Coconut Crusted Sole with Fresh Tomato Sauce


This is a healthy way to fry fish and a good use of summer tomatoes.
I used coconut oil because it can withstand high temperature cooking, and a flour-free coating made of dried coconut, fresh lemon zest, and fresh basil leaves. The end result is a flavorful, delicate, crispy crust that compliments perfectly the delicate Dover sole.

If you don't have Dover sole, you can use any non-toxic and sustainably harvested white fish or even shrimp. You can also substitute an organic lime for the lemon. If your citrus fruit isn't organic, omit the zest.

I've made this dish with and without a layer of beaten egg beneath the coconut coating. The egg wash helps the coating stick a little bit better, but in my opinion the real benefit is the difference in flavor. I can't explain why, but the finished dish tasted notably coconuttier when I added the egg wash.

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
16 medium fresh basil leaves (about 2 tbsp, packed) plus more for garnish
1 organic lemon, zested and cut into wedges
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground mixed peppercorns or substitute black pepper
2 tbsp cold-pressed coconut oil
1 egg (optional)
1 pound wild-caught Dover sole fillets, skinned and deboned, at room temperature
1 large tomato, diced into 1-centimeter cubes

In an electric grinder or food processor, pulse the coconut, basil, lemon zest, sea salt, and ground pepper until the mixture becomes a powder. Arrange it in a thin layer on a plate.

In a stainless steel or cast iron skillet, warm the coconut oil over medium heat until hot.

If you're using an egg wash, beat a whole egg with a pinch of sea salt and pour it into a shallow dish with the fish fillets. Pick up each fillet and allow any excess egg to drip off. Dip it into the coconut mixture and turn to coat it thoroughly. Place it directly into the hot skillet. It should sizzle if the oil is hot enough.

If you aren't using an egg wash, pat the fresh fish fillets mostly dry, then place each one in the coconut mixture and turn to coat it thoroughly before placing it directly into the hot skillet.

Cook the fish until the fillets are browned on one side, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip them over and cook them through, browning the other side of each fillet.

Once they're fully cooked, transfer the sole fillets to a serving plate and cover them to keep warm. Allow a little ventilation to prevent the crispy coating from getting soggy.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chopped tomato to the skillet with a pinch of sea salt. Stir to incorporate any brown bits on the bottom of the pan into the juices of the tomato. Cook until the tomato has softened and the sauce has reduced and thickened, about 3 or 4  minutes.

Pour the sauce over the fish and garnish it with fresh basil. Serve the sole immediately with fresh lemon wedges.