This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
No other fish is named so frequently in English and French menus as the sole and, as a consequence, it is named with great frequency in menus of this side as well, yet there are no soles in American waters, and all that are genuine are the few brought over in ice by the steamers. The flounder and the Nova Scotia fluke have to do duty for the sole on this side in a general way, and other fish are pressed in to furnish the coveted fillets when those are not available. A tourist in California wrote back complaining that all the fillets of soles in San Francisco were cut from halibut. On the other hand we have some of the choicest fish that swim which are quite unknown in European markets, and they scarcely find a place in our own bills of fare for the odd reason that the majority of the cooks were brought up from childhood on sole, and have not yet learned pompano, or Spanish mackerel, or anything but the flounder substitute. The sole is a flatfish of excellent quality, best adapted to be cut in thin fillets (boneless bands or strips), and coiled, and cooked in that neat shape.
CANDY SULTANE SUR SOCLE.
"As Villemessant, the founder of the Figaro, used to say, one can always tell if a man is a.gourmet by listening to what he orders in each particular restaurant, for every restaurant here has its special dish, on the preparation of which, to a certain degree, its reputation depends. The Restaurant du Gymnast, or Cafe Marguery, for instance, is celebrated for its filet de sole a la Marguery, the fish being prepared with a delicious sauce made of mussels, shrimps, and white wine. The recipe for the famous sole Marguery appears to be much the same as for first-class sole Normande. Boil sole in chablis, take out fish and remove bone, dividing meat into four fillets. Add more wine to that in which fish was cooked, and make a ragout of shrimp-meat (from the tails), crawfish-meat (idem.), mushrooms, truffles, mussels, butter, and a good piece of meat-stock. When these ingredients are all thoroughly cooked, pour the sauce over the fillets of sole, and stand in the oven for some minutes. Garnish the dish with fried white-bait, and serve.
The above recipe was given me by a cordon bleu who lives in the house.
To prepare this dish in perfection, it is imperatively necessary that the fish should be a big one, and that the flesh should be entirely separated from the bones. The oval silver dish, moreover, on which this delicacy is usually served, should be well buttered and cunningly powdered with finely minced and scrupulously blanched onions. Before being cooked, the sole should be seasoned with pepper and salt, and judiciously moistened with white wine; and while the cooking is in process the sauce should be a-making - a "maigre allemande," or white sauce, of which the stock is the water in which mussels have been boiled. The garnishing comprises these same mussels, together with oysters, champignons, fried smelts, and fried sippets of bread. Just for five minutes before serving must the sole be popped into a moderately heated oven; but the delicate white of the allemande sauce must not be suffered to brown. In nineteen French restaurants out of twenty there is served with the sole an "allemande grasse" - such a vulgar sauce, indeed, as is poured over a fricassee of fowl or a dish of boiled sheep's trotters; but a real " Normande" should have essence of fish and not meat, for its fundamental motive.
Make a nice breakfast dish served with tomato sauce. Dip each fillet in batter, see that they are well covered with this, and fry in boiling fat until they are nicely browned. Serve in the center of a dish, and pour the sauce round.
Scrape and clean out your soles, cut off the heads and tails, and toss in a saut^pan with sufficient fresh butter to cover them; sprinkle with chopped parsley, chives, salt and pepper; turn the fish, and, when cooked, dish up, covered with Italian sauce.
Toss the fillets in a saucepan with butter. When done, place round a dish, and fill the center with boiled shrimps and minced truffles. Cover with German sauce, to which you have added a little shrimp butter.