Sautéed Petrale Sole in Herb Butter Sauce

LentenGluten-FreeLow CarbFish and Seafood

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

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Raised Catholic, I grew up eating fish every Friday (not just during Lent as the custom goes these days). Often it was just a simple tuna macaroni salad, but we kids were exposed to a variety of fish and seafood on a regular basis.

Thank goodness! We still eat fish almost every Friday (old habits die hard) and are always looking for new ideas to cook with the fresh fish we find at the market.

Here is a recipe for petrale sole (a Pacific flounder) that is served with a quick sauce made with shallots, white wine, and butter. You could use this sauce over any mild fish fillet.

Do you have a preferred way of preparing sole fillets? Or other Lenten dishes? If so, please let us know about it in the comments.

Sautéed Petrale Sole in Herb Butter Sauce Recipe

  • 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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Adapted from a recipe in a newsletter from Paul Martin's Bistro.

Showing 4 of 16 Comments / Reviews

  • 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 :)

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