Sole Fingers with Green Herb Sauce

See the RecipeMichael Ventura

Fried "fingers" of sole, called goujonnettes in France, are traditionally dredged in flour and served with fried parsley. We got this adaptation of the original from Patrick O'Connell, chef and co-owner of the Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia, who gave the dish a Southern spin by using cornmeal and collards.

Sole Fingers with Green Herb Sauce
The use of cornmeal and collards gives a Southern spin to these goujonnettes, French fried 'fingers" of sole.
Yield: serves 4

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1⁄2 cups coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1⁄2 cups coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1⁄2 cups coarsely chopped watercress
  • 1⁄4 cups coarsely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 tbsp. capers, drained
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SOLE:

  • 12 medium collard leaves, washed and dried
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 boneless skinless filets dover or lemon sole or flounder, each cut in half crosswise, then cut lengthwise into 1"-wide strips
  • 2 lemons, cut in half

Instructions

  1. For the sauce: Purée dill, parsley, watercress, tarragon, capers, mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, and 1⁄4 cup water together in the jar of a blender until smooth, 1–2 minutes. Strain sauce through a fine sieve into a small bowl, cover, and set aside.
  2. For the sole: Cut tough center rib out of each collard leaf and discard. Stack leaves on top of one another, cut into very thin strips, and set aside. Put cornmeal into a wide medium dish, season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside. Pour oil into a deep medium pot to a depth of 1" and heat over medium-high heat until temperature reaches 350° on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile, put buttermilk into a wide bowl; add fish, mixing until well coated, and set aside.
  3. Working in small batches, deep-fry collards in hot oil until crisp, 25–30 seconds, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain; season to taste with salt and set aside. Thoroughly dredge 1 piece of fish at a time in seasoned cornmeal, shaking off excess. Deep-fry several pieces of breaded fish at a time in the hot oil, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp, 2 1⁄2–3 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  4. Divide collards among four warm plates. Arrange one-quarter of the fish on top of collards on each plate. Serve with sauce and lemon halves on the side.