The fish of many names, known as mahi-mahi, dorado, lampuga, rakingo, calitos, maverikos or dolphin fish, is fondly known in Malta as lampuka; and with the lampuki season well under way, we are entering that time of the month when the fish start to get bigger and traditional dishes like lampuki pie and aljotta will start to appear for a brief period of time on many restaurant menu’s or speciality boards. This fleshy versatile fish can of course be cooked in a number of ways, be it pan fried, oven baked, poached, grilled, barbequed, smoked or even raw as a carpaccio. In addition to that it is often stuffed, covered in herbs and spices or served up with a variety of sauces. So when it comes to pairing it up with wine, there are many things to consider, but thanks to Delicata’s extensive range of Maltese and Gozitan wines there are a lot of styles and flavours to choose from.
Each of the cooking processes used to prepare the lampuki, will in itself alter the flavour and sometimes the texture of the fish, even if no other ingredients are added. For example, a poached fish will result in a very clean flavoured fish meat that is both delicate and moist, whereas barbequed fish meat is often drier, with a tighter consistency and comes with a charred flavour. So in both cases a different wine would be needed. In this instance I would definitely recommend a crisp dry un-oaked white wine with the poached version, but for the barbecued version a full flavoured dry, possibly oak aged white wine would be needed or even a slightly chilled bottle of light bodied red.
Similarly, a fish cooked using the same process, but with different ingredients will also require a different wine. For example, a lampuka simply pan fried in a bit of butter will require a light clean style of white wine, whereas a lampuka pan fried with extra virgin olive oil and garlic and then topped with a caper sauce will require a completely different style of white wine that is softer and fuller flavoured. Basically, a good ‘rule of thumb’ is, the heavier the flavour of the finished dish, the fuller the wine needs to be, and lighter cleaner flavoured dishes need light clean tasting wines.
Here are a few of our recommended lampuki and wine combinations that work really well together. Plain poached or oven baked lampuka and Medina Chardonnay Girgentina, plain pan fried lampuki and Pjazza Regina White, plain grilled lampuki and Medina Chardonnay, lampuki carpaccio and Gran Cavalier Sauvignon Blanc, smoked lampuki and our Gold medal winning Gran Cavalier Chardonnay, aljotta (fish soup) and either Medina Rose Grenache or Silver medal winning Rossini Syrah Rose, lampuki with a strong sauce (ie caper sauce) with Grand vin de Hauteville Viognier, lampuki pie with Victoria Heights Chardonnay, barbequed or char grilled lampuki with Medina Syrah, Carignan, Grenache.
One combination that’s definitely worth a try is – lemon & garlic lampuki served with a chilled bottle of our 2014 vintage Medina Vermentino Zibibbo. The recipe for this deliciously fresh recipe is to take a large frying pan, heat some vegetable oil and then add a 6-8 ounce fillet of lampuka and cook until the underside is golden brown. Then turn the fish over and add a tablespoon of chopped garlic, the juice of 1 lemon and about a quarter of a cup of a decent white wine. Once the wine and lemon juice have cooked down, add 1 ounce of cubed unsalted butter. Finish cooking and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Accompany this with some fresh rocket lightly drizzled with the slightest touch of sweet chilli sauce and some fresh Maltese bread and then simply wash down with a cold glass of refreshing, aromatic, fruity dry Medina Vermentino Zibibbo . Perfect!