[Brill; Eopsetta jordani]
This righteye flounder is native to the North Pacific coastal region
from Southern California at the Mexican border and north around the
Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It can can grow to 27 inches long and 8
pounds but the photo specimen was 17 inches and 1 pound 5 ounces, a
typical market size. This fish is mainly an incidental catch off the
Pacific coast from northern Baja to the Bering Sea coast of Alaska,
but there is a designated fishery in Oregon.
It is not considered threatened, Red List status LC
(Least Concern), but in 2009 it was declared overfished off the
Petrale Sole is considered one of the best eating fish on the California coast so fetches a fairly high price. It's flesh is white, mild and very tender and flaky. It makes a good substitute for European sole, but keep the cooking simple and the sauces unaggressive or you might as well save your money and use Tilapia. It is definitely not a soup or stew fish - it would just fall apart.
Petrale is often pan fried, slowly in butter, or broiled or baked. It can be steamed or lightly poached, but the pieces should be kept moderate and poaching time very short (4 minutes) or it will break up in handling.
Buying: These fish are often to be found in the large Asian fish markets here in Los Angeles. I suggest buying whole fish, as fillets could be anything - mislabeling is rampant for the more expensive fish, even in sushi bars.
Method: The photo examples below feature a California Halibut, but there is very little difference (except the California Halibut can get a lot bigger).
Scales: This fish has medium size scales on both sides. Adhesion is fairly good, so they need a little effort to scrape off, and some scales may need to be shaved off, as shown in the photo.
Cleaning: This fish is easy to clean - there isn't
a whole lot in it. It is so large you probably won't be cooking it
head-on, so just remove the head and you can scoop everything out
easily. Pull the gills out of the head if you will be making stock.
Filleting: This fish is very easy to fillet. First
make the usual cuts to remove the head. Next make a cut down the center
to the backbone. Except right up near the head, just follow the lateral
line. Next, outline the fillet by cutting in from fin edges through the
skin at a very shallow angle.
Fillet from the backbone outward for the bottom fillet. Try to stay on
the right side of the fin rays, but If you should get under them, just
deepen your fin edge cuts until they meet the main cut. You can do the
same for the top fillet, but I find it easier to cut from the fin inward
like for round fish, Do the same for the blind side. Unlike some flat
fish, this fish is quite meaty on the blind side due, to the amount of
time it spends hunting off the bottom. You should be easily able to
produce a "see through" skeleton.
Skin: The skin has very moderate shrinkage so fillets can be fried skin-on - in fact you can even poach skin on and the skin will barely distort the meat, then it becomes very soft. If desired, the skin can be removed fairly easily using the long knife and cutting board Method. The raw skin is quite strong, so you can use a fairly steep angle so you take no flesh. You will lose the edge where it covered the fin rays, as you can see in the photo, but that isn't a lot of meat. Just add it to the stock pot along with the skins - or fry it as a snack for the cook, eaten with a few drops of lemon juice.
Yield: A 3 pound 14 ounce (factory cleaned) fish
yielded 2 pound 9 ounces of skin-on fillet (66%). Skin off was2 pound
4-1/2 ounces (58%). A guts-in fish would be more like 53% and 41%,
still pretty good yield.
Stock: The heads, bones and fins of this fish make a
mild, very usable stock. Be sure to pull the gills from the head as they
can make a stock bitter. You can include the skins if you have removed
them from the fillets. For details see our
Fish Stock page.
The stock will have a significant amount of oil, which you should remove
using your gravy separator.