispensable manual for those working in a classical French kitchen, lists nearly 350 ways of preparing sole. Some sound less appealing than others. Sole Archiduc, for example, has the sole poached in Madeira, whisky, port and fish stock. The cooking liquor is reduced, and butter, cream and a brunoise of truffles and vegetables are added, and the fish is coated with this sauce. Not all dishes, however, are so rich and complicated. Sole Bordelaise has the sole poached in red wine with shallots, and then coated with the reduced cooking juices. I think, on balance, that sole is at its best cooked as simply as possible, and that à la meunière shows it off to perfection. Other flat fish, fish fillets and cutlets can be cooked in the same way.
Put the milk in a shallow dish with the salt, and dip the fish in it, then in the flour, coating them well. Season lightly with pepper. Heat the butter until hot, but not burning, in a frying pan, and fry the fish on both sides until done to your liking. Serve on heated plates with the butter poured over the fish, some chopped herbs and the lemon.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.