Story & photos by Chef Dino Datu
I am far from being a drinker. While I do enjoy one or two cocktails (the sweeter ones) a handful of times a year, I never really developed a craving for anything alcoholic. I have also recently developed a liking to Moscato and some fruitier sparkling wines, but the proper red and whites, I leave for the grown-ups. As I’ve told a friend, my palate for alcohol seems to be stuck in my early teens. I’ve got a pa–tweetums palate when it comes to alcohol. Maybe it was all those bottles of Bartles and James me and my sister would drink whenever our parents were out of town. At around 12 or 13 years old, we’d feel like such cool kids drinking wine coolers whenever we’d be home alone for a few nights.
Cooking with alcohol, however, is an entirely different thing. While I wouldn’t go out of my way to include booze in my dishes, I appreciate the flavors that wine or liquor can add to a dish. Below are a few examples of dishes that have some wine or spirits in them. After the alcohol is cooked out of the wine or spirit, the remaining sweetness, acidity and all other caramel and woodsy flavors get left behind and impart a unique flavor to the dishes they are added to. I chose some of the simplest recipes where wine or liquor can and must be added. I hope you try them all.
Mahi-mahi with white wine and capers
A quick and easy dish which you can do in less than 15 minutes, this fish preparation should be an easy crowd-pleaser. Replace the mahi-mahi with other firm fish, like marlin or swordfish, or whatever is available.
- 4 mahi-mahi fillets
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced
- 3 tbsp capers
- 1/2 bar butter, kept cold and cubed
- Salt and pepper to taste
1 Season fish fillets with salt and pepper.
2 In a hot nonstick pan, pour oil sear fish, skin side first for about two minutes.
3 Turn fish and sear the other side for a minute more then take fish out.
4 In the same pan, add shallots and capers and the pour wine in.
5 Let wine simmer till reduced to a thick sauce and add cubes of butter, stirring and swirling the pan constantly.
6 Once butter is all melted, add fish back to reheat for about a minute.
7 Serve at once, spooning sauce and capers over the fish.
Image credits: Chef Dino Datu