Except for authentic Dover sole, from the European side of the Atlantic, flatfish fillets are fragile once cooked. Since their skin isn’t very savory, it is best to remove it. Because they are thin, there is no point in trying to brown them using high heat. They will cook through in a minute. Instead, cook them in butter in a nonstick pan over medium heat. They can also be dusted with flour or coated with flour, beaten egg, and fresh bread crumbs (the same way as these chicken breasts) and cooked over medium to high heat in clarified butter. A long offset spatula is useful for turning the fillets.
– Four 6- to 8-ounce double fillets of sole, flounder, fluke, or skate, or eight 3- to 4- ounce single fillets, skin removed.
– 3 tablespoons butter or clarified butter.
Step 1:Season the fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. In a nonstick sauté pan just large enough to hold the fillets in a single layer, melt the butter over medium heat until it froths. Add the fillets, attractive side down, and turn up the heat. The idea is to keep the heat hot enough to evaporate any liquid released by the fish, but not so hot as to burn the butter. If you use clarified butter, you can turn the heat to high.
Step 2:As soon as you add the fillets, move the pan gently back and forth on the burner for 30 seconds to keep the fish from sticking. Cook the fillets for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on their thickness. Then turn them over gently with an offset spatula, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until they feel firm to the touch. Serve immediately on warmed plates.