Cooking to the Wine: Recanati Marawi with Black Cod and Papaya-Cucumber Salad, Part 2

Recanati Marawi with Black Cod and Papaya-Cucumber Salad. Photo by Greg Hudson
The 2016 Recanati Marawi.  Note: the wine was given to me as a sample.


In my last post I shared a bit about 2016 Recanati Marawi Judean Hills. Marawi has a fascinating story, so I recommend going back and giving that post a quick read. As a very quick recap, Marawi (aka Hamdani) is a really ancient grape that has recently been rediscovered for winemaking.

Recanati Winery was started in 2000 by Lenny Recanati and Uri Shaked with the idea of produce elegant Israeli wines that express the region’s unique terroir. This wine fits right in with this ethos as they see this indigenous grape as a deep reflection of the land, moving beyond any political affiliations. They were actually the first to produce it as a single varietal wine.

 

THE PAIRING


Let’s finally move on to how it tastes. On the day Greg and I opened the wine, we got notes of lime pith, saline, white flowers, and green tropical fruits on the nose. We got similar notes on the palate with lemon and grapefruit, apples, underripe pineapple and green melon. That sea spray brought a savory edge, along with fresh, soft green herbs. This wine was dry, had a rounded body, had medium + acidity, and very moderate alcohol (12%). 


Recanati Marawi. Photo by Greg Hudson

Quick note: This wine was gifted to me as a sample at the winery when I visited it as part of press trip. Please note no other monetary compensation was received and  all opinions, as always, are my own.

To start off, Greg was feeling more of the green tropical notes, while the saline and savory notes were speaking to me. As I sat with it and the wine warmed up a bit, the tropical notes developed more in glass for me as well.

I was torn for a while on what to prepare for this wine. We’d just had some Laotian and Thai  take-out earlier in the day, and Greg noted this would have been a good match. Agreed. We also considered calamari with herbs or salsa verde, boquerones in a Spanish pintxos, and chicken or pork in chili verde with tomatillos. I think these would have all been solid matches.

Nonetheless, I really wanted to play with the combination of slightly underripe tropical fruit, saltiness, and green herbal notes. It seemed fitting to flip through Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook for inspiration. While I didn’t end up making this dish, an image of his Panfried Mackerel with Golden Beets and Orange Salsa helped to focus ideas chaotically floating around in my mind.


Flipping through Jerusalem: A Cookbook was great inspiration.

What I ultimately came up with was kind of a mash-up of a green papaya salad and tabouli without the grains. This might seem weird at first, but these two dishes actually have a few flavor components in common. If you’re unfamiliar with working with papaya, check out this helpful post from Viet World Kitchen, but it’s pretty similar to working with a melon or squash. Peel, scoop out seeds, then dice. Mine was just starting to ripen (it was yellowy to light orange) and I found that to be nice as it added just a hint of sweetness. That said, I think this would work at any ripeness level, from green to fully ripe, depending on your preference.

I served the salad with lightly marinated black cod, also known as sablefish. The fish has a buttery texture that seemed like it would be a wonderful match with the texture of the wine–it was! The final flourish was a little Greek yogurt, which also worked with the wine’s mouthfeel.

This pairing worked beautifully. The food brought out both the green herbs and the tangy tropical notes in the wine, as I’d hoped. Such a delicious match! I’d definitely make this dish again, particularly during warmer weather.

Bonus points–the leftover Papaya-Cucumber salad and Greek yogurt topped with nuts makes a delicious sweet-savory breakfast

 

THE GEEKY DETAILS


Here’s a bit more info taken from the tech sheets on Recanati and Palm Bay Import’s site:

GRAPE VARIETIES 100% Marawi

REGION: Judean Hills

VITICULTURE: Grapes are dry-farmed (no irrigation) at 750 m above sea level from a very small vineyard of only 0.6 ha from 30- year-old vines from a leased vineyard in Palestine.  The vineyard has a limestone-clay soil base. Grapes are hand harvested in the early morning in mid-September. Grape are grown using the traditional trellising method known as “Hebron Overhead Arbor.”

PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES: After careful hand harvesting, the grapes are de-stemmed and fermented for 10 days at approximately 78°F. There is no malolactic fermentation. The wine is transferred to French oak barrels where it matures for 6 months. The wine is further aged in bottle for 5 months before release.

ANALYSIS  Alch: 12.5% (Bottle says 12%) TA: 5.1g/L pH: 3.4

 

MONEY TALK:


This one might hard to find at this point, although it is brought to the US by Palm Bay Imports. The SRP is about $30, so while it’s not cheap, it’s not incredibly expensive either. I’d say it’s an Attainable Indulgence and a really Cool Find.

 

OTHER POSSIBILITIES


In addition to some of the other options I mentioned above, I think this wine would pair really well with any number of fish, chicken, and pork dishes with lighter sauces, as well as veggies and soft cheeses.

Since this wine is likely to be difficult to find, look for other white wines with a combination of herb notes and bright, bouncy fruits as alternatives. While very different, the combo of flavors in a New Zealand Sauv Blanc should pair nicely.



Black Cod and Papaya-Cucumber Salad. Photo by Greg Hudson

Black Cod with Papaya-Cucumber Salad

The cooking and assembly time for this dish is only about 20 minutes. However, the chopping does take a little longer, particularly if you’re on the slower end, as I am. Total time was about an hour give or take.

Black cod/sablefish comes in long slender fillets that are easy to portion as needed. I just made two servings, however, the salad is enough for about six. If your making more servings of the fish you might just need a little more oil, garlic, and cayenne.

Leftovers of the salad and yogurt make a delicious breakfast or snack topped with chopped nuts.

INGREDIENTS


Black cod filets (aka sablefish), portioned as needed and deboned as best as possible
Olive oil, about ½ to ⅔ cup, divided and as needed
Cayenne pepper, pinch
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 cups sliced papaya
1 ½  to 2 cups diced cucumber (about 1 medium cucumber)
1 cup chopped mint
1 cup chopped parsley
1 lemon, juiced, plus zest if desired
1 lime, juiced, plus zest if desired
Salt
Pepper
Greek yogurt, 2 Tbsp to ¼ cup per portion


INSTRUCTIONS


1. Place the black cod fillets in a bowl and drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil, and sprinkle with the garlic, salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Optional: zest some of the lemon and/or lime and sprinkle over the fish as well. Toss to coat well then set aside.

2. Combine the diced papaya, cucumber, mint, and parsley in a bowl. Drizzle the lemon and lime juice over top and drizzle with olive oil–about ⅓ cup or as desired to have the salad lightly coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. Lightly grease a large non-stick pan and heat over medium to medium-high heat. Add the fish filets to the pan skin-side down. Cook until the fish is about ¾ of the way done and skin has started to lightly brown–about 4 or 5 minutes. You’ll see the fish beginning to turn opaque on the edges and starting to creep in towards the center. When it’s nearly cooked, flip and continue for another 3 minutes or so on the second side, or until it’s opaque all the way through. Be careful when flipping as the fish can be delicate.

4. Once the fish is fully cooked through, remove from heat. Spoon a little bit of yogurt onto each plate and sprinkle with a little bit of cayenne pepper. Top with a scoop of the salad and a black cod filet. Serve.



Black Cod and Papaya-Cucumber Salad. Photo by Greg Hudson

Black Cod and Papaya-Cucumber Salad. Photo by Greg Hudson



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Like I mentioned last time, I was so excited when the Wine Pairing Weekend crew chose "Wines that start with the letter 'M' " for this month's topic, as it gave me the chance to talk about this wine.

If you love food and wine and ever want to join us for our discussions, we meet on Twitter to discuss food and wine the second Saturday of every month at 11 am ET / 8 am PT. It’s easy to join in by following the hashtag #WinePW.  
Join us next month on June 9th . The topic will be Australian Wines for Summer Grilling and Gwendolyn (@ArtPredator) of winepredator.com is hosting.


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Additional source used for this post:

Ancient Grapes Are the Future of Israeli Wine by Peter Weltman, Food & Wine

(Also check out Peter's Bordeless Wines movement which explores buying wine as a form of activism. )


Israel's Transformation by Kim Marcus, Wine Spectator

Meet Marawi
, WinesIsrael.com

Wine returns to the Holy Land
by Jancis Robinson

Middle Eastern Wine Update
by Jancis Robinson

Looking for King David's Favorite Wine Grape
by Suzanne Mustacich, Wine Spectator 


Israel Aims to Recreate Wine That Jesus and King David Drank, by Jodi Rudoren, The New York Times

and

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