Friday, June 3, 2011

Jamie Oliver's The Nicest Pan-Baked Sole (or Rather The Nicest Pan-Baked Tofu!)

The dilemma: it's Something's Fishy! at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week--featuring Jamie Oliver's fish and seafood recipes and here I had vowed to spend another month eating vegan. What to do? Skipping IHCC for the week wasn't a good option for me, nor was breaking out of the current vegan groove I am in to cook a fish dish. So I settled on adapting one of Jamie's fish recipes and using tofu instead of fish. Yep, I am crazy like that. ;-) Tofu often gets a bad rap because of its lack of taste, but that actually makes it the perfect blank canvas to add a bunch of flavor. Jamie's recipe for "The Nicest Pan-Baked Lemon Sole" seemed like a great choice for a swap out. Baked with lemon, balsamic vinegar, herbs like basil and parsley, sweet cherry tomatoes, briny olives (and a couple of tablespoons of capers that just happened to fall in), and served over a wild rice blend, it made an easy and tasty dinner.

This recipe can be found at Jamie's website or in Jamie's Dinners on pages 274-275. My changes are in red below.

Jamie says, "This recipe can be applied to any size of flat fish. Out of all the soles, lemon sole is the most widely available and generally good value for money. This method of cooking is really simple. Not only does it give you a really clean-tasting fish but it also gives you a juicy, chunky sauce with the added benefit of all the natural fish juices and olive oil. It’s really quick and easy and I would recommend serving the whole pan at the table with a big bowl of new potatoes, a mixed salad and some crisp white wine."

With a few triangles of tofu cut out, I had four cute little "tofishies" to enjoy ;-)
(This is the pre-baking photo)

The Nicest Pan-Baked Lemon Sole (or Tofu!)
Adapted from "Jamie's Dinners" by Jamie Oliver
(Makes 4 Servings)

4 whole lemon soles (I used a block of extra-firm organic tofu cut into 4 slices)
2 handfuls of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a handful of fresh oregano or basil, leaves picked (I used basil)
a bunch of spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, zested and halved
extra virgin olive oil
a handful of black olives, pitted and chopped (I used kalamata olives)
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
(I added 2 Tbsp of capers)

This is really simple. First of all give your fish a wash, then with a sharp knife score across each fish down to the bone at 1 inch intervals on both sides. This allows flavor to penetrate the fish and lets the fish’s juices come out. (Or if using tofu, take a block of extra-firm tofu and press the water out by draining tofu, wrapping it in a clean dishtowel and placing something heavy on top for 30 minutes. Next slice block in half and then cut each half into two pieces. You can create a fish shape if desired by cutting small triangles in the tofu pieces--see picture above. Lightly score across the top of each tofu piece, then turn over and repeat on the opposite side. Continue recipe as written.)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Get yourself a bowl and add the tomatoes, garlic, oregano or basil, spring onions, balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper and the zest and juice of 1 lemon to it. Loosen with a couple of good tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and mix well, then spread over the bottom of a large roasting pan. Use one that will fit all 4 fish quite snugly (or you can use two smaller pans). Place the fish on top – top to tail.

Now add the olives, parsley, juice and zest of the second lemon to the bowl that the tomatoes were in. Loosen with a little olive oil and then divide this mixture between the fish, placing an equal amount on the center of each. Cook in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the fish. To check whether they’re done, take the tip of a knife and push it into the thickest part of the fish. When done, the flesh will easily pull away from the bone. (I cooked the tofu about 18 minutes.)

Once cooked, remove the fish from the oven and allow them to rest for 3 or 4 minutes while you get your guests round the table, serve them some wine and dress your salad. Then you can come back to the fish. Divide them up at the table on to 4 plates, making sure that everyone gets some tomatoes and juice spooned over the top of the fish. Lovely!

Notes/Results: Really good. I am not going to say that it wouldn't be even better with a good piece of fish, ;-) but the ingredients worked well with the tofu and it had plenty of flavor from the lemon, herbs, and capers (the olives too, but I love my capers best), and the roasting brought out the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes, making it a nice combination. I think from a texture perspective next time I would bake the tofu separately first, so it gets a bit crispy and then add it to the mix. But all-in-all I thought my "tofishies" turned out pretty darn well. ;-) Healthy and good, I would make this one again--either with fish or with tofu.

You can check all the Something's Fishy! dishes at IHCC by going to the post and following the links.

Happy weekend!


  1. Wow! What a fantastic idea, to use tofu instead! The mixture of ingredients sounds really good and seem perfect to go with tofu! Great combination! Have a nice weekend!

  2. I love your tofu fishies. This sounds really tasty and very 'Jamie'.

  3. The tofu fishies are so cute! I think tofu's reputation is entirely unfair - I love it!

  4. What a great idea! The tofu fish are so cute!

  5. Tofishes! That's going to be my new favorite phrase. I think I'm going to use it in many sentences today.

    I love that you switched in some tofu! I'm sure it was delicious!

  6. great ad-lib :) love all those capers on top too!

  7. Your tofishies are too cute!

  8. Tofishes! Ha, ha! Love your substitution here. The recipe sonds great!

  9. Your Tofishies are so cute...and I love that you're crazy like that ;) I know I'd love this with the sole...and I bet I'd even love the tofish. Mmmmm. Such vibrant flavors!

  10. So cute! Love the tofishies. Great bold flavours too.

  11. Hi,

    Looks good!

    What is the purple colored 'stuff' looks like red onion? (purple Basil?)


  12. I just got the biggest smile on my face when I saw your tofishies! I just love how you cut the tofu into fish shapes:) Too cute!

  13. That is one beautiful, colorful platter of food! Great job adapting the recipe.

  14. Hi David,

    The purple "stuff" ;-) is kalamata olives. I used them instead of black olives as I had them on hand.

  15. Love the tofishies! What a great adaption, very clever and it looks delicious!

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. Still see something fishy at your plate;-) love them!


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