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Jun 1, 2016
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WINE WITH…Swordfish with Sauce Vierge

Sauce Vierge is one of those rare recipes that delivers maximum pleasure for a minimum amount of effort and money. We’re not sure why it’s called “sauce vierge” (virgin sauce), but perhaps it’s a reference to the extra virgin olive oil that is this sauce’s foundation. Now a modern French classic, sauce vierge’s origins lie in traditional Provençale cooking, but it was refined and popularized in the 1980s by the cuisine minceur chef Michel Guerard. This wonderfully versatile sauce is usually paired with shrimp or lobster, or with white fish such as sole, cod or swordfish. It is also an excellent sauce to spoon over chicken. We made it recently as an accompaniment to grilled swordfish.

The only slightly persnickety step in preparing sauce vierge is in peeling and seeding the tomatoes, but if you really can’t bear the thought of spending that extra 5 or 10 minutes then skip that step altogether; the resulting sauce will be somewhat more rustic but delectable nonetheless. The important thing is to add the diced tomatoes, peeled or not, to the rest of the mixture only a few minutes before serving to prevent their juices from diluting the oil.

Swordfish with Sauce Vierge:

Serves 2-4

Serve the swordfish with plain rice or steamed potatoes. London based chef Jamie Oliver likes to serve fish and sauce vierge on top of smashed potatoes.

The easiest way to peel the tomatoes is to drop them into boiling water, and then immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the contents into a colander. Run cold water over the tomatoes for a minute or two. The skins will then slip right off with the help of a sharp paring knife.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely minced shallots
2 tablespoons minced parsley
5-8 red or yellow small tomatoes such as cherry or grape tomatoes
freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Stir in the shallots and parsley. This may be done up to a couple of hours ahead. Peel the tomatoes, cut them in half and scrape out the seeds; then cut them into small dice. Return the diced tomatoes to the colander and sprinkle them with a small amount of salt. Place the colander over a bowl or and let the tomato juices drain out for at least 30 minutes. Just before serving, blot the tomatoes dry with a paper towel and stir them into the sauce. Taste for seasoning, and then spoon the sauce over the fish.

* * *

While we are recommending mainly white wines with this dish, the lone red we tried with it proved extremely compatible, so you might experiment with other soft, supple reds. With whites, don’t go for anything too delicate. The fish and sauce vierge prove very flavorsome, so can overpower a delicate wine all too easily. The one rosé we tried was not all that good. But as sometimes happens, that was less because of a poor match as because the wine itself was simply too dull to merit much interest. An intrinsically better pink wine surely would perform better.

Connect  on Twitter:   @M_L_Thomas  and  @Wine_With_
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Approx. Price
Barnard Griffin, Columbia Valley (Washington) Fumé Blanc 2014
A lovely expression of Sauvignon Blanc, with some New World heft on the palate, this bargain-priced wine perfo0rmed very admirably. It has just the right amount of weight on the palate to complement the fish and sauce.
Domaine Delorme et Fils, Pouilly-Fuissé (France) “Sur la Roche” 2014
(Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils)
This is a beautiful Pouilly-Fuissé, with apple and citrus fruit flavors, a touch of fleshiness in the texture, and a very long finish. It was the wine we kept going back to during the tasting. One sip simply wasn’t enough.
La Crema, Monterey (California) Pinot Gris 2014
Rich and ripe, with just enough acidity for balance, this fruit-forward wine offers a bit of muscle. It’s as forceful a white as you could want with this dish, and does not show overt and off-putting oak flavors. Instead, it tastes clean and fresh.
Presqu’ile, Santa Maria Valley (California) Sauvignon Blanc 2015
A very well-made Sauvignon Blanc, with melon rather than citrus flavors that linger well after you take a sip. Sauce vierge seems to prefer this sort of Sauvignon rather than one in a grapefruit or herbaceous style
Sonoma Collection, Sonoma County (California) Pinot Noir “District 3 Growers Reserve” 2013
A quite attractive Pinot, without annoying sweetness and a seductively supple texture. To our surprise, this was definitely a winner with the dish.