Moroccan Baked Fish

BY BILL ST. JOHN
To paraphrase St. Paul: In wine there are acid, sweet, tannin, and alcohol, but the greatest of these is acid. Acidity — that tangy, zesty finale to a sip of wine, that which sweeps the palate clean — is crucially important to delicious, successful wine and food pairings. It balances wine against any correlative acidity in the food prepared, as here, with its ample orange and lemon citric acid. The two acidities, interestingly, cancel each other out and a taste of both together is refreshing and cleansing, not tart or sour. The key, then, is white or red wine that's crisp.

Here’s what you'll need:

• 1-1/2 pounds cod or snapper
• 2 cloves garlic
• 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
• 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley
• 3/4 cup fresh cilantro
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp orange juice
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp hot paprika
• 1 tsp lemon zest
• 1/2 coriander seed
• 1/8 tsp saffron
• 1/8 tsp cinnamon
• 1/8 tsp cayenne
• salt

Here’s what you do:

Makes 4 servings
In a blender, combine: 2 cloves garlic; 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger; 3/4 cup each of loosely packed flat-leaf parsley & cilantro leaves; 3 tablespoons olive oil; 2 tablespoons orange juice; 1 teaspoon each of cumin, hot paprika, & lemon zest; 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed; 1/8 teaspoon each of saffron, cinnamon & cayenne. Blend to a paste. Season 1-1/2 pounds cod or snapper filets with salt; rub in half the spice mixture. Bake in a baking dish in a 450-degree oven until just cooked through, about 13 minutes. Thin the remaining spice mixture with orange juice to make a smooth sauce; spoon over fish.

And the wines!

2017 Médimer Piquepoul | South of France
Bright acidity, but with an almost tropical lushness, with aromas and tastes of pineapple, pear, and spice, and a tangy finish.

2015 Ch. Courtinat St-Pourcain "Cuvée des Perelles" Rouge
A blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay for both gobs of aroma of cranberry and bay, very delicate tannin and a zesty finish; perfect for fleshy fish.

2015 PIP Chardonnay | Sonoma Coast, California
Ripe yellow fruit aromas and tastes, hinting at minerals and vanilla bean, with tangy acidity at the close.