People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
03/06/2002 Fish with sorrel sauce (Poisson à l'oseille)
For 4 servings:
2 lbs. of fish filets (any non-oily white fish works with this recipe; sole, cod, lake perch, trout are all good.), skins, if any, removed 2 good-sized shallots, minced 1/2 c. muscadet or other acidic white wine 1 2/3 c. heavy cream or crème fraîche 2 bunches of sorrel leaves of about 20 leaves each, stems and veins removed (by bending stem backward) and chopped 2 T. unsalted butter Salt and pepper Approx. 3 new potatoes, depending on size, per person Coarse sea salt and chopped flat-leaved parsley.
Steam or boil the potatoes in their skins and reserve.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
In a small enameled or stainless saucepan, melt 1 T. of the butter. Toss in the shallots and cook them over low heat without coloring until soft. Add the sorrel and stir, cooking gently, until the sorrel "melts." Add the wine and cook until reduced by 1/4. Add the cream and cook gently for a few minutes until the sauce naps a spoon. Do not allow to boil. Correct the seasoning and remove from heat.
Meanwhile, melt 2 T. butter, and dip the fish (washed, dried, and cut into portion-sized pieces) into it on both sides. Place them in a single layer in a shallow dish and roast until done (about 15 minutes per inch of thickness). You may turn on the broiler for the last couple of minutes to brown them lightly.
Place a pool of sauce on each plate. Top with the fish and garnish with the potatoes sprinkled with a bit of sea salt and chopped parsley. The rich sauce is as delicious with the potatoes as with the fish.
Fish with sorrel sauce is a staple of French cookery. If you've never cooked with sorrel, now's the time to try. Its gentle acidity and ability to "melt" when cooked make it a perfect complement to fish, veal, and eggs. In this recipe, the sorrel acts with the wine as an acidifier in an emulsion sauce similar to a Béarnaise in technique, but much easier.
If you can't find sorrel in your supermarket, by all means plant some. It's as easy to grow as a weed, which it practically is, being a close relative to dock. When it starts to bolt in early summer, cut the flowering stems for arrangements and you'll continue to get leaves throughout the summer into early winter. Gardeners in mild regions can enjoy sorrel all year. It is perennial.