Pairing: Sauvignon blanc with fish tacos
Our Wine of the Week, Amici 2014 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($25), has a quality expressed in a number of sauvignon blancs from both Napa and Lake counties, a suggestion, a flourish, of jalapeño. It’s a bit surprising when it first emerges amidst more familiar characteristics and always a delight. Here, the jalapeño mingles with lemon, lime zest, lemon balm and lemongrass, with warmer fruit flavors--especially white stone fruit--emerging as the wine spreads over your palate. There’s plenty of minerality--think of cement warming in the sun after a light rain--and a refreshing finish that has you eager for another sip.
When the wine is well-chilled, there’s another quality, too, a briny element suggestive of sea mist, ocean waves and salt air.
It is a lovely, balanced sauvignon blanc with wide appeal at the table. Enjoy it with certain spicy foods, such as cole slaw with ginger-jalapeño vinaigrette, young goat cheeses, zucchini tacos, grilled zucchini, wilted spinach with lemon and garlic, and, because there’s a plushness to it, summer corn.
This wine is wonderful with fish and shellfish, too, as you would expect. It is a great companion to oysters on the half shell and, when Dungeness is in season, you’ll want this wine around. Green olives, brined green peppercorns, clams, celery, fennel, grapefruit, ricotta, mustard, and avocado are all flattered by and in turn flatter this pleasing quaffer. Incorporating one or more of these ingredients into a dish will enhance the match.
Today’s recipe is perfect on a warm summer night. Add tangy cole slaw alongside and you’ll have a summer feast.
Fish Tacos with Avocado, Radishes and Lime
2 firm-ripe avocados
8 radishes, trimmed and cut into small dice
1 small serrano, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
— Kosher salt
3 limes, halved
— Black pepper in a mill
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon ground cayenne
4 tablespoons clarified butter
2 pounds snapper, ling cod, or rock cod fillets
8 homemade-style corn tortillas or 16 commercial-style corn tortillas, hot
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
Cut the avocados in half, remove the seeds, and use a sharp knife to make diagonal cuts to but not through the skin, spacing the cuts about 1/2-inch apart. Make a second set of cuts, creating squares of the flesh. Insert a soup spoon between the skin and the flesh and scoop out the diced avocado; put it into a medium bowl. Add the radishes, serrano, and cilantro but do not stir. Season generously with salt and add the juice of 1 of the limes. Use 2 forks to very gently toss the ingredients together, trying not to mash the avocados as you do. Taste, correct for salt and acid and add several turns of black pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
Put the flour, cayenne, 2 tablespoons of salt, and several turns of black pepper onto a wide plate and mix with a fork.
Put the butter into a large frying pan and while it heats, press each piece of fish into the flour mixture, covering both sides. Hold the fish with one hand and pat it with the other to remove excess flour.
When the butter is quite hot, put the fish in the pan in a single layer, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turn, squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the fish, and cook 3 to 4 minutes more, until it flakes with a fork and is golden brown. Transfer to absorbent paper. (If all the fish did not fit in the pan at one time, cook the rest of it.)
Set 2 handmade-style tortillas on each of four plates; if using commercial-style tortillas, use 4, setting 2 on top of each other.
Working quickly, cut the fish into chunks (about 1-inch square), divide among the tortillas and top each taco with a very generous spoonful of the avocado mixture. Garnish each plate with 2 lime wedges and enjoy right away.
Michele Anna Jordan is author of the new “Good Cook’s” series. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her blog at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.