This is a wonderful salad topped with a fillet of sole and drizzled with a vinaigrette made with Frey Dessertage Port, a flavorful organic sweet wine. The sole is best if fresh, when it smells like scallops.
Carolyn Dismuke will be showcasing the creative ways of cooking with Dessertage Port atDrinkThoseWords.com in the coming months. Be sure to check it out!
Pouring on the Dessertage Vinaigrette to the Sole Salad.
1 lb. sole fish (vegan alternative: portobello mushroom, 4 large caps)
pepper, coarsely ground
1 cup & 6 tablespoons Frey Dessertage Port organic sweet wine
2/3 cup & 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large head red butter lettuce
½ cup raw pecans
1/2 red onion
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger root
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 blood orange
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Marinating the sole fillets with Dessertage Port.
1. Let’s get the sole marinating in the Dessertage Port by first laying out the fillets in a dish. (Vegan alternative: use 4 large caps of portobello mushrooms and prepare the same way). With a sharp knife slice into the fillets about halfway through, each slice half inch apart. This will allow the marinade to seep in better. Sprinkle a large pinch of salt, pinch of pepper. Then drizzle over the fillets 4 tablespoons Frey Dessertage Port, followed by drizzling 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Let them marinade while preparing the rest of the salad. Return every few minutes to spoon the marinade back over them again.
2. Now to the head of red butter lettuce. I like to take a knife and cut out the core from the bottom so the leaves peel off easily. Rinse and dry in a salad spinner. Then tear into smaller pieces. I prefer red butter lettuce leaves about 3 inches long, somewhat big. Set aside.
3. Time to toast the raw pecans: chop them up and put them in a dry pan on low heat. Don’t forget about them because they will burn quickly. It’s best to stay with them until done, stirring frequently on low heat. You know they’re ready after a few minutes when they release that distinct toasty aroma, and they darken a little.
Flambéing the toasted oats!
Now, with 2 tablespoons of Dessertage Port at the ready, crank the heat up to high and quickly pour it in to flambé the toasted pecans. If you have a gas stove, tip the pan so the Port catches the flame and lights up, or use a match. After the flames die out, turn the heat back to low and simmer off the Port. The pecans will burn if left on high, so please do turn the heat down! Stir until the pecans are dry and coated with a sweet layer of caramelized Dessertage. It will take a few minutes. Then spread the pecans out on a plate and set aside to cool.
(Remember to take time out now and then to spoon the marinade over the fillets again!)
4. Now let’s make the Dessertage Port Vinaigrette: in a pot pour in 1 cup of Dessertage Port, 2 tablespoons minced red onion, and 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger. We’re going to make the reduction for the base of our Dessertage Vinaigrette by bringing this to a boil and reducing it until there’s about ¼ cup left and it’s syrupy. It will take a few minutes.
Remove the reduction from heat, let it cool down a little, pour into a bowl with a whisk at the ready, then add 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and a pinch or two of salt. While whisking continuously, very slowly pour in 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil, just a thin stream. When the pouring is finished, it should be thick and creamy and take on a gorgeous crimson hue, like a Hawaiian sunset. You may also do it in a snap using a Cuisinart. But like the furniture maker who eschews electric tools for the sake of a forgotten art, I often prefer to do these steps by hand. I practice my old techniques, and it’s good exercise! Each time I grab a whisk I recall a chef instructor at the California Culinary Academy years ago who would yell out, “Whisk it! Whisk it good! Whisk it ‘til your arms fall off!”
Very slowly pour in the vinaigrette while whisking.
5. Before cooking the fillets, let’s get the rest of the salad ingredients ready by cutting four thin slices of red onion, 4 thin slices of blood orange, and slice up completely the avocado. I like to serve the fillets piping hot over the salad, so let’s now get the beds of lettuce ready, spread out over the four separate plates.
6. It’s time to cook the marinated sole fillets Put 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a pan on medium heat to get it nicely coated. Put in the fillets They will cook quickly, about 2 minutes.
Place the fillets on each of the four beds of lettuce. (For the portobello vegan alternative, slice up the cooked mushrooms before laying them on the bed of lettuce.) Quickly arrange the rest of the salad ingredients to the delight of your artistic whims: the rings of raw onion, the slices of blood orange and avocado. Drizzle on the Dessertage Vinaigrette. And finally, sprinkle on the toasted pecans.
Watch out for the bones. Bon appétit!
(Recipe & images copyrighted © Tamara Frey, 2013. All right reserved.)