Friday, January 23, 2015
Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Photograph courtesy of atak.
Sole; the fish.
This member of the sole family is just called Sole or Dover Sole on UK menus. This is the fish to which all other soles and flounders are compared for taste and texture. On French menus, and in French fishmongers Dover Sole will be on sale as Sole, Sole Français, and Sole Bretonne. The recipes originally created for Dover Sole are the recipes used for nearly all other soles and flounders.
Dover Sole or Sole Francaise on French menus:
Filets de Sole Marguery - Filets of sole cooked and served in a sauce made with white wine, butter, crème fraiche, shallots, and served decorated with shrimps and mussels. Marguery, among restaurateurs, is thought of as more than just a great chef. Marguery was the first to organize, as an industry, the Parisian restaurants, and restaurateurs. The organization he created in the late 1800’s still exists.
Marseilles fish market in the old port.
Photograph courtesy of Larry Myhre.
Sole à la Dieppoise – Sole prepared in the manner of the port of Dieppe in Haut Normandie on France's North Atlantic coast. Here the sole will be poached in white wine with mussels and shrimps. Dieppe has always been important as a fishing port and was always one of Paris’s principal sources of fish from the Atlantic. The name Dieppe will be found in recipes for sea fish and seafood from soups to entrees, the American starter, and, of course, in main courses.
Dieppe remains an active fishing port, but it is also is a major entry and exit point for ferries to and From the UK and elsewhere. Many who bring their cars to France by ferry begin their French vacation in Dieppe. Paris is just a two and a half hour drive from Paris. If you are considering driving from Dieppe to Paris take a break at Giverny. In Giverny are the home and garden of the artist Claud Monet and his gardens should not be missed. The English language website with the visiting hours and the costs for those very important "skip-the-line" tickets for Monet's gardens is:
The English language tourist information website for Dieppe and the area around Dieppe is:
Sole à la Nantua – Sole Prepared in the manner of the town of Nantua. Sole lightly fried and served with a covering of Sauce Nantua. Traditionally Sauce Nantua’s main ingredient was the tails from the abundant local crayfish. The crayfish tails were mixed with a Béchamel Sauce made with added butter. The color and flavor of the sauce came from the crayfish’s shells. Today the recipe has changed and the crayfish, unfortunately, will not be local.
The town of Nantua is in the department of Ain in the Rhône-Alpes, bordering Switzerland. Lake Nantua, which borders the town, is a center for water sports and just over one hour away from some of France’s most popular ski resorts. If you are looking for more places with great restaurants then make a note that Lyon is just one hour away to the South and Geneva, Switzerland one hour away to the East.
The English language website for Nantua may be found at:
A quiet corner of Lake Nantua.
Photograph courtesy of thierry llansades.
Sole à la Normande – Sole in the Norman manner. The sauce will include cream or crème fraîche with the fish decorated with mussels or other small shellfish.
The original recipe for Sole à la Normande is credited to a chef called Langlais, which translates as The Englishman in French; I wonder how he got by in Paris with a name like that? Langlais was the chef, in the 1830’s, at the then very famous Parisian restaurant Au Rocher de Cancale. His original Sole à la Normande recipe included oysters and truffles. Usually oysters and truffles will not be in the dish on your menu today.
If you are walking around Paris, there is still a café-restaurant called Au Rocher de Cancale at the same address 78 Rue Montorgueil, in Paris’s second arrondissement. Au Rocher de Cancale today offers good coffee and croissants in the morning as well as lunch and dinner menus. Today Au Rocher de Cancale is a neighborhood restaurant without pretensions. The Rue Montorgueil and the area around is a great place to wander around. The street is a permanent market street and one of the best places for buying meat and fish in Paris
Photo by courtesy of the Comité du Tourisme Haute Bretagne Ille-et-Vilaine.
Normandy took Langlais’s recipe home, but do not be surprised if menus in Normandy offer Sole à la Normande with changes to the recipe. Normandy is also home to some of the best cider in France as well as butter, cream, creme fraiche, Even the mussels served with your sole dish may be the unique small Moules de Bouchot de la Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel AOP,
When considering a visit to Normandy look at the English language website of the Normandy Tourist Board at:
Sole Bonne Femme – Sole cooked and served in a sauce made with white wine, fresh mushrooms, and crème fraîche. The name translates as sole as made by a good housewife. Today, the name may not be politically correct; however, a well-made Sole Bonne Femme is still an outstanding recipe for Dover Sole and one of the most famous sole recipes. While the creator of Sole Bonne Femme is, unknown many chefs have used the recipe as a base upon which they have built their own creations.
Sole Bon Femme.
Photograph courtesy of zorbs
Sole Duglére - A sole recipe named after its creator, one of France's most famous chefs, Adolphe Duglére (1805-1884). The sole is cooked using a recipe Duglére originally created for the fish brill and equally as famous. The Dover Sole is poached in the oven with the white wine, tomatoes, and crème fraîche.
Dugléré began his career as a pupil of the most famous chef of the 19th century Antonin Carême. Later Dugléré’s would become the Chef de Cuisine at the legendary Café Anglais, in Paris, and his own place in culinary history became assured. Quite a number of Dugléré’s recipes are still famous today. For example:
Potage Germiny - A beef consommé flavored with, oseille, sorrel, and crème fraîche.
Pommes de Terre Anna, Anna potatoes. One of France’s most popular potato dishes. The dish was named by Dugléré after a slightly infamous lady who frequented the exclusive private dining rooms on the upper floor of the Café Anglais.
Pomme de Terre Anna.
Photograph courtesy of jay d.
Sole Meunière or Sole à la Meunière - Sole prepared in the manner of a miller's wife. This dish is best when made and served in the traditional manner. Then the fish will be brought to the diner and lightly fried in Sauce Meunière in front of him or her. Sauce Meunière is melted, clarified butter with lemon juice and parsley. When the fish is ready, the server, hopefully, a true artist, will remove all the bones, along with and the head and tail using just a fish knife or a spoon and a few swift hand movements. The fileted fish will be reassembled and placed in front of the diner in less than two minutes. Then the diner may enjoy the aroma of the Sauce Meunière and enjoy the taste and texture of the greatest recipe for Dover Sole ever created.
The fileting of a Sole Meunière.
Photograph courtesy of jthetzel.
While Sauce Meunière was created for Dover Sole it is an excellent sauce for many other white fish and will be on many menus.
Photograph courtesy of PreteMoiParis.
N.B.: An American or Canadian restaurant with filet of Dover Sole on its menu will not be serving Dover Sole from the UK side of the pond. Real Dover Sole is never offered as filets. The Dover Sole caught on North America’s Pacific coast is another larger member of the flounder family.
Sole Véronique - Filet of Dover sole poached in white wine, covered with a white sauce, usually a Béchamel Sauce and garnished with white grapes.
Photograph courtesy of justified sinner.
Sole Walewska – The dish named after Marie Walewska; a Polish Countess who became the most well-known of Napoleon I’s mistresses. The original recipe called for truffles with meat from the two-clawed lobster wrapped around by a filet of Dover Sole. There may be no truffles in today's version; however, Sole Walewska today should still be Dover sole rolled around meat from the two-clawed lobster, or at least meat from the rock lobster, the owner if the lobster tail. All should be served in a wine and cognac based sauce.
Dover Sole in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - Llenguado, (German - zunge or Seezunge), (Italian- sogliola, sogliola volgar, soglia vera, sogliola comune), (Spanish – lenguado, lenguado común), (Latin - solea solea).
Dover Sole in other languages:
(Chinese (Mandarin) -欧洲鳎), (Croation – list), (Danish - almindelig tunge), (Dutch – tong), (Egyptian Arabic - soul shaea), (Greek - Γλώσσα , glosa), (Hebrew – sole, moshe rabenu -סולית מצויה), (Icelandic - sölflúra), (Norweguan – tunge), (Portuguese - sola zwyczajna), (Swedish – tunga), (Turkish - dil balığı). Help with some of the translations come from Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2014. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, version (08/2014).
Crème Fraîche, creme fraiche. What is Crème Fraîche? Why is Crème Fraîche part of so Many of France’s Famous Sauces and More -
Crayfish, Crawdad, Crawfish, the Freshwater Crayfish are Among the Crustaceans on Your French Menu. The Écrivisse. Crustaceans III.
Deciphering Cognac Labels and How to Tell the Age and Grade of a Cognac. Cognac; the World's Most Famous Brandy. Cognac I.
Lobster tails. Thank the Rock lobster, Spiny Lobster or Crawfish. Among the Crustaceans on your French Menu. Crustaceans IV. –
Searching for truffles in France, and truffles on French Menus. The Black Perigord Truffle and Truffles Oils and Truffles Essences.
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2015.
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman
Friday, January 16, 2015
Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
The dill plant flowering.
Photograph courtesy of ekenitr.
The taste of dill.
I am not a great fan of strong aniseed tastes; however, dill is not aniseed. Dill is mild, and in marinades, soups and sauces it adds a light aniseed accent that I do like. The French will use the feathery dill leaves to marinate salmon and to flavor other fish dishes.
Photograph courtesy of John and Anni.
Fresh dill leaves, surprisingly, have a lighter taste than the same leaves in their dried form. Dill leaves and their seeds, which are their fruits, are available fresh or dried. Dill leaves are milder than the seeds and so more likely to be used on their own in herbal butters, herbal vinegar or to flavor salads. Dill seeds are used as a salt substitute, for pickling, and to flavor pastries.
Dill on French menus:
Barbecuing tiger prawns flavored with dill.
Photograph courtesy of avlxyz.
Escalope de Veau Panée, Sauce Crémeuse à l’Aneth et Citron – A breaded veal scallop/escalope served with a cream sauce flavored with dill and lemon.
Petites Tartelettes au Thon, Chèvre Frais et Aneth – Small tuna fish tarts, made with fresh goat’s cheese flavored with dill.
Salade de Carpe Fumée Maison, Crème Citronnée à l’Aneth et Œufs de Lumps - A salad of home-made smoked carp; served with a lemon flavored cream sauce with added dill and lumpfish eggs. N.B.: Lumpfish eggs are called lumpfish caviar outside of France. In France the only fish eggs that may be called caviar are those that come from the sturgeon.
Dill marinated salmon.
Photograph courtesy of krakatoa.
Saumon Mariné à l'Aneth – Salmon marinated in dill. When this dish is well-made and thinly sliced then it is the only dish I know that can compete with the best smoked salmon for flavor and texture.
Dill and Fennel.
Dill’s green stalks, leaves and seeds look like a smaller version of fennel. That is not too surprising as they are both members of the same family. However, dill is the spice of choice for recipes when a light aniseed touch is needed. Fresh dill keeps well in a refrigerator, but when fresh dill is not available, unlike many other spices which lose their flavor, dried dill is an acceptable alternative.
The origin of dill is disputed. Some herb and spice experts will tell you that dill originated in Europe and others in Central Asia. In Europe the Ancient Romans and Greeks used dill in many recipes. From those two countries, you may see how the taste for dill progressed with recipes including dill spreading throughout the Mediterranean. In Asia, India has its own variety of dill called Sowa.
Wherever dill originated it was certainly one of the Old World exports to the New World. In North America dill leaves are marketed as dill weeds; however, dill weeds are dried dill leaves, and they certainly are not weeds.
The origin of dill’s English name.
The English name dill comes from the Scandinavia where the words, dill, dild, dila, are all words that indicate calm. French and other homeopathic doctors prescribe dill to calm an upset stomach and other disorders.
Cucumber salad with onions and fresh dill.
Photograph courtesy of abbyladybug
Dill and aniseed.
Dill’s two other French names, Faux Anis and Fenouil Bâtard will not be seen on menus. For those seeking real aniseed in France it is called Anis and Anis Vert. Star Anise, the star shaped fruit of the Chinese Aniseed flavored spice is called Anis Étoile and Badiane. Star anis is the spice used for aniseed flavor in Chinese and other Asian cuisines.
Not from France.
One of America's favorite pickles, the kosher dill.
Photograph courtesy of magpiebride.
Dill in the languages of France’s neighbours: (Catalan – anet), (German - dill, gurkenkraut), (Italian – aneto), (Spanish - hinojo hediondo, abesón, aneldo, eneldo).
Dill in other languages:
(Chinese (Mandarin) -歐洲蒔蘿 ōu zhōu shì luó, 蒔蘿 shì luó), (Dutch – dille), (Greek – Άνηθος, anithos)m (Hebrew- shevet rehanee, shamir, שבת ריחני, שמיר ), (Japanese -ディル, イノンド, siru, inondo), (Korean -딜, 이논드, tir, inondu), (Malay - adas china, adas pudus, ender), (Norwegian – dill), (Polish - koper ogrodowy), (Portugues – endro, aneto),(Rumanian - mărar), (Russian – Укроп, ukrop), (Ukranian - kріп, kріп запашний, yкріп, kопер, krip, krip zapashnyj, ukrip, koper). With thanks to Gernot Katzer and his spice pages for the many translations and other assistance. See Gernot Katzer's website at: http://gernot-katzers-spice-pages.com/engl/
Enjoying Veal in France II - Escalope de Veau or Paillard de Veau. A Veal Cutlet, Escalope, Escallop or Scallop.
Other herbs and spices from behind the French Menu:
Basil, Common Basil or Sweet Basil. Basilic or Herbe Royal; Herbs and Spices in the French Kitchen II.
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2015.
For information on the book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman