Petrale sole is not actually a sole. It belongs to the flounder family, and some call it Pacific flounder or right-eyed flounder. The fish is caught all along the West Coast of the U.S and Canada.
I like this fish for its simplicity. There is nothing royal about it like the salmon or the halibut. Just a mild-flavored white fish but with enough texture and flavor qualities to be enjoyed.
I like the fact that it’s wild and local (on the West Coast), and considering the sky-high prices of other wild fish, petrale is reasonably priced.
The somewhat disappointing fact about petrale is its relatively low content of omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids, compared to salmon or sardines. 100gr (about three ounces) have 0.2gr EPA and DHA combined. Compare that to 1.5 of EPA and DHA combined in wild salmon.
However, it still provides some omega-3, and it’s still a good source for wild-animal protein, fat, and other nutrients. Besides, it’s available during the winter when you can only dream about wild salmon (unless pre-frozen), and I’m a big believer in eating what’s available in your surroundings. I admit not to be the most hard-core environmentalist around, and yet shipping or flying fish halfway around the world to my dinner plate makes me feel very uncomfortable.
A huge plus petrale has is its low mercury content, something you should be very aware of in a fish-rich paleo diet.
So I like this fish, for its humility and fidelity. As for all fish, here too, I prefer a gentle method of cooking. No aggressive browning or searing. Generally, fish are a delicate ingredient, and not just from a culinary standpoint, but also nutritionally. Omega 3 fatty acids are very heat-sensitive and with exposure to high heat can become oxidized, something that has been shown to damage cells in the body. Gentle cooking with little liquids, short roasting in the oven, or steaming, are the best ways to go.
You’re going to need:
For the fish-
- 1-pound wild petrale sole fillets
- 2 Tbs. coconut oil
- 1 bunch chopped spring onions.
- 3Tbs. organic Tamari soy sauce
For the mashed sweet potatoes-
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 2-3 Tbs. grass-fed organic butter
- 1 garlic clove
Start with the sweet potatoes.
I like to steam the sweet potatoes. The steaming process preserves the nutrients in the sweet potatoes as opposed to boiling them in water where some of the nutrients can leach into the water and be lost. Also leave the skin on. The skin has a much greater nutrient density than the flesh itself.
Use a small amount of water for the steaming – 1 cup of water is enough. Steam the sweet potatoes and garlic until very soft, about 10-12 minutes.
Put the sweet potatoes and the garlic in a dry pot and add the butter. Add natural salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Mash the sweet potatoes, butter, and garlic well. Stir with a silicone spatula and make sure to scrape all the leftovers from the pot insides.
Start with the fish while the sweet potatoes are being steamed. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large skillet or baking pan, lay the fish fillets side by side. Salt the fish and grind pepper over it, distributing salt and pepper equally all over the fillets.
Sprinkle a few drops of Tamari soy sauce equally, all over the fillets.
Scatter the green onions on the fillets.
Pour the coconut oil all over the fillets, making sure the whole surface of the fish is covered with oil. And yes – use your fingers. If you live in a cool place like I do, or it is wintertime, your coconut oil is probably solid. In that case, put the oil in a small skillet over low heat. The oil will melt in seconds, ready for pouring.
Put the fish in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Petrale doesn’t contain much fat and can be overcooked. If you’re not sure, try the fish after 6-7 minutes in the oven by poking it with a small knife. See if it’s cooked all the way through. If it’s still pinkish inside, put it back in the oven for 2-3 more minutes. The fish should be all white and cooked, yet tender and flaky.