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May 1, 2018
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WINE WITH…Striped Bass on Potatoes, Olives and Feta

Atlantic striped bass is a favorite of anglers and diners alike. As a sport fish, it’s known for its tenacity; as a food fish, it’s favored for its mild, slightly sweet flavor and its smooth, flaky texture. Striped bass can be pan-seared, grilled, steamed, poached, roasted, broiled, or deep-fried. It can be served with all sorts of sauces or flavored with just a squeeze of lemon. It can even be stuffed (with crab imperial, for example). Living in the mid-Atlantic, we enjoy it all sorts of ways, but one of our favorite preparations is this relatively simple but quite elegant dish. The fish is roasted atop a bed of thinly sliced potatoes and black olives, sprinkled with feta cheese. Serve it with a simple green salad and enjoy one of the Atlantic’s finest treats.

Striped Bass On a Bed of Potatoes, Olives, and Feta Cheese

Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
Salt and pepper
4 striped bass fillets
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup pitted black Nicoise olives
2 lemons, cut in thin rounds
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Brush the bottom of a shallow baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. (Make sure beforehand that the dish is large enough to hold the fish without the fillets lying on top of each other.) Spread the potatoes in the dish, overlapping them as you go. Sprinkle the potatoes with two tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the potatoes from the oven, and sprinkle them with the feta, thyme, oregano. Scatter the olives over the top. Salt and pepper the fish fillets, and place them, skin side up, on the bed of potatoes and other ingredients. Bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven, and peel the skin off of the fillets (It comes off very easily.) Using a spatula, place each fillet atop its own bed of potatoes on individual dinner plates. Garnish with the lemon slices, and serve immediately.

* * *

What all the wines that best complemented the dish had in common was the absence, or at least minimal presence, of oak. We tasted a Chardonnay that might have suited another sort of dish, but whose aggressive oak flavors in this case not only overwhelmed the delicacy of the fish but also added an almost metallic bitterness to it.

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Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Luigi Bosca,

Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza

(Argentina)

“A Rosé is a Rosé is a Rosé”

2017

(Imported by Frederick Wildman)

$14

Because it tips more towards dry than sweet, this rosé works well with the dish. A blend of Pinot Gris (85%) and Syrah (15%), the wine delivers both fruitiness and light hints of spice that seem to strike just the right note with the olives, which are themselves fruity and embedded with the understated spice of brine.

Clos du Val

Napa Valley

(California)

Sauvignon Blanc

2016

$30

The tart acidity and bright citrusy flavors of this Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc are like an extra splash of fresh lemon on the fish. A lighter Sauvignon Blanc might not have been up to the job here, but because the wine had hints of fruitiness adroitly balancing the acid, this proved a tasty match.

Domaine Delaporte,

Chavignol, Sancerre, (France)

2016

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)

$29

With its steely minerality and notes of lemon zest, this Sancerre seems a wine designed to be enjoyed with seafood. Lively acidity and a hint of salinity on the finish add to the perfection of this pairing.

J

Russian River

Valley

(California)

Brut Rosé

NV

$35

This vibrant, spring-blossom pink sparkling wine adds an elegant, festive note to the meal. A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, plus 1% Pinot Meunier, this fizz is dry rather than sweet, and it has delicate berry flavors.

Martin Ray

Sonoma County

(California)

Pinot Noir

2016

$22

Since striped bass is a somewhat delicately flavored fish we worried that a red wine might overpower it, but because this recipe is actually rich and complexly flavored, a classic Pinot with restrained fruit and oak supports and enhances rather than overwhelms the dish’s multiple flavors and textures.