Summer presents the perfect opportunities for exploring new wines with friends or family. It’s great to sit outside and sip a variety of wines finding what makes your taste buds light up with delight. Enjoy the season while you can, making the most of the warmth and vitamin D.
For the second installment of our wine series, Angela Aiello enjoys the patio weather with Chef Nick Liu of DaiLo and gets the dish on his thoughts about Vinho Verdes.
It’s summer and I’m taking the chance to get to know 5 Chefs from across Toronto and having food and wine conversations over a bottle of Aveleda wine. Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal is a refreshing, light and crisp wine— perfect for sipping on a patio and can be paired with all kinds of great summer fare.
This time around, I sit down with Nick Liu from College Street’s DaiLo restaurant and we talk about what he loves about the wine and what he would pair with it. Liu is dominating the culinary scene and his restaurant is one of the hottest in Toronto right now. Voted as one of the Top 100 Chefs from Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants, this kick-ass ninja chef knows how to deliver on exquisite taste and top-notch ingredients with his notorious flare for local and exquisite use of Asian flavours. Liu grew up in Markham, just north of the city. His father, ethnically Chinese and Indian, was born in Kolkata; his mother, of Hakka descent, was born in South Africa. He’s had a plethora of experience cooking in the city and he shares with us this mouth-watering recipe to pair with Aveleda from Portugal.
Angela Aiello: What’s your favourite place to sip on a refreshing glass of white wine like Portugal’s Aveleda Vinho Verde?
Chef Nick Liu: On a patio or in the park. It has to be somewhere outside.
AA: Who most inspires you in your cooking philosophy?
NL: The Hakka Chinese people. They created Asian flavours in foreign lands using local ingredients.
AA: What is the most challenging thing about being a chef?
NL: Organizing my personal life.
AA: What do you love most about the Toronto culinary scene?
AA: When you were thinking about a dish to pair with the Aveleda what kind of ideas came to mind?
NL: I wanted to pair it with something very fresh and aromatic. I also automatically thought of a canapé because of its slight frizzy texture on the palate. A lightly smoked fish I also thought would go great with vinho verde’s citrusy apple notes.
AA: What did you think about this wine/these wines? Any recommendations you would like to share with us?
NL: Vinho Verde is a great wine to share with company during the summer days. The light crisp palate allows guest to keep sipping and the low price allows me never to run out!
AA: Can you explain your dish and why it pairs with Aveleda?
NL: My dish is Smoked and Cured Trout. With Thai aromatics like lemongrass, lime leaf, basil, mint, shallot and folded into a coconut almond satay sauce. This is then spooned on a betel leaf which is slightly peppery, herbal and floral.
Smoked Trout on Betel Leaf
The Fish (start this dish a few days before, or the night before you need it)
1 side Ontario trout
4 cups cold water
0.5 cup sugar
0.5 cup salt
1 cup apple wood smoked chips
- Combine the water, sugar and salt, stirring until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Tip: add mirepoix, spices and herbs to your brine and your fish will pick up those flavours.
- Submerge your trout in the brine and place in the fridge for 6-12 hours. Remove from the brine and pat dry with paper towel.
- Smoke your fish in a bbq. Place the fish skin side down on a cider wood plank. Turn half the bbq on low heat. Ignite the wood chips in a metal baking pan and place directly over the heat in the bbq. Place the fish and plank on the unlit side of the bbq and close the lid. Let the trout hot smoke until cooked through, roughly 7-12 min. Remove the fish from the heat and let cool. In a bowl flake the fish meat and discard the skin. Place in an airtight container and store until needed. Stating the obvious: you can purchase pre-smoked fish and skip this step.
Almond Satay Sauce
1 cup coconut cream
3 tbsp fried garlic chili shrimp sauce (may be sold in stores as XO sauce)
0.5 cup ground almond
0.33 cup coconut sugar (palm sugar)
0.33 cup tamarind puree
0.33 cup fish sauce
Whisk the ingredients together until the sugar dissolves. Place in an air tight container until ready to use. Tip: for an even tastier sauce, heat your mixture in a pot and simmer for a minute or two to bring all the flavours together.
Smoked trout meat
1 shallot, finely sliced
2 tbsp lemongrass, finely sliced
2 tbsp lime leaf, fine sliced julienne
2 tbsp thai basil, ruff chopped
2 tbsp coriander, ruff chopped
1 long red chili, cut in half, de-seeded, and julienne
0.5 cup satay sauce
20 betel leaves
Lay out your betel leaves shiny side up on a cocktail platter or wooden serving board. Combine all of the other ingredients and mix together in a stainless steel bowl with a rubber spatula. Tip: when mixing your ingredients be gentle. Try to keep your fish intact, your aim is to maintain the fishes flakiness. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of the fish mix in the center of each of the betel leaves.
When presenting your smoked trout betel leaves to your guests, instruct them to eat it like a soft taco. Enjoy!