I recently had to replace my copy of Mastering The Art of French Cooking because the spine had split and the pages were falling out. While flipping through my shiny new copy I came across a sauce Adrienne and I had never made: Sauce Parisienne. I don’t know why we never made it but it sounded like something I should try, at least once! It is a reduction of the liquid you use to poach fish – either stock or wine and water – a roux of flour and butter, egg yolk and cream. The result is a subtle taste of fish from the poaching liquid and lushness from the egg yolk and cream.
In Mastering, Julia suggests after dressing the fish fillets with the sauce you sprinkle them with cheese and finish under the broiler. That was the Old School part which I abandoned after testing it. But the sauce itself was delicious and easy – which is what we all want!
I ordered Dover Sole from our fishmonger and served it with the sauce, boiled potatoes and green beans that you see in the picture above. The sauce will keep in the fridge – I didn’t try freezing it – and works beautifully on fish cakes and even sea bass fillets.
Retro sauce for fish with a subtle taste and lush texture
In an enameled saucepan boil down the poaching liquid, or wine and stock, until it is reduced to about 1 cup.
In a saucepan melt the butter, blend in the flour and cook slowly, stirring while they foam and froth together for about 2 minutes. Do not allow it to color. Off heat beat in the 1 cup of hot liquid, then the milk. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute until sauce is very thick.
Blend the yolks and cream in a mixing bowl. Beat in dribbles of the hot sauce until a cup has been added (This acclimatizes the egg to the hot liquid and prevents it from scrambling). Beat in the rest of the hot sauce in a thin stream. Return to moderately high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes to a boil. Continue stirring for 1 minute or until the sauce coats the spoon nicely. If too thick you can thin with a bit of cream or milk. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Strain and serve over Dover Sole or Flounder fillets. Leftover sauce will keep refrigerated for up to a week. Reheat gently; do not microwave.
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