Visiting northern France is a pleasure, with many villages along the coast offering a variety of fresh seafood. The seaport of Dieppe, captured between high cliffs and the seashore was more of a resort in its heyday, but the fishermen still bring in a catch worthy of your attention, and the local cusine benefits greatly from this treat. Parisians would take the train here, then ferry over to England. The English used to come here to swim, now they have discovered warmer places like Spain... but that's another story.
There has always been plenty of sole to catch in these waters, and one local offering is "Sole Dieppoise," a tasty dish that also features another local favorite, mussels. Modern variations also feature shrimps and exotic mushrooms, but locals keep it simple with the sole and mussels swimming in a divine sauce. Here is my own variation of the classic seafood dish from Dieppe; easily made anywhere you can get some fresh filet of sole and mussels.
Filet of Sole Dieppoise
1 sole, filleted
1 dozen mussels, cooked and shelled
1 small onion
1 bouquet garni
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup cream
salt and pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
cayenne pepper or paprika
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190 C).
Using a pot large enough to hold the mussels and fish, add the wine, bouquet garni, onions, fish and mussels. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer for 6 minutes or until the mussels open. Remove the fish and mussels, discarding any shellfish that did not open. Reduce the remaining liquid by boiling for five minutes, and strain thru a filter.
Place the fish and shelled mussels into a buttered casserole and pour the strained liquid over the fish and mussels. Butter a piece of aluminum foil and use it to cover the fish. Bake for twenty minutes.
Pour liquid from casserole into a saucepan, and bring to a simmer on the stove. In a small bowl blend the butter into the flour, salt and pepper, a pinch of grated nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne or paprika. Whisk small amounts of this paste into the simmering broth and keep whisking until the sauce is cooked to a nice smooth consistency. Mix the egg yolk and the cream together in a small bowl, and whisk into the thickened sauce. Simmer for five minutes or until thickened nicely.
Arrange fillets and mussels on a warmed platter, pour sauce over all and garnish appropriately with some chopped fresh herbs. Sprinkle some lemon juice on top, and serve immediately.
Perhaps this could be the centerpiece of your next family gathering, or for an impressive dinner to impress your date. I hope you enjoy this little slice of France.
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