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Sole Fillets in a Sweet-and-Sour Sauce


This is often served as an antipasto in Venice, but it makes a good main course, too. You can use flounder fillets instead of sole, or sardines, which must be boned but left in one piece, not divided into two fillets.

Serves 6 to 8

One third cup golden raisins
flour for dusting
One + half pounds sole fillets
oil for deep-frying
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced mild onions
2 tsp sugar
Half cup good wine vinegar
4 bay leaves
One third cup pine nuts
2 or 3 pinches of ground cinnamon
2 cloves
12 black peppercorns, lightly crushed


Soak the golden raisins in a little warm water to plump them. Meanwhile, spread some flour on a board and season with salt, then coat the fish lightly in the flour.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a wok or a skillet. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, slide in the sole fillets, a few at a time. Fry gently for about 3 minutes on each side until a golden crust forms. Using a pancake turner, transfer the fish to a plate lined with paper towels, to drain.

Heat the olive oil and onions in a small skillet. Add a pinch of salt and the sugar. Cook the onions gently, stirring frequently, until golden. Turn up the heat and pour in the wine vinegar, then boil briskly until the liquid reduces by half.

Lay the fish neatly in a shallow dish. Pour the onion sauce over and put the bay leaves on top. Drain the golden raisins and scatter them on top of the dish, together with the pine nuts, spices, and peppercorns.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap, and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours or, even better, for 48 hours.

Sogliole in Saor is one of the recipes in Anna del Conte's Gastronomy of Italy (Pavilion Books, ISBN: 1862051666, 29.95).
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