As the very welcome rain was pouring down in Northern California last weekend, I suddenly wished I could have shared my Moroccan spiced fish stew dinner with my East coast relatives and colleagues who were stranded by what we now are calling the record-setting blizzard of 2016. I opened a bottle of the relativity low-priced, but great quality red wine from the well-established Southern Hungarian town of Villány: Gere Portugieser.
Since German settlers brought innovative techniques and the Portugieser grape with them to the region, it has become a local treasure. The winemaker, Attila Gere, first took interest in the future of Villány wines while tasting the home-made versions served by his father-in-law. Gere became obsessed with the potential of the area and when the Communist regime was dissolved in the early 90’s, Attila Gere winery was established.
In Hungary, the grape was once known as Kékoportó or “blue Portuguese” but has been renamed Portugieser in recent times. Aged in stainless steel after fermentation in wild yeast, the wine has a deep color, and is more fuller-bodied than wines aged in oak. The variety’s naturally low levels of acidity mean that Portugieser wines should be drunk in their youth.
It was an excellent complement and stood up well to the spices in my Moroccan fish stew.Whether you are looking at pairing a red with a hearty peasant soup, a lamb stew or even a wood-oven fired pizza, the Gere Portugieser will not disappoint with its wild berry flavor and full-bodied bite. Salud!
Try the Moroccan fish stew for yourself:
3/4 c. couscous
spicy stewed fish
11 oz. white fish
peeled tin of chopped tomatoes
Handful of chickpeas
2 cloves of garlic
1 fresh red chilli
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp tumeric
½ tsp ras el hanout
pinch of cayenne pepper
Handful of fresh basil
Salt / pepper
Pour the couscous into a bowl and drizzle over 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Squeeze about ¾ of the juice from one lemon into the bowl, add salt and pepper, then slowly add boiling water until the couscous is covered. Place a plate or clingfilm over the bowl for 10 minutes to allow the couscous to soak up the water.
Place a large saucepan on a medium heat. Finely chop the chilli, crush the garlic and pick the basil leaves from the stalks. Set aside the smaller leaves and roughly chop the larger leaves.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the saucepan then add the chilli, garlic, all spices, and the chopped basil leaves. Stir well then set the fish fillets on top.
Add the tinned tomatoes and chickpeas then squeeze in the remaining juice from the lemon. Once the sauce has started to bubble, put a lid on the saucepan, turn down the heat and simmer for 8 minutes until the fish has cooked through.
Taste the sauce and add more seasoning if required. Spoon the couscous into a large bowl then top with the stew and scatter over the smaller basil leaves.
Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Moroccan Stewed Fish with Couscous