March 30, 2021, 8:10PM
Updated 1 hour ago
Our Wine of the Week, Bella Grace Vineyards, 2020 Amador County Vermentino ($27), is graceful, beguiling and unexpected. The wine is pale, cool and almost clear in the glass, but the first impression it makes on the palate is one of sweet, fruity warmth, a result of its generous fruit.
You’ll notice ripe apricot, white pineapple, pomelo and Key lime right up front, followed by a mid-palate plushness that resolves into a long, lingering finish suggestive of coconut. This quality, of both fresh and dried coconut, is key to both the wine’s character and its best matches. Mild coconut-based curries let this wine soar into its full self.
For Easter, you’ll enjoy this wine with baked ham, especially with a glaze of apricot jam and garlic. It also resonates beautifully with scalloped potatoes, sautéed snow peas and roasted asparagus spritzed with lemon.
Some of this vermentino’s best companions are from the sea. Sea scallops, razor clams, Dungeness crab with melted butter and small sweet oysters flatter the wine. Sautéed flat fish, such as sand dabs, make beautiful matches, too.
For today’s recipe, I’m edging into Southeast Asian territory, with a simple coconut milk pan sauce tying the wine to petrale sole in a seductive way. This dish is more delicate than a full-on curry, and it allows the wine to blossom without interference from spicy heat that could turn it a bit bitter.
Petrale Soul with Coconut Pan Sauce and Jasmine Rice
Makes 2 servings
Steamed jasmine rice, hot
½ cup all-purpose flour
Black pepper in a mill
2 fillets of petrale sole, rex sole or flounder
2 tablespoons coconut oil, clarified butter or ghee, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons lime juice, from 2 or 3 limes
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
½ cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons granulated sugar, as needed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
If you have not already done so, prepare the jasmine rice, using your preferred method or consulting package directions. When the rice is cooked, remove it from the heat and, without lifting the lid, let it rest while you prepare the fish.
Put the flour onto a plate and season it generously with salt and pepper. Press the fish fillets into the mixture, coating them all over and then patting off the excess. Set on a clean work surface.
Warm two dinner plates.
Set a large heavy sauté pan over high heat, add the fat and let it melt; if the pan is particularly big, you may need to add a bit more fat to fully coat it. When it is hot, add the fillets and cook for 3½ to 4 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent burning. Turn to the other side and carefully add a tablespoon of the lime juice, pouring it close to the fish and tilting the pan so it surrounds it. Cook for 4 minutes more and a little longer if the fillets are thicker than usual.
Working quickly, add 2 generous scoops of rice to both plates and drape a fillet partially over the rice.
Return the pan to the heat, pour in the wine and swirl the pan to pick up cooking juices. Simmer until nearly completely reduced. Press the ginger through a small tea strainer into the simmering wine and stir in the coconut milk and fish sauce. Stir and simmer for a minute or two, until heated through and beginning to thicken.
Quickly taste the sauce and if it is a tad flat, add the sugar and a shake more of fish sauce.
Spoon the sauce over the fish and the rice, scatter cilantro on top and enjoy right away.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “San Francisco Seafood.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.