A Dinner Disaster – Baked Sole


_DSC0604Joy and I make it a rule NOT to post recipes on A Passionate Plate unless we feel they are truly worthy. We want our recipes to be the ones you trust! Well, as you know – not every recipe lives up to it’s promise. Sometimes results are less than stellar and the blog post, along with the leftovers, ends up in the trash. Normally I wouldn’t bother posting about a dinner disaster, but last night was so 100% horrible, I just have to tell you about it.

Consider this a public service announcement. A warning for the uninitiated. A lesson you will not have to learn the hard way.

Here goes… baked sole sucks. Yes, I said it. Even when you follow a kitchen tested recipe from Cooks Illustrated called Better Baked Sole. The question is, better than what? Cat food? Because, come on, I already knew that.

I had such high hopes for this dish. It sounded very healthy and full of flavor. The fillets were seasoned with a little dijon, fresh herbs from my garden, and a little garlic butter, then rolled, baked and finally topped with herbs and a panko crumb topping. The picture in the magazine looked beautiful.

SoleMy friend, Jackie, was joining us for dinner, and I felt confident she would appreciate this healthy entree that was almost (except for the panko) gluten-free.

Because this was a Cooks Illustrated recipe, I followed their instructions exactly, measuring everything and setting aside my own intuition. I pulled the fish from the oven, snapped a few photos and sat down at the table expectantly. Hmmm… undercooked fish that needed to go back in the oven. Not a good sign.

When we finally started eating, Marvin began to subtly push the fish around on his plate, breaking it into smaller pieces, spreading it out across as much surface area as possible.

Jackie said, “Uh oh, Marv is pushing the fish around on his plate.”

Marv said, “I think the mustard might have overpowered the fish.”

I said, “Come on, it’s not really that bad, is it?”

Jackie said, “It kind of reminds me of my Grammy’s cooking. Soft. You wouldn’t really need teeth to eat this.”

Marv said, “Nope, you definitely wouldn’t need teeth. Jackie, how about passing me the bread, please?”

I kept eating, hoping that half way through my piece something would change. That this recipe would turn from bland and mushy into something amazing. Something BLOG WORTHY! But, no, that didn’t happen.

All I can say is… thank goodness we cooked two pounds of asparagus to go with the fish. A plate full of asparagus makes a lovely dinner, especially when followed by Denali Moose Tracks chocolate ice cream – which, Jackie happily pointed out,  happens to be gluten-free.

Perhaps, living in Seattle where flavorful, meaty fish like salmon, cod, steelhead and halibut are so plentiful, a fish like sole just doesn’t have enough soul (I know, I know… sorry, but I couldn’t resist).

Bottom line is, I will not be making baked sole again.

If you are hungry for fish tonight, why not try one of these very blog-worthy recipes?

 Salmon Sashimi with Ginger and Hot Sesame Oil
Cod in Coconut Tomato Curry Sauce
Walnut Crusted Salmon Fillets
Oven Roasted Halibut with Caper Basil Sauce


  1. Colleen Stromatt says:

    Chicken would be fantastic!!!!

  2. Colleen Stromatt says:

    So fun to read about a flop! It does happen to all of us I guess! Thanks for the reminder about the halibut in caper sauce! The halibut is soooo good right now.

    • MaryMiller says:

      Hi, Colleen! Glad you enjoyed reading about my flop. My Uncle Dave, in Portland, OR, has already called with a recipe he swears will change my mind about sole. Not sure I am ready to try it yet, but I am going to try a version of this with chicken, which should be MUCH better.

  3. JoyAldrich says:

    Way to go, Mary! It sure looked pretty…

    We just went to Elliott Bay for fish & chips yesterday – awesome! – and we were recounting all the time we’d enjoyed the f&c down at that place on Alki before they started trying to trick us with Tilapia (instead of Halibut). I agree – NW folks are fish snobs and proud of it!

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