Some people call it a taboo when somebody drinks red with their fish course. This lifestyle titbits post is to showcase how it can be done.
Let's aim to cook a delicious late lunch (fishy!) and match it with red wine. Organic wine of course!
I wanted something rather substantial yet light (it was still sunny and nice), super tasty and with some contrasting flavours.
When we have such a glorious continuation of the summer and the temperatures are soaring to almost 30C, we just want something light. I personally wanted fish, but something a bit meatier, so I bought a fillet of monkfish. I also remember from my time spent in Gibraltar how gorgeous are grilled peaches are. You can have them with goat’s cheese, crumbled feta cheese and with maybe some rocket and jamon serrano.
So we have a meaty component (even though it is a piece of fish!) and a sweet component (when you grill your peach halves, they become even more sweet and aromatic as its watery substance is being reduced). Don't forget about some fresh rosemary, use it with your peaches to infuse them with the gorgeous aromatics.
I am not happy to have a sweet meaty fish on the plate so I decide to make a spicy & garlicky oil in which I will cook both fish and grill.
Nothing too complicated - just dice 1/4 of red chilli and one large clove of garlic and fry it on a low heat until you feel your oil is infused with it. You can discard garlic and chilli if you do not want to over infuse your oil and make it too pungent. You can grill your peaches and fish together - I do not see why not, the juices will combine into one delicious mixture that will keep your fish moist too. I do not like anything overcooked, so I baste monkfish with peach juices and oil and cook for about 6-7 minutes (I have quite a large and thick fillet)l. I will let it rest on the hot pan to let some residual juices run and fish will continue to slow cook.
Please try it - in general, you should constantly try your food whilst cooking as you can adjust some flavours on the spot until it is too late. So when you try it now you can taste a wonderful combination of sweet and spicy combined with a meaty texture of your fish. Fish should be cooked but a bit translucent inside so you really taste the fish. I’ve added a slice of lime and a few springs of coriander for a bit more fragrant aromas and flavours.
For some it is a flavour of their favourite wine and then to be matched with food or vice versa for others. The former group if probably in the minority though. We choose what we want to eat and then fuel our creative engines to pick an appropriate bottle of wine for it. With more and more people shopping for organic groceries, cooking delicious meals out of pure and honest ingredients, we do not see why wine should be lagging and not be organic.
Let’s add a third dimension to our dish - after being spicy and sweet, I want to add some acidity and even sourness to it. I now have a greatest helper of all - a natural Italian wine La Biancara Masieri Rosso that has been produced from Merlot, Tocai Rosso and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is unfiltered, hasn't been clarified and was made with no added sulphites (see more information why sulphites can be important for your health).
This light red wine is juicy and full of sour cherries and violets. The wine sourness will create a new flavour dimension, so sweet peaches will contrast with sour cherries. Only one word of caution here - the more spicy you decided to make your dish the less pleasant will your wine taste. If you have added just a bit for it to be fragrant then it is great, if you decided to go all in and make it a spice bomb you’d better stay away from wine and at most replace it with a beer or cider. Spice in your food really accentuates acidity and bitterness in the wine, so you will miss on fruit in your wine. One particular reason for most of people who dislike fish and red wine is that they go for overly oaky wines with high levels of ripe tannins - this all creates a slightly metallic and unpleasant combination with oily fish, so just go for light reds, low in tannins and, preferably, as natural as you can get!
Overall it is a great match and if you think about Italian cooking then it is all not very surprising - an exciting piece of fish cooked with fresh and ripe peaches with herbs and spices and matched with the light and juicy natural wine. Chill the wine lightly for freshness and it will sing a wonderful duet with your fish. When I write about it it suddenly transports me to an Italian coast, so I can smell the breeze and.. then I hear my dog barking and realise that it is just a warm afternoon in London suburbia.