Which wines to pair with the season's best fish
Modern life affords us access to many seasonal foods year-round, but the truth is there remain peak times for certain items, particularly if you’re going to go about harvesting them yourself. Take mahimahi for example. We’re in the peak fishing season for mahi right now, particularly in the Caribbean and off the coast of Florida, and the timing couldn’t be better. With winter in our rearview mirror, adding a lighter meal to one’s days just seems natural, and mahi is simply a superb fish for the season.
Meaty, easy to prepare and pair with wine, while remaining relatively forgiving to the typical pitfalls of preparing fish (i.e. overcooking), mahimahi is one appealing fish. Perfect for the lighter fare of warmer months, it’s supremely adept at supporting spring's bright flavors that take advantage of the coming bounty of seasonal fruits and vegetables. I was perusing some recipes recently and came across a few that I can’t wait to try, all drawing influence from the coastal regions — home to some of the most productive mahimahi fisheries. So sit back and start thinking about dinner, and the lovely meals you’ll be preparing as temps warm up.
Click ahead to find Mahi Mahi recipes and wine pairings.
— Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth
Wine Pairing Wednesday: Pinot Gris and Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos
Pinot Gris is the second most planted grape varietal in Oregon. The grape varietal does very well in this area due to the climate and the location. Furthermore, Oregon has similar geographical characteristics as the Burgundy and Alsatian regions of France where the grape originated. Oregon is a cooled climate, moderate temperatured area with long hours of sunshine. These consistent weather conditions allow the grape varietal to ripen slowly which is ideal for the grape.
Pinot Gris: The Grape Varietal
Pinot Gris’ are usually picked early. This is why the wine tends to be light and fruity. The wine is best consumed within five to six years of bottling. The grape varietal thrives in cooler climates because this allows the grape to fully ripen. Oregon Pinot Gris’ are usually Medium bodied, have a balanced acidity and pair wonderfully with food. The skin of the grape ranges from blue-gray to pinkish-brown and if you hold the wine up to the light, you can see hues of pink flowing your glass.
I hope that you enjoyed learning a little bit more about the Pinot Gris grape varietal and that you enjoyed this tasting. Leave a comment below of the different notes that you tasted in the wine.
8 & $20: Cilantro-Lime Mahi Mahi With a Portuguese White
Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
As the United States' two largest cities, New York and Los Angeles are natural rivals. East Coast vs. West Coast, subways vs. highways, the list goes on. As a New York resident, I decided to make my own comparison of the two metropolises on a recent visit to the City of Angels, using the barometer of success that matters most in my mind: the quality of the food.
After days of strenuous, albeit delicious, research, I came to a few conclusions. The pizza? Fuggedaboutit. L.A. pies don't come close to a New York slice. Ditto on the bagels and deli sandwiches: The Big Apple still holds the crown. But after a few run-ins with authentic So-Cal tacos, I couldn't deny the superiority of the handmade corn tortillas stuffed with slow-roasted meats and dripping with complex moles and salsas. The fish tacos sealed the deal, filled with catches evoking the ocean and bursting with freshness from perfectly ripe avocados and tangy slaws. You win this one, L.A.
Back in New York, I happily returned to my corner pizza joint and bodega bacon, egg and cheese, but couldn't shake the memory of those tacos. Instead of setting out on a citywide search for a satisfactory equivalent, I decided to use the memory as inspiration in the kitchen.
I had promised to make a birthday dinner for a friend and wanted to treat her to a meal a bit fancier than tacos, so I used the fish taco flavors as a base. Recalling a bright green salsa I'd had on one of my favorite tacos out west, I attempted to recapture its flavors in a marinade of lime and cilantro.
These fresh ingredients—along with chopped garlic, grapefruit zest and olive oil—dressed a beautiful cut of mahi mahi I'd chosen at the fishmonger. Mahi mahi has a hearty texture and is resilient on the grill. Five minutes on each side brought beautiful golden-brown accents to the marinated fish.
Grapefruit flavors complemented the filets perfectly. I employed the whole fruit, using its zest in the marinade, its juice as a dressing for slaw, and its segments mixed in with the cabbage.
You should be able to collect a considerable amount of juice by cutting the grapefruit over a bowl and squeezing the rinds after removing the fruit. This juice, mixed with olive oil and Dijon mustard as an emulsifier, makes a tangy, rich dressing for the cabbage. The addition of avocado, perhaps L.A.'s most ubiquitous ingredient, adds creaminess, balance and texture.
With such coastal flavors, I immediately ruled out red wines as potential pairings. I chose three whites: one from Italy, one from South Africa and one from Portugal. The first, a Soave from northern Italy, was easy-drinking and pleasant, but had an oily texture that didn't feel right with the snappy crunch of the slaw. Perhaps it would have been a better fit if I'd served the fish with rice or roasted vegetables.
The second wine, a Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, underscored my No. 1 rule of pairing: If you don't like the wine on its own, you probably won't like it with your food. The wine skewed heavily toward herbaceous and bell pepper flavors—a style of which I'm not particularly fond.
My Portuguese wine choice, a Verdelho from the Alentejo region, turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. The wine burst with acidity and citrusy, tropical flavors, elevating the grapefruit and lime in the slaw and marinade.
Cilantro-Lime Mahi Mahi With Avocado Grapefruit Slaw
Pair with a tropical white such as Herdade do Esporão Verdelho Alentejo 2013 (86 points, $13).
Total time: 40 minutes
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Approximate food costs: $22
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 lime (zest and juice)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- Approximately 1 pound mahi mahi
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 grapefruit (zest, sections and juice)
- 1 avocado, sliced or cubed
- 4 cups green or red cabbage, thinly sliced
1. Zest grapefruit and set aside. Over a large bowl, section the grapefruit while collecting the excess juice. Set sections aside. Whisk the grapefruit juice with 3 tablespoons olive oil, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Add sliced cabbage and toss.
2. In a medium bowl, combine zest and juice of lime, 1 teaspoon grapefruit zest, 3 tablespoons olive oil, chopped cilantro, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Divide mahi mahi filets into 2 even portions and coat with marinade.
3. Brush grill with olive oil and heat to a high temperature. Cook fish flesh-side down for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for 5 more minutes or until opaque and remove from grill.
4. Gently combine avocado slices and grapefruit sections with the cabbage slaw and spread onto plate or platter. Top with a piece of the grilled mahi mahi and serve. Serves 2.
Five-Spice Chicken Noodle Salad
Like a cross between a noodle bowl and a salad, this dish is low in fat and has a kick—thanks to the zesty salad dressing based on a Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Pair with: Chenin Blanc. It sports some tropical flavors, exotic florals, and a tiny bit of residual sugar—all of which make it really good with spicy Asian dishes. Its beautiful acidity handles the zippy lime in the dressing here, while that exotic side is a good foil for the five-spice, mint, and peanuts. Recommended bottle: L’Ecole No 41 2012 Chenin Blanc (Columbia Valley).
Mahi Mahi in a Cream Sauce
If you pair your mahi mahi with a creamy sauce, you'll want a wine that has some acidity to it to cut through the heaviness of the cream sauce.
Vouvray traditionally comes from France's Loire Valley. It is made from Chenin Blanc grapes and occasionally contains Arbois. Vouvray is crisp and floral with herbal notes. It also has tremendous acidity, which can help balance the fattiness of a cream sauce.
Made from the Pinot Noir grape, Champagne is often a lovely balance of acidity and toastiness. This combination balances cream sauces beautifully.
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio
These two wines come from the same grape. France and Oregon call it Pinot Gris while Italy and California call it Pinot Grigio. This dry wine often has tree fruit flavors like apple, along with a hint of minerals. With nice crispness to the wine, it's the perfect balance for mahi mahi with a cream sauce.
Fishcakes are one of the ultimate comfort foods - but is there an equally comforting wine pairing?
In general they go well with dry white wines, however it depends a little on what fish you use and whether you&rsquore serving a buttery sauce alongside
Salmon fishcakes are quite rich and often served with a citrussy butter sauce. I tend to favour the same types of wine as I&rsquod pick for a fish pie - unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Blanc or a Sauvignon/Semillon blend such as you find in Bordeaux or the Margaret River region of Australia
White fish cakes with parsley
Not being quite as rich these are fine with a lighter, crisper white such as Albarino, Muscadet, Picpoul de Pinet or Pinot Grigio. A minerally Sauvignon Blanc like a Sancerre is a good pairing too
Thai fish cakes
Here the seasoning is all-important together with the sweet chilli sauce with which they&rsquore often served. I&rsquod tend to go for a dry Riesling - particularly Clare or Eden Valley Riesling though you could also drink a New Zealand - or other zesty Sauvignon Blanc. Witbier/bière blanche (wheat beer) is also a really good match
Photo ©mizina at fotolia.com
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Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Lemonade Marinade
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Cook time: 6 minutes.
Serves 6 guests.
- 2 pounds Mahi-mahi steaks or other fish steaks
- 3/4 cup Florida lemon juice
- 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons Florida honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Step One: Place fish in single layer in glass dish that will hold marinade. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over fish.
Step Two: Marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, turning once. Remove steaks from marinade and place on well oiled grill over medium-hot coals 4 to 6 inches from the heat.
Step Three: Grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested. (Fillets less than an inch thick do not have to be turned during cooking.) Carefully remove fish to a warm platter. Serve immediately.
Food and Wine Pairings
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Grilled Mahi Mahi with Mango
• 4 Mahi Mahi filets, 5–6 oz each
• 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
• 1 tsp Black Pepper
• 1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
• 1 tsp Salt
• 1/2 cup Olive Oil, Extra Virgin
• 1 Lemon, juice
• 2 Tbsp Mango Chutney
DIRECTIONS:Combine garlic, spice, lemon juice, and olive oil in a food processor until well blended. Marinate the fish up to 1 hour before grilling.
Heat grill to medium heat (about 400°F). If you have a fish plate for your grill, allow it to preheat as well. Place fish on the grill, skin side down first. Cook for 4–5 minutes before flipping. Cook opposite side for 4–5 minutes, until fish is opaque in the center.
Serve topped with mango chutney and a sprig of cilantro. Serves 4. Complement with a side of cauliflower rice or steamed vegetables.
Cambridge Chardonnay Carneros, California
After two consecutive challenging harvests, this vintage was just what the wine doctor ordered. A mild, frost-free winter led into a calm spring, creating ideal conditions for fruit to set on the vines. The summer months were warm but absent of any crushing heat waves. Most importantly, fall was sun-filled and tranquil, allowing growers to ripen their crop to its fullest potential. This was truly a vintage for the artists among wine makers. In the Carneros appellation, many mornings began with a cool fog blanketing the vineyards. By noon the fog retreated and the sun bathed the chardonnay grapes in calm, warm conditions. Pairs well with grilled mahi-mahi with a mango chutney and a salad of mixed bitter greens.
“A gentle and balanced style of Chardonnay,this Carneros-based wine shows rich and peachy flavors of California Chardonnay but without the wild, buttery character so typical of its Napa neighbors further inland. Tropical notes and a touch of spice are very lightly tinged with spicy oak character” – Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine
Appellation: Carneros, California
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
Analysis: 14.4% alc/vol
Aging: 30% in one year old French oak barrels, 70% in stainless steel tanks
Mahi-Mahi Tacos, Wine Pairing?
I'm not much of a seafooder, but my girlfriend loves fish. I want to make her some dope fish tacos, and I have no reason to believe I can't!
I don't, however, have any idea what kind of wine to pair with it. We're not super foody, so I'm thinking something under $15. I'm in Washington state if people want to get specific.
I'm also happy to accept any other suggestions about the meal people may have.
A cold Presidente or even Modelo are the go to here.
corona with salt and lime would be great. tacos and cheap beer go great together.
Since you mentioned lime in your fish marinade as well as adding some "kick," I would not recommend a Pinot Noir as a good pairing wine in fact itɽ be near the bottom of the list of varietals Iɽ recommend. Pinot Noir does not stand up well to lemon or lime-type citrus, and is easily overwhelmed by any spice you may add to your fish tacos to give it kick. I am a chef in Oregon so from a personal standpoint too, Washington does not make good Pinot at the price point you are looking for (at any price point, really. ). Washington state is best known in the red varietals for Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah or blends of those varietals, none of which would be great fits for your tacos.
If I were you (and with this amazing weather we've been having), I would lean toward a rosè as my first choice. With the flavors you suggest a rosè would be a great match, especially a sparkling rosè (and talk about romantic!). Other choices in the Washington State region would be Sauvignon Blanc, White Bordeaux blends or a lightly oaked, drier Chardonnay (these are all white wines). Basically you are looking for a wine that can stand up to the acidity and flavor in your fish without overloading your palate with tannins or fruit (which is what most Washington reds would do--much better with poultry, pork and beef).
And honestly, you are more likely to find good (and by good I mean small, boutique producers who make delicious wine) French/Italian/Spanish/Old World wine for cheaper than you would find the same quality local wine. Try shopping at a small wine shop rather than the grocery store--you'll likely stumble upon a great bottle under $15. Don't even get me started on the local wine pricing thing.
You can't get much better in terms of quality protein than a white fish like Mahi-Mahi. Check out some of the health benefits, as well as how to substitute, select it from the store, and cook it!
Types of White Fish
Here are some of the most popular types of white fish:
- Freshwater fish like bass and catfish
So you have plenty of options to choose from if Mahi-Mahi isn't available or in season. The closest substitute on this list is probably halibut.
How to Select White Fish
Some tips for buying white fish include:
- Go with what's fresh. Fresh is always best! (But if you're in a landlocked area and only have access to frozen, that's fine.)
- If you're buying fresh fish, make sure it doesn't have a "fishy" smell at the store before buying. This could mean it's a few days old already.
- Don't be afraid to ask the fishmonger or butcher what's fresh. The good ones want to send you home with the best stuff they have that day. They might even pull something that just came in from out back!
- White fish meat should be slightly translucent. If it's pearly white, it's probably a few days old already.
- Wild fish is always preferable to farm-raised. It tends to be leaner and dries out a little quicker, but it's better for you!
- In general, most white fish substitutions will work in a pinch. If a recipe calls for haddock and the store only has cod, for example, that's completely doable.
Ways to Cook White Fish
Cooking white fish depends on the recipe you're trying to make and the thickness of the fish.
Fortunately Mahi-Mahi is a versatile piece of protein that can be grilled, oven-baked, sautéed, or even deep-fried if you wanted.
Generally speaking, pieces of white fish that are an inch or thicker need longer to cook, so higher-temp methods like grilling will require you to keep an eye on it.