Dover Sole with Ancho Chile Cream Sauce

Dover Sole is about my favorite fish.  When fresh (or even freshly frozen), it is the sweetest tasting non-fishy fish in the world.  Or at least in my little section of it.  So if you read this recipe and think the sauce sounds too complicated, don’t make the sauce.  I normally bread and fry dover sole in a little olive oil and butter and serve with no sauce.  It is that good.

But I did a variant yesterday, and made a creamy ancho chile sauce with serrano peppers and mushrooms.  The sauce ended up tasting kind of like a Pontchartrain sauce – kind of a spicy cajun deal, and it was yummy. I could just see making this with some lump crabmeat or crawfish tails.  The red serrano peppers from my garden really helped with the visual appeal, in addition to jazzing up the spice content.
Fish fixins:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb Dover sold (fresh – or frozen fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile paste (see this blog 28 Mar 09 for recipe)
  • plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 stick butter
Heat olive oil and butter on medium heat.  It needs to be hot enough to where a drop of water flicked in there from your finger sizzles nicely. Beat eggs in a bowl, and add cumin and chile paste, and mix it all up nicely. Pour a bunch of bread crumbs onto a plate.  Dip the fish into the egg mixture, then dredge it through the bread crumbs. Place into the hot oil.  The level of oil and butter should be high enough to where the fish is almost submerged.  You’ll need to be careful handling the fish in the fryer because it will break up on you. You cannot just flip it with tongs, or you’ll end up with a mess on your hands. After 2-3 minutes (assuming there’s a lot of sizzling and bubbling going on), flip the fish.  I prefer to use a long spatula to minimize chances of breakage. The fish should be browned nicely. If you cook it on too low a heat, it can be a little soggy and greasy.
I can fit about a half a pound of filets in my iron skillet, so what I do to keep everything warm while i finish the job and make the sauce is put a cooling rack on a cookie sheet into a 200 degree oven and keep the fish warm there. I use the cooling rack to allow any excess oil to drain.
Run the fish through the oil until you’re finished – you should be able to do a pound in two batches. While the fish are frying, slice up mushrooms and serrano pepper, if you’re making the sauce.
Drain all but a tablespoon and a half of the oil.
The sauce
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 serrano pepper (red, if available) – or a red or yellow habanero
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup whipping cream or 1/2 cup Mexican sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • fresh ground black pepper
Saute the mushrooms in the oil for two or three minutes, until they look like you’d want to eat them. Add the serranos and give a stir. After about a minute, sprinkle flour into the mixture, stirring everything nicely so that it’s not too much of a paste, but the oil is about all soaked up. This will be anywhere from 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour, depending on how you eyeballed the remaining oil/butter mixture. Once you have a nice smooth liquidy paste, pour in the chicken broth and raise heat to high.  Stir in ancho chile paste and shake salt and cumin into the mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Let it simmer for a couple of minutes until it starts to reduce, then add crema Mexicana or whipping cream.   Give the pepper a few turns.  Taste the sauce – if it’s not hot enough (it depends if your ancho chile paste is pure ancho or if it’s the chipotle ancho blend i like to make), you can sprinkle some cayenne pepper into the mixture. Cook on medium-low heat until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. If too thin, just cook longer, too thick, add a little more broth.
I serve this with rice, as pictured, with roasted zucchini (to be blogged later). This will feed two hungry folks or three salad-eaters.

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