Vintage after vintage, our Wine of the Week, Whitehaven 2016 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc ($17) brings it home.
The wine is a beauty, with an enticing blend of citrus, especially white grapefruit and lemon, white peach, and a suggestion of minerality. You might notice little bursts of zucchini skin, green beans, nettles, young spinach and jalapeño, too. It’s a perfect summer quaffer but a wine you’ll want around in the winter months, too, as it is lovely with Dungeness crab and oysters on the half shell.
At the table, avoid anything big or bold, which means no balsamic vinegar, no red wine vinegar, and no tomatoes. Sweet peppers are not a good match, either, but green Gypsy peppers are nice with the wine, especially when combined with feta cheese and either brined green peppercorns or capers.
The wine is also a good match with avocados dressed with lemon, simple zucchini salads, Vietnamese noodle salads, and such seafood as scallops, clams, skate wing, and sanddabs, Herbs that most flatter the wine include chives, cilantro, and Italian parsley. To serve the wine with a salad, add French sorrel and dress the salad with just olive oil and lemon juice, along with salt and pepper, of course.
For today’s recipe, a traditional Petrale sole with butter, lemon and capers is paired with sautéed celery and spinach that is not cooked but rather wilts from the heat of the celery, fish and sauce, to create a truly magnificent pairing. Be sure not to overcook the fish and don’t skimp on the butter or the lemon juice. Taste before finishing the sauce and make sure it is properly salted, too.
Petrale Sole with Celery, Spinach, & Capers
4 petrale sole (or similar fish) fillets
½ cup seasoned all-purpose white flour in a shaker (see Note below)
8 ounces young spinach, rinsed
6-8 tablespoons butter, plus more as needed
4 celery stalks, cut into thin diagonal slices
4 teaspoons capers, drained if brined, rinsed if salted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley or cilantro
Set the fish fillets on a clean work surface and cover them generously with seasoned flour. Let rest for a minute or two and pat off excess flour. Set aside.
Cut the lemons in half crosswise. Cut one half into four pieces and set it aside. Juice,the remaining lemons and strain out the seeds. Set aside.
Divide the spinach among four dinner plates and season it lightly with salt. Set aside.
Set a heavy sauté over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter and, when it is melted, add the celery. Sauté, turning after about 1 minute, until it begins to soften and lose its raw crunch; do not let it get soft. Add a little spritz of lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, transfer to a small bowl, cover, and keep hot.
Return the sauté pan to medium-high heat, add two fillets and cook for about 2 minutes; turn and cook 2 minutes more; Spritz generously with lemon juice and swirl the pan.
Working quickly, top the spinach with some of the celery and set a fish fillet on top. Repeat with the two remaining fillets, adding more butter as needed.