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Julia Child’s French Meal Called That Changed Your Life

Editor’s Note – CNN’s new movie ‘Julia’ tells the story of Julia Child, the legendary cookbook author and TV superstar who changed the way Americans think about food, TV and food. role of women in American life. Don’t miss the premiere on Monday, May 30 at 8 p.m. ET.
(CNN) — One meal forever changed Julia Child’s life and American kitchens with it. It was a soft, white-fleshed fish served in a buttery sauce.

The legendary American chef first set foot on French soil in 1948. She was in her late thirties and could not cook, at least not yet.

The child and her husband, Paul, stopped for lunch at La Couronne (“The Crown”) restaurant in Rouen, the capital of the northern region of Normandy.

For their first meal in France, Paul ordered oysters, sole meunière and a green salad. The child devoured the meal, calling it “perfection”.

“Julia describes the feeling of eating her first bite of real French food and literally falling in love with it in that moment – not realizing that it was the meal that changed her life,” he said at CNN.

What she ate that day was in strong juxtaposition to the meat and potatoes she grew up in California.

“It was my first French dish and I never got over it,” Child recalls in archive footage from CNN Films’ new documentary “Julia,” which premieres Monday, May 30 at 8 p.m. ET .

This unforgettable lunch inspired Child to dedicate his life to learning and teaching the world the wonders of French cuisine. In the middle of that first bite of sole, she had an epiphany.

“It occurred to me that this was what I had been looking for all my life. One taste of this food and I never looked back,” Child said.

“Julia said (she and Paul) were having so much fun they could barely catch their breath,” Prud’homme said. “She experienced a blossoming of the soul.”

“You just have to have the courage of your convictions,” said Julia Child during the filming of “The French Chef”. She was not ashamed of making mistakes. Don’t miss “Julia” this Monday, May 30 at 8 p.m. ET.

What was life changing about this meal?

Sole meunière, a seemingly simple dish, actually takes a lot of practice and technique to prepare.

The Dover sole is lightly dusted with salt, pepper and flour, then sautéed in a hot skillet with butter until the fish is crispy and golden. It is served in a brown butter (called beurre noisette) with a sprinkle of lemon and a sprinkle of crispy fresh parsley by the sizzling sauce. Just like Child, Prud’homme likes to add capers.

“People these days think, oh my God, about calories, but really, it’s all about flavor. It’s very light, delicate and beautiful,” Prud’homme said, calling the dish “magical “.

He suggested a green salad with a tangy vinaigrette, a buttered baguette and a glass of white wine to accompany the fish. The child, who loved chocolate, finished his meal with a piece of chocolate cake or chocolate mousse.

As a legendary TV chef, Child wanted to share his passion for cooking with the world. She would say that no one is born knowing how to cook; it’s a skill you have to learn, just like riding a bike.

“She was more than just a cook and more than just an actress,” Prud’homme said. “She was truly groundbreaking. She changed the way Americans…view food in general – eating, cooking – and brought it to the masses in a new way.”

Child’s advice to cooks was to work hard, take risks, and above all, have fun. Lessons that apply to cooking, but also to building an incredible recipe for life.

Sole Meuniere

The fish should be browned on both sides. Be careful when flipping it in the pan.

It can be difficult to find a Dover sole. The fish comes only from the English Channel and other distant waters. You can find imported Dover sole at specialty fishmongers. Flatfish fillets such as flounder or “sole fillets” are suitable alternatives. Particularly good choices are gray sole, lemon sole, winter flounder, and yellowtail on the US East Coast; and petrale sole, rex sole and rock sole on the west coast.

You can also sauté small fillets (4-6 ounces each) of round fish like salmon, snapper, and bluefish. Whole small trout are another option. Saute only a minute or two on each side, until the skin is crispy and the flesh is just springy rather than mushy. Carefully flip the fillets so they don’t fall apart.

Makes 2 servings


For the fish

2 Dover soles, each about 1 pound

1⁄8 tsp salt

1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1⁄3 cup or more all-purpose flour, in a large flat dish or on waxed paper, for dredging

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the brown butter

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon capers, drained

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Special equipment

1 extra-large non-stick frying pan (over 12 inches in top diameter) or 2 large skillets

2 spatulas to turn the fish

1 medium saucepan for brown butter


2. Set the skillet or skillets over medium-high heat. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Just before cooking, holding the fish by the tail, dredge first one side, then the other, in flour. Press lightly to coat, then shake off excess. Swirl the oil and butter in the pan and, when the butter foam subsides, lay the fish in it, white skin side down. Repeat with the second fish.

3. Sauté until nicely browned on the first side, 4 to 5 minutes. Gently turn the fish over with the spatulas and sauté until crispy and golden, 4 to 5 minutes or more. To check for doneness, stick a sharp knife into the top tenderloin along the center line and gently poke to one side; the flesh should separate easily from the central bone and no pinkish color should be visible.

4. As soon as the fish is cooked, place it in a hot dish, skin side up, or in individual hot plates.

5. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley over each fish. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter in a clean medium saucepan over high heat. Watch the butter carefully as it melts, bubbles and begins to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and, as the butter takes on a nutty colour, stir in the capers and lemon juice and stir together.

6. Pour the sizzling butter over the 2 fish, crisping the parsley and serve immediately.

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