Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fish Steamed Over Vegetables

While pouring a very interesting albeit not very enjoyable tasting of red wines from the Languedoc (they have a tendency to smell like a barnyard in the summer, not my idea of delicious) I got into a conversation about wine pairings with one of the tasters on a subject that I've never much thought about.  She was talking about  having just gotten into wine and how she's working on cellaring some wine.  However she is both a pescetarian (a vegetarian that also eats fish) and a lover of big red wines who was trying to come to terms with the fact she would never be able to pair all these great reds with an equally great meal.

I guess the whole "red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat" rule of thumb has become a bit too entrenched in the minds of starter winos.  And I say, rules?  Who needs them.  Do what you like.  If you're in the mood for fish and a red wine don't let the guy at the wine store who insists pinot gris is the only good wine to drink with white fish get in your way.  Of course a Cabernet and tilapia in a lemony sauce is going to be a little weird.  However pinot noir with a hefty fish like salmon is amazing.

So the other night when the fella and I were making this outstanding fish steamed over vegetables I tested out the red wine with white meat with good results.  The smooth, light bodied Castle Rock Pinot Noir from Geyserville, California had the right balance of gentle tannins and berry and stone fruit flavors to compliment the halibut steaks.  The steamed eggplant with the rich thyme and stewed tomatoes gave the fish enough heft that it could stand up to the Pinot.

Tada a red wine to pair with white fish.  It can be done.  And the recipe itself has the makings of a new favorite.  It was as easy as chopping up some vegetables and stirring it every once in a while.  And I can't believe I never thought of simply steaming fish over top of the veggies at the end, so much easier and waistline friendly than pan frying the fish.  Not to mention this is an excellent recipe to use, subbing in whatever random produce you have in the fridge.

Fish Steamed Over Vegetables

3 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

2 medium zucchini, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium pepper (any color), cut into inch pieces

2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup black olives

1 1/2 pounds white fish steaks (we used halibut)
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large deep skillet with a lid, over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft.

Add the zucchini, eggplant, pepper and a but more salt and pepper to the pan,  Lower the hear to keep veggies from burning and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 to 15 minutes or until eggplant is soft. 

Add the tomatoes, thyme and olives, cook stirring occasionally until the tomatoes begin to break up and create a sauce, or about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper then place flesh side down over the pile of vegetables.  Adjust the heat so that the sauce simmers then cover pan and cook from anywhere between 5 to 12 minutes or until a knife inserted to the thickest part of the fish meets little resistance.  Thin fish will be done in 5 minutes, my medium thick fish took 8 minutes.

Spoon a portion of the veggies to a plate then top with fillet of fish.  Sprinkle with a bit of fresh basil.

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