I love sashimi for its clean, spanking fresh, sweet sea flavours, however it must be fresh. Curing is a way of preserving fish, from the oh-so-subtle flavours of Peter Gilmore’s seafood rock-pool to the full-on salted cod that’s saved many a sailor from starvation and started the troublesome cod wars.
Kingfish Ceviche avocado, finger lime, coriander cracker + 2016 Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Ried Kaiserberg, Wachau, Austria, A$35
Ceviche is one of the most simple yet vibrant ways to cure fish with citrus juice (usually lime) ‘cooking’ the fish and firming its texture. I’ve enjoyed ceviche in Australia and, in various guises in Asia. This recipe comes from Nomad in Surry Hills, Sydney where I paired a Hahndorf Hill Gru Grüner Veltliner. The Gru’s white pepper vying with the clean kingfish flavours, its bright acidity cutting through the avocado’s creamy richness. I tried the recipe at home with the Domäne Wachau. It worked equally well.
Salmon in Sauvignon Blanc + 2018 The Yard Channybearup Sauvignon Blanc, Pemberton, A$25
Damien Pignolet shocked Sydney when he decamped from his beloved Claude’s to the Woollahra Hotel. Yet, all was forgiven when he served his (now legendary) gravlax-style salmon at its brilliant Bistro Moncur. I sold a pallet of cleanskin sauvignon blanc to Pignolet and it’s remained his marinade de jour. A clean crisp sauvignon blanc is the natural choice with Larry Cherubino’s 2018 right on the money.
Smoked Rainbow Trout + 2016 Bloodwood Riesling, Orange, A$29
Rhonda Doyle, the queen of Bloodwood – and great cook in her own right – has an instinctive feel for food and wine. The Bloodwood seasonal dinners are a thing of the past but the memories remain. At one, Doyle served a smoked rainbow trout dish matched with the Bloodwood Riesling. The sweetness of the fish with its wood-smoke flavours was balanced by the floral intensity and acid drive of the wine.
Confit of Ocean Trout with Apple and Witlof Salad + 2016 Freycinet Louis Pinot Noir, Tasmania, A$40
Tetsuya Wakuda loves all things Taswegian, his signature confit ocean trout using the wonderful fish from Tasmanian fishery, Petuna. Wakuda's curing technique uses olive oil rather than citrus juice, resulting in an unctuous mouthful of deliciousness. A tight chardonnay works well enough but I prefer pinot. To keep the Tasmanian connection happening, open a bottle of Louis, a lithe framed yet intense pinot, and watch Wakuda on SBS explain how you can confit your own ocean trout at home.
Hand-Harvested Seafood + 2014 Château du Cléray Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Vallet, Loire Valley, France, A$29
There are some perks to my job for I was invited to the recently re-opened Quay restaurant. Peter Gilmore’s light touch was palpable but came to the fore with a tiny bowl of seafood. The ingredients change depending on what can be procured – ‘Rottnest Island scallop, baby Coffin Bay octopus and hand-raked Eyre Peninsula vongole’ stated the menu at the time. Brown rice vinegar ‘cured’ the delicate seafood with a deeply saline Muscadet a willing companion.
Salt-cured cod BaccalÀ stuffed Courgette Flowers + 2017 S.C Pannell Amuse, McLaren Vale, A$30
Salted cod has many aliases – ‘bacaloa’ in Spain, ‘baccalà’ in Italy, ‘bacalhau’ in Portugal – for giant slabs of greyish-white dried cod are a feature of fish markets across the Mediterranean. This recipe comes from a café near the seafood markets in Catania, Sicily, naturally a Mount Etna Bianco was the mandatory accompaniment and a heavenly match, but the S.C. Pannell works equally well.
15 Minutes of Fame
There were two young men at one of the Bloodwood seasonal dinners. One was Alan Benson (now one of Australia’s top food photographers), and the other Matthew Evans on his first journalistic outing before he found restaurant reviewing fame and reinvented himself as the Gourmet Farmer. My brush with fame.