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Shallow Poached New England Sole
with Crab
By Charlie Burke

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Excellent sole is fished in New England, and native blue crab is as sweet and
tender as any. Together, they make a light meal when prepared with
ingredients that highlight their mild flavors.

Too often, sole is fried in a seasoned coating which obscures its flavor, and crab
meat is made into dense cakes which are and composed mostly of fillers. This
dish is all about the flavors of the crab and sole.

In this preparation, the crabmeat is lightly tossed with lemon juice and olive
oil, along with capers. The acidity brightens and complements the crab’s
sweetness, resulting in a sort of warm crab salad. The sole is poached in dry
white wine and butter with shallots; then the liquid, along with the juices from
the fish, is briefly reduced to make a light sauce.

The result is a dish where the flavor of both the sole and the crab are present,
each enhanced by the mild acidity of the wine and lemon juice, another
example where great ingredients shine when prepared with a few compatible
ingredients. The preparation is simple and quick and suitable for entertaining
or a family dinner.

Four servings:

For crab:

8 ounces fresh crab meat in chunks (use native blue crab in season)
1-2 tablespoons best quality extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemon juice to taste (1 – 2 ½ tablespoons)
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 ½ tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon dry mustard
Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the sole:

1 pound white sole or other native flat fish
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and ground pepper

In a bowl, gently toss the crab with the olive oil. Add a tablespoon of lemon
juice and mix. Taste, adding more lemon juice or olive oil until acidity is
balanced. Add the remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper and toss
again. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in a small pan and gently warm over
low heat as fish is being prepared.

In a sauté pan large enough to hold the fillets in a single layer, melt the butter
over medium heat and cook shallots until soft. Add wine and parsley and bring
to a boil. Lightly season the sole with salt and pepper and place fillets into the
pan. Increase heat until liquid returns to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low.
Cook until the filets are just opaque (3 – 5 minutes) and carefully remove to
heated plates. Raise heat to high and boil the liquids until slightly reduced.
Taste, adjusting salt and pepper, and add a teaspoon or two of  butter or olive
oil if the sauce is too acidic Top each fillet with the warmed crab and pour plan
juices over the fish. Serve immediately.

Serve with spinach or other dark green to add color and contrasting flavor,
along with a green salad and rice, couscous or potato. I like the light acidity of
the lemon and wine which brighten the sole and crab without masking their
delicate flavors and find that this simple “poaching” technique works with
other fish, as well. Salmon pairs well with dill in the liquid, and halibut
poaches nicely. The key in any of these preparations is to avoid overcooking
the fish, so cut into thicker pieces and remove them when slightly underdone
because larger fillets will continue to cook from retained heat.

About the author:  An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm
to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Shallow Poached New England Sole with Crab
©The Heart of New England online magazine
...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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