This elegant dish makes use of strongly flavored herbs as a compliment to the meaty texture of mahi-mahi. Along with white wine, clam juice is added to give it a briny edge.

Mahimahi with herbed white wine sauce

¼ c. pine nuts

1 c. bottled clam juice

¼ c. dry white wine (see pairing below)

1 medium shallot minced

1 Tbsp. finely chopped thyme

1 Tbsp. finely chopped marjoram

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Four 6-oz. skinless mahimahi fillets (or red snapper or sea bass)

Olive oil for rubbing

2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a small saucepan, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, shaking the pan a few times, until the nuts are fragrant (about 1 minute). Transfer to a plate.

Add the clam juice to the saucepan and boil over high heat until reduced by half (about 5 minutes). Add the wine and boil until reduced to ¼ c. (about 5 minutes). Add the shallot, thyme and marjoram and season with salt and pepper. Cover the sauce and keep warm.

Light a grill. Rub the fish fillets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, turning once, until nicely charred and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to plates. Note: I’m not very good at grilling fish directly on the grate, so I usually lay down some aluminum foil and pinch the sides upward to form a “pan” that will hold the juices, and then spray the aluminum it with some oil before laying down the fish.

Stir the parsley into the wine sauce. Spoon the sauce over the fish, sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve.

Pair this dish with the 42nd vintage of Brander Vineyard’s flagship sauvignon blanc, a wine comprised of juice from 50% estate grown fruit, 40% Mesa Verde Vineyard, and the rest from surrounding vineyards in the Los Olivos District. During harvest, grapes are picked at different levels of ripeness resulting in a wine that is balanced and has complementary levels of concentration, fruit, and acidity. With consistent tropical, herbal, and citrus notes, this approachable wine exhibits classical sauvignon blanc flavors and is their best-selling wine vintage after vintage.

While completing his enology studies in the early 1970s, Fred Brander began his wine career working at a Santa Barbara wine merchant. Longing to make his own wines, Brander and his father purchased a 40-acre property in Los Olivos. His first sauvignon blanc harvest in 1977 won Santa Barbara County’s first gold medal at a major wine competition. The three flags that wave proudly over the chateau and tasting room make reference to his family roots: Sweden, Argentina and the U.S.

Brander’s pursuit to produce the best sauvignon blanc in California is documented in various publications and by the numerous awards that these wines have received.


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John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at sacredmeals@comcast.net.