For me a weekend is not complete unless I cook at least one meal at home. By this definition, last 2 weekends were not complete but they were not wasted. One was spent in Bali , not sunbathing or diving but birding! It was pretty intense ! However being right next to the sea, I did manage to squeeze in a few memorable meals. The best was fillet of snapper on the north coast for dinner on day one. In the previous weekend, time was well spent socializing. One of the main activities was a wine tasting event where I discovered a white grape from Spain I’d never heard before – Verdejo. Like many elements of Spanish food, this wine is said to have originated from grapes grown in North Africa and spread to Spain by Mozarabs. It was divine with hints of tropical fruits and zest of citrus fruits. I bought a couple of bottles and it was a deviation from the usual Chablis I usually stick to during summers.
This Saturday draws inspiration from the previous two weekends. A trip to the sea-food market is always a pleasurable experience. A foreigner in Seoul, explaining to the fishmonger how to fillet draws quite a crowd but I am used to it these days. The choice was fish a delicious, fresh… Snapper, a lean fish with a firm texture. But how do you prepare the fish so that it pairs well with the wine? That required a bit of thought. In the end, I decided to coat the skin-side of the fish with a ground mix of coriander seeds, fennel seeds and smoked paprika. It was experimental but felt that the sweet aftertaste of fennel seeds would compliment well with the Verdejo wine I had bought earlier. A bright sunlit day also contributes to a good wine and food pairing!
For coating the fish
- 1 teaspoon Coriander seeds (toasted)
- 1 teaspoon Fennel seeds (toasted)
- 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 2-4 sprigs of fresh Thyme
- Olive Oil
- Truffle Salt
- 1 Egg Yolk
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Lemon juice
- 1/4 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 clove minced garlic Minced Garlic
- Salt to season
- A pinch of chopped parsley
- 2 Asparagus stalks
- 1/2 Yellow and Red peppers
- 1/2 Zucchini
1. Grind the toasted coriander and fennel seeds. Score the skin of the fish and rub the ground spice mix with some olive oil, smoked paprika and thyme. Keep it for about an hour. Prepare the garlic aioli based on a simple recipe by Jamie Oliver
2. Prep the sides in the meantime, open the wine and enjoy the sunset with a glass of the wine! Use just enough spinach leaves to form a base to put the fish in the finished dish. Semi wilt the spinach. It should still have the strength to hold the shape. Place it at the base of the serving dish.
3. Finely chop the red and yellow peppers and combine with capers, lemon juice and olive oil to form a vinaigrette (keep aside). Cut the zucchini into 5mm thick slices. Steam the asparagus.
4. In a frying pan put a bit of butter and olive oil. Just at the butter melts, put the fish skin side down. Press it down for the first minute to prevent it from curling . Cook it for nor more than 3-4 minutes , till the inside of the fish develops a glossy texture indicating it’s done, and transfer it warmed plate. Cook the zucchini in the same pan till golden brown.
5. Plate as shown in the picture , sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve with a glass of chilled Verdejo (a California Sauvignon Blanc should also be fine) and the fresh, warm garlic aioli.