I must confess that I’m not very good at cooking fish. I love to eat it, but inexplicably it scares me. All the same, I can’t resist when I pass by a fish shop, especially if there is fresh seafood on display (after all, is there anything more delicious than spaghetti with clams?). Well, I felt like having some fish for our Sunday lunch, but I was still undecided whether to purchase some sea bass, gilthead bream, or mackerel. Finally, I bought a fresh perch fillet having on my mind the idea of roasting it in the oven with potatoes, as usual. But when the moment came for me to prepare it, I didn’t feel like heating the oven, so I ended up cooking it on the heat. But how? I had one lime in the fridge and a celery stalk, and also some Provençal olive pickles – all ingredients that gave a chromatic tone of yellows and greens. But most of all, I had a superb bottle of Sauvignon that my husband brought home from a short business trip in Friuli.
This Sauvignon is produced by Kante winegrowers in Trieste. The wine, kept in special cellars excavated in the rocky Mount Carso, is aged for a year in barrique barrels, then for six months in steel barrels and finally bottled in 50 cl bottles. The neck of the bottle is particularly narrow and the cork is made exclusively with the part of bark facing south because of its peculiar characteristics. This Sauvignon – that must be kept at a temperature between 10°C and 15°C – was produced in 2006, that is it is at his most superb point, for maturity is reached only 3 or 4 years after vintage; actually, this wine must not be drunk if over five years old, because it loses prestige.
So, with this wonderful wine in my hand, I tried this very elegant recipe my husband really appreciated. Of course, you can substitute the Kante Sauvignon with another Sauvignon or any other still dry white wine of your choice. As for the Provençal olive pickles – which are aromatized with lemon, laurel, fennel seeds and coriander seeds – you can use other olive pickles, possibly not spicy because, this being a very delicate dish, spice would spoil it. —Rita Banci
- Serves 2
celery stalk, sliced
extravergine olive oil
lime, juice and zest
freshly ground white pepper
freshly ground Himalayan pink salt
- Cut the perch into medium pieces. Flour them and set aside.
- In a large frying pan, heat oil and gently fry shallots, celery, lime zest, garlic and coriander seeds. Cook for about 2-3 minutes till shallots are golden. Remove garlic.
- Now add the perch and let it brown on both sides for about 2-3 minutes. Add the lime juice and water and cook covered till tender (about 5 minutes). Now pour the wine and keep cooking for further 5 minutes. A few minutes before the perch is done, add olives. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with a Sauvignon wine and a fresh salad with cubed avocado seasoned with salt, extravergine olive oil and balsamic vinegar.