I’m rather proud of these Seared Sea Scallops with Saffron Broth and Sautéed Fennel but I really can’t take all the credit. My partner Ken had a lot to do with the flavors you see on this plate. He returned from a recent wine media tasting event excited about the wines of New Zealand. One particular winery defied all his notions about the land next door to the land down under. The explosive flavors of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are well-known, but Greywacke is creating wines with a complexity he had not expected. Especially the 2015 Greywacke Wild Sauvignon. He immediately got on the phone and bought a bottle, then asked me to pair this wine with dinner – tonight.
I enjoy cooking, but a short-order cook I am not!
Fortunately, I had already had a lead on some well-priced scallops. Their clean flavor plays nicely against the luxury of crisp wine. Searing the scallops until caramelized at the edges brings out a sweetness that can soften the sharp finish often found in sauvignon blanc. So I figured I had a plan that got me halfway there.
But what about the rest of the way? Would I need a map?
Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2015
Pairs well with seafood, fish, oysters, goat cheese, asparagus, artichoke
Usually, when we match food and wine we ask ourselves the question, “what wine would go best with these Scallops with Saffron Broth?”
In fact, it’s questions like these that justify Ken’s rather deep home wine collection. It’s the same reason restaurants maintain long and varied wine lists.
However, in the case of these scallops, Ken had the wine in mind and I had to build the recipe to match the wine. Which seems like a daunting challenge. After all, pairing food and wine is very mysterious, right? But in truth, we make choices of what we want to eat and drink all the time. So why do we give wine so much baggage? The simple trick is to make simple variations, with the wine in mind, to whatever recipe you’ve already chosen.
Sauvignon blanc is an aromatic white wine. It’s an easy choice for food that screams for white wine. Scallops (almost always) scream for white wine. So (as I said) I had a place to start.
However, I was a little thrown by a comment to Ken from the Greywacke winemaker Kevin Judd that the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon would work nicely with seafood in a red wine sauce. While I wasn’t quite ready to slather my delicate scallops in red wine sauce this hint did convince me to go bold.
Scallops with Saffron Broth
I may not be a wine guy in quite the way my guy Ken is. But I do know that you can’t go wrong when it comes to wine if you let your nose be the boss. The Greywacke Wild Sauvignon has a nose that includes what wine geeks call anise. That’s fennel to us food geeks. So fennel was where I started. But another whiff revealed a dried floral hint of saffron. Saffron is always best when it’s just a hint. So that’s how I got to Scallops with Saffron Broth and Sautéed Fennel.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with drinking whatever you like with whatever you’re eating. Because if you follow your own tastes you will intuitively feel that the wine and food were made for each other. And that’s precisely the map I followed here. GREG