Friday, 15 March 2013

Food and wine pairing {Chablis food blogger challenge}

I have always wanted to do wine pairings on my blog and am completely in awe of those who can actually do so with ease. I mean I have evolved from being a fan of the really sweet wines, to the more drier ones and particularly the reds which we now order online and always have stash at home. That said, I crave for the occasional white wine and when I do, I savour it like no business. Its like drinking a can of coke after ages and you realise how incredibly awesome it tastes. Its also the whites that I would prefer for an afternoon drink or a BBQ. So when I was sent two bottles of Chablis wines to sample, I was over the moon. For one, I could introduce food and wine pairing on my blog and two, it had been a while since I'd had a good bottle of white wine and I couldn't wait to give it a go. I read up extensively about Chablis- thanks to the great tasting notes and info sent along with the wine and the plethora of info on the Chablis website- its opened my eyes on a whole lot of things. Do read up more on Chablis here

The challenge put forth was to recommend a take away pairing for the wine. I gave it a little thought and decided it had to be Chinese food. We love Chinese food and if it wasn't for our favourite take away joint around the corner, we would never have tasted authentic Chinese grub. I have always wondered what sort of wine would go with Chinese food and I'm proud to say that I made the Chablis work for us. I mean, I am no expert at wine pairings or even, wine tasting for that matter, but what I can definitely do is differentiate a great wine from a lot. We order Chinese take away every other week and almost always go back to a certain few dishes on the menu. After some brain storming sessions, I decided that along with the takeaway, I'd make two of my favourite dishes from the restaurant and present it here. I paired the Petit Chablis with steamed prawn and chive dumplings and the Chablis La Maladiere with spicy Kung Pao Pork (a take on the much known Kung Pao Chicken)
The dimsums at this place are too good, and I thought the prawn and chive dumpling with simple flavours would bring out the best in the wine, and vice versa. The slight chalky taste (I don't know if I was imagining it) and acidic taste went well with the coastal tones of the dumpling, and the fresh, slightly sweet tasting notes paired well with the heat from ginger, garlic and chives, all brought together by the saltiness of the soy sauce. The smell, absolutely fragrant and the colour a clear gold. These dumplings on a sunny afternoon, with a glass of Petit Chablis, would definitely make it to my favourite list.

The Chablis La Maladiere was a drier wine, which if you ask me, was my favourite among the two. I could just enjoy a glass or two on its own. But since we are talking food pairing, the spicy Kung Pao Pork was a good choice- a very exotic wine had to be paired with an exotic dish. I would think the wine would go well with spicy Indian food as well. A bite of the spicy pork, followed by a sip of the wine and the freshness hits you. It has a very unique taste and yes, its a wine I would buy again.

Pairing wine and food is certainly an art and thanks to Chablis, I was able to kick start the series on my blog. Here is the recipe for the two take away dishes we love the most.

Kung Pao Pork (recipe adapted from here, originally from Easy Chinese Recipes by Bee Yinn Low)
Pork- 250 gms, cut into bite size cubes (I used diced pork leg)
Rice wine- 1 tsp
Corn flour- 1 tbsp
Sichuan peppercorn oil- 1 tsbp (recipe follows)
Garlic- 2 pods, peeled and finely chopped
Ginger- 1 inch piece, peeled and finely chopped
Dried red chillies- 7 to 8, de-seeded and slit
Peanuts- 2 tbsp, roasted
Spring onions- 2, cut into round + enough for garnish
Oil- 2 tbsp
Water- 1/4 cup

Sichuan peppercorn oil
Sichuan peppercorns- 5 gms
Oil- 1/4 cup

Dark soy sauce- 1 1/2 tbsp
Rice vinegar- 1 tsp
Rice wine- 1/2 tsp
Sugar- 1 tsp
Black pepper- 1/2 tsp
Water- 2 tbsp
Corn flour- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste
Make the Sichuan peppercorn oil first. Have the peppercorns ready in a heat proof bowl and heat the oil to smoking point (white smoke swirls are visible and you'd know its good to go). 
Pour it onto the peppercorns  stir well to release all that flavour and keep aside to cool for at least an hour or so for flavours to develop. The smell is divine.
Marinate the pork with rice wine and cornflour and keep aside for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl. Test for salt and add more if required.

When ready to cook, add 1/2 tbsp of oil into a wok on high heat.
When hot, throw in the marinated pork and stir fry on high heat till the pork is 3/4th cooked. It should be nice and charred outside. Keep stirring otherwise you might burn the pork.
Remove from wok and drain on paper towels.
Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining oil plus the sichuan peppercorn oil.
Once hot, into it add the garlic, ginger and dried red chillies. Stir fry till they are fragrant. Take care to not burn them though.
Return the fried pork to the wok and mix it all together.
Pour the sauce and water, stir well to coat the pork.
Cover and cook till the pork is done. About 8 to 10 minutes. Keep stirring in between and add more water if the sauce dries up.
Just before taking it off the fire, stir in the roasted peanuts and spring onion, give a final stir and serve hot with fried rice or plain jasmine rice.
Notes: Original recipe called for chicken. Follow same method for chicken.
Original recipe called for light soy sauce, but I didn't have any and used a smaller quantity of dark soy. Hence the deep colour of the dish.
The dish is crazy spicy, reduce the red chillies if you don't want it hot.
Pork takes longer to cook, so make sure the pieces are not too big and they are as even in size as possible

Steamed prawn and chive dumplings (makes around 20)
Prawns- 250 gms, finely chopped
Ginger- 1 tbsp, peeled and finely chopped
Garlic- 2 tbsp, peeled and finely chopped
Green chilli- 1 small, finely chopped 
Oyster sauce- 1/2 tbsp
Dark soy sauce- 1 tbsp
Chinese chives- 1 1/2 tbsp
Black pepper- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste
Dumpling wrappers- 20
Into a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients, except dumpling wrapper. Mix well.
Place a spoon full of the filling into the centre of each wrapper, wet the edges and seal the wrapper well. Make tiny pleats with the edged, although this step is completely optional.
Place a well oiled baking paper in a bamboo steamer and arrange the dumplings in it, without touching each other. (my bamboo steamer can take 5 dumplings at one time).
Bring some water in a wok or shallow skillet to boil and place a bamboo steamer on it. Make sure that the water level is not too much. The dumpling layer should sit above the level of water.
Close with the lid and steam for 10 to 12 minutes or till the wrappers become translucent and the prawns are cooked through.
Notes: You can replace dark soy with 1 1/2 tbsp of light soy
If Chinese chives are not available, use normal chives
The dumplings can be boiled as well. Drop them into boiling water and when they rise to the top, take them out with a slotted spoon and leave to drain. 
If you don't have bamboo steamer, a regular steamer works fine.

With thanks to Chablis for sending me the samples. 


divya said...

wow, this looks extremely delicious n awesome clicks..

Anonymous said...

I agree! Now my saliva is drooling looking those delicious food. I can't help it. Gosh.............. I wanna try this Kung Pao Pork at home, after having my flights to Morocco. thanks much for sharing your yummy recipe. :)

Jeanne said...

Beautiful shots - what perfect dumplings!! :o) And a great idea to pair the Chablis with Chinese - I love discovering a surprisingly good match :)

Anonymous said...

First of all let me tell you,i love the way you have styled the food and props look stunning.. So beautiful!!! I love dimsums...never tried it at home - sounds fairly easy to make.
I have always preferred white wine to red :)