Simple Sole With Lemon Caper Sauce


This fish dish looks fancy and tastes complex but it's surprisingly simple to prepare. You just need one skillet and a handful of ingredients that you may already have on hand: onion, garlic, lemon, oregano, and capers.

A dish this simple begs for variations so feel free to experiment. If you don't have or don't like capers, try olives or anchovies. I used oregano but you could use thyme or basil or marjoram. This time I used red scallions but other times I've used shallot or leek instead. I've also substituted preserved lemon for fresh lemon and even halibut for sole. Each variation is different, but they're all good.

To make the sauce, I used a dry white wine. If you prefer a wine-free sauce you can substitute fish or seafood stock, vegetable broth, fresh chopped tomato (which dissolves into a sauce), or extra lemon juice and a splash of water. If you do add wine, use one you would drink. I used a Seyval Blanc from the Finger Lakes. It's subtle citrus undertones pair perfectly with fish and I served the rest of the bottle with the finished dish.

After you cook the fish and transfer it to a serving plate, I recommend covering it and using the same pan to quickly sauté some chopped greens like Swiss chard with a pinch of sea salt and any residual sauce. It takes just a few minutes and goes great with the sole.

3 tbsp grass-fed or organic butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced red scallions (green parts too)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup drained capers 
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves or 1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 organic lemon
1 pound Dover sole fillets

Melt the butter in a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until just aromatic, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the capers, oregano, white wine, and a pinch each of sea salt and ground pepper. Zest the lemon into the pan, then cut it in half and juice one half into the pan as well. Reserve the other half.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until reduced and thickened by half. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Season the sole fillets with sea salt and ground pepper. Arrange them on top of the sauce and cover the skillet. Cook the fish over low heat until they flaky and cooked through. Do not over-cook the fish. You can cook thin fillets in just a few minutes without flipping them, which agrees with their delicate nature. Thicker fillets can be flipped gently after 3 or 4 minutes, then cooked until done.

Carefully transfer the sole fillets to serving plates and top with the sauce.