Sautéed Petrale Sole in Herb Butter Sauce

Pacific petrale sole fillets, quickly sauteed and served with a sauce of white wine, shallots, butter, and herbs.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh petrale sole fillets
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp, cut into 4 pieces, cold, unsalted butter
  • Fresh thyme leaves (or any fresh herb for flavor)
  • Minced fresh chives
  • Lemon wedges (use Meyer lemons if available)


1 Pat the sole fillets dry with paper towels. There is a lot of moisture in petrale sole, so you might have to pat them dry twice. Lightly salt the fillets on both sides.

2 Heat oil in a large, stick-free skillet on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the fillets to the pan. Brown the fillets gently on both sides.

Fish is cooked when it flakes easily and is no longer translucent. Sole fillets will cook up very quickly, no more than a few minutes on each side, so don't walk away from the pan while cooking. Once done, remove the fillets from pan and place on a warm plate.

3 Add shallots to the pan and sauté until soft. Deglaze the pan with white wine and scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Add butter and gently swirl to make a sauce. Add herbs, and squeeze a little lemon juice into the sauce. Spoon over the sole.

Serve immediately.

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  • Jay

    Large sole, head off. Poach in large frypan with lid and a twisted ring of 7 lemongrass leaves, one pat of butter, one teaspoon rocksalt. 3 minutes simmer, remove to plate, skin and lift fillets off to a hot plate. The lemongrass removes the overly fishy flavour.

  • Carol Miranda

    Lenten season here in Mumbai India, most catholic homes eat only fish on Fridays now with the global situation try to eat only veg. during Lent and no alcohol till Easter. But one favourite dish was mackerel marinated with lemon juice and slit in the middle, stuffied with a masala paste of marinated onions, chili powder, tamarind and turmeric and the fish is tied and then pan fried on low heat on both sides. Simply divine with crusted brown bread. !

  • Mary

    Elise, I prepare tilapia like this quite often; it’s a great quick meal, and with fresh herbs growing on my patio, I can always pick something a little different to change the recipe just a bit. Love it!

    Teresa, I just tried your layered recipe, and WOW, it was awesome! Here were my variations:
    *I used salmon filets because they were on sale (don’t we love a good salmon sale??)
    *I added some sliced garlic on top of the spinach.
    *I placed lemon slices on top of the fish.
    *I added a little white wine to the sauce.
    At about 1/2 cup total liquid, I think I started with a little too much liquid because my spinach boiled instead of steaming, but the flavor was fantastic, so we didn’t mind.
    Next time, I would really make the fennel layer very substantial or maybe even add a star anise. It added such an interesting flavor to the sauce, and I think I want to try to bring it out a little more next time. I say pack that skillet base with the fresh fennel!

    I’ll definitely be making this again soon, maybe with a white fish next time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Dio

    With all of these delicious recipes, I can’t believe no one has suggested en papillote fish, fish wrapped in parchment paper or foil.

    Take out squares of parchment paper or foil. Lightly drizzle EVOO over the center. Place vegetables on the bottom (think asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, green beans, anything flavorful and good steamed), place your white fish on top of this. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and any fresh herbs you happen to have. Seal up tightly, put in a preheated 400 degree oven and cook for fifteen minutes. Super easy, super healthy, fast, and almost no cleanup!

    One of my favorites: Layer of asparagus, fish, a few grinds of black pepper and a pinch of salt, two slices of tomato, and a few thin leafs of lemongrass. Perfect everytime!

    This works with chicken, too, but you just have to increase the cooking time.

  • Grace

    We are catholic too and still have meatless fridays. I am a granny now and this custom is still observed in the children’s families.
    A special lenten dish is baked whole red snapper. It is a very easy dish.
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    Stuff a whole snapper with a mixture of 4 chopped garlic cloves, 1 thinly sliced lemon, and 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley ( preferably flat leaf italian). Place in a baking dish and surround with Drained roma tinned tomatoes, 4 chopped garlic cloves, an additional 1/2 cup minced parsley and 1/2 cup dry white wine.
    Sear uncovered in the hot oven for 10 minutes.
    Reduce heat to 350
    Remove from oven then cover with foil ( Carefully it will be very hot). Roast until done. Times vary according to size of fish/ I would wait 20 minutes before checking.
    If it is not lent and I am feeling festive I would stuff with hand peeled shrimp and bay scallops. Lent is a time of some reflection so we try to keep dishes delicious but simple :)

  • Allison

    I recently moved from New York to Berkeley, and now petrale is everywhere! I’ve never seen it in NY, and I’m so happy to now have a simple recipe for it, where the freshness of the fish can come through.
    My family’s lent tradition was a fish sauce, usually made up of squid, clams, mussels, shrimp and whichever white fillets looked best at the market. It was actually a very similar sauce to that of Christmas eve with the 7 fishes.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  • beth

    Fish tacos are a staple in our house. We use tilapia and season with tons of cumin, cilantro and jalepenos, then serve in flour tortillas with tomatillo salsa or homemade spicy pickled shredded carrots and red onion.

  • Angela

    I love to cook with wine, however, the recipe usually only calls for a cup or less and then I am left with the rest of the bottle. I am personally not a big wine drinker, so the leftover wine hangs around. How long does wine stay good for cooking if I replace the cork and put it in the fridge? Also, does red go bad faster than white?

    We drink wine up so fast I have no idea how long it lasts in the fridge. What you can do with extra wine though is to freeze it, in an ice cube tray, and then store the cubes in a freezer bag. When you need wine for a recipe, just pull out a frozen cube or two. ~Elise

  • Garrett

    Tilapia with fresh basil and lemon juice. Simple, tasty, and increbily affordable. May try it this way next time. ;)

  • Yana

    Our fave fish recipe is actually based on the chicken piccata recipe you have on your site. Every time I look for it, I start by going to the seafood section of your blog and then wonder why I can’t find the fish piccata!
    Obviously very similar to the above except with capers and far more lemon.

  • Michelle

    One of our favs around here, which is also so simple, uses cod.
    Mix together
    1/4 cup soya sauce,
    3 Tbsp lemon juice,
    1-2 Tbsp melted butter,
    about half an onion, chopped
    1 tsp – 1 Tbsp dill (we use fresh when we’ve got it – such an improvement in flavor).
    Put 4 cod fillets in a shallow baking dish, cover with the above mixture, and bake at 450F until fish flakes easily with a fork – depending on fresh or frozen anywhere between 15-25 minutes.

    Wish I had your sole recipe just last week – had a big bag of frozen sole from Costco that I gave my mom in law because we just couldn’t find a recipe we liked enough to use them up! I know, I know, frozen just isn’t the same, but being in the frozen middle of the continent, “fresh” isn’t always the freshest option.

  • darren

    One of my favorites is fish meuniere. It is so simple and so good.

    Season your fillet with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour. Heat a couple of tablespoons of butter in a skillet until it starts to brown. Cook your fish on each side until done. Plate the fish. Then add a couple of more tablespoons of butter to the skillet. Heat until it begins to brown take off heat and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and some chopped parsley. Whisk together and pour over the fish.

    I love just about anything with brown butter, thanks! ~Elise

  • Terry Stimson

    Our household doesn’t drink alcohol, I notice that a lot of great sounding recipes call for a wine of sorts. I cannot see buying several wines and having them lay around forever. Is there a substitute that I can use?

    You can often use stock, with a little lemon juice for acidity as a substitute. It really depends on the recipe. In this case I might use clam juice, again with a little lemon juice. ~Elise

  • Trish in MO

    I live in a rural area, and doubtful to find petrale sole. What are a couple of substitutes, please? Also, is this a ‘bony’ fish? I adore fish and would have it several times a week, if I could convince my family of the same. BUT, one of the toughest hurdles is the bones issue.

    Also, what is a Meyer lemon?


    Cod, or even trout, would be a good substitute. This fish isn’t particularly bony. A Meyer lemon is a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange. It has a thinner peel and is sweeter than a regular lemon, though still tart overall. ~Elise

  • Katie

    Ok.. I will try and make this short… but my favourite way to make fish… I usually use red snapper or yellow tail.. it is what we most often get fresh from the fishermen!

    Get a large frying pan, wok size.. flat bottom.

    Layer the following ingredients:

    1. Fennel (Sliced)
    2. Onions I like to use vidalia when they are in season
    3. Sprinkle slices of fresh ginger and garlic on top.
    4. Add a lot of fresh baby spinach washed and dried.
    Then add your fish. I layer the number of flillets one or one half per person depending on the size.
    5. Season with salt and pepper.
    6. Sprinkle on top.. Fish Sauce, Chili Oil, Ginger flavoured soy sauce… all to taste. don’t be stingy as they will mix with the liquid from the fish and spinach to make the most amazing sauce.

    Put lid on pan cook, steaming until fish is cooked through and spinach is wilted. Med to low heat!

    I serve this with Jasmine rice seasoned with cilantro.

    I have never measured this, I make loads of alterations depending on what is fresh and what I have to hand! It is always fantastic!

    If it is lent.. this, mac n cheese or tuna casserole! (with potato chips on top of course!)

    That recipe sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing. ~Elise

  • Teresa

    If you like them, put a couple tablespoons of drained capers into the pan sauce when deglazing the pan they add a nice tart flavor.