Crux Grenache blanc sings with Asian chicken salad
One way to think of our Wine of the Week, Crux, 2018 Catie’s Corner Vineyard, Russian River Valley Grenache Blanc ($30), is as a marriage between chardonnay and Viognier.
Qualities of both varieties infuse this lovely wine. There’s a bright floral quality to it, as if you are walking through an orchard of orange trees during their bloom. Hints of sweet spice move through those notes of orange blossom that, on the palate, resolve into flavors of ripe peaches, juicy nectarines and sweet limes.
Although the wine has a creamy texture, bright acidity pulls all the flavors together as the crisp lingering finish resolves into a quick desire for another sip.
At the table, the wine is a natural with rich seafood, from oily fish such as sardines and mackerel to such fragrant seafood stews as bouillabaisse. Salmon, too, is a good match. It’s an excellent wine to enjoy with sushi as well.
For today’s recipe, I’ve adapted an Asian-style chicken salad, as the flavors of ginger, the carrots, the jicama and the oranges draw out beautiful qualities in the wine. I typically add a thinly sliced jalapeño to this salad, but I have omitted it here because too much spicy heat can make the wine taste a little bitter. Without the heat, this salad helps the wine soar into its full self.
Asian-Inspired Chicken Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing
Serves 2 as a main course
Sesame Ginger Dressing (recipe follows)
2 cooked chicken thighs
4 cups shredded Napa cabbage
3 green onions, cut into very thin rounds
2 tablespoons fresh spearmint leaves
½ cup very fresh cilantro leaves
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into thin julienne
½ cup julienned jicama
1 Cara Cara orange, peeled, sections separated and membranes removed
¾ cup crisped rice noodles, see Note below
⅓ cup roasted cashews
Make the dressing and set it aside.
Pull the chicken off the bone and cut it into lengthwise slices. Set it aside.
Put the cabbage into a large bowl. Add the scallions, mint, cilantro, carrot, jicama and orange. Season lightly with salt, add a tablespoon of dressing, toss, add the crisp noodles and toss again. Divide among two bowls.
Set the chicken and cashews on top, spoon dressing over everything and enjoy right away.
Note: To prepare the noodles, use your hands to break up a generous handful of thin rice noodles — dried, of course. Pour a little peanut oil in a wok set over high heat. When it is hot, scatter the noodles into the pan, turn with long-handled tongs as they swell up and transfer to a bowl or plate. It takes just a few seconds.
Sesame Ginger Dressing
Makes about ⅔ cup
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon honey or sugar, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon chili garlic sauce or other Asian-style hot sauce, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil, preferably roasted
1 teaspoon lightly toasted sesame seeds
Put all the ingredients into a small Mason jar, close the lid tightly and shake. Taste and correct for salt by adding more soy sauce as needed, and for sweetness and acid balance.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings,” from which this recipe was adapted. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.