I was interested to read in the Telegraph this weekend that Ken Hom is planning to move from his French base in Cahors to spend more time in Italy and Thailand.
Born to Cantonese parents, raised in Chicago and based for many years in California he’s the most sophisticated and cosmopolitan of cooks with an equally impressive knowledge of wine.
I’ve always found his recipes both inspiring and reliable and particularly like the sound of the ones that are featured in Xanthe Clay’s Telegraph feature which are all based on Japanese soy sauce, a surprisingly wine-friendly ingredient. Here are my wine suggestions to match:
Steamed Cantonese-style fish
At first chance this sounds like a delicate dish of steamed fish flavoured with spring onions and ginger but it’s flavoured with Japanese soy sauce and finished with hot groundnut and sesame oil and fresh coriander which gives it quite a kick.
It’s the kind of dish with which I’d actually enjoy drinking Champagne or a full-flavoured sparkling wine (a good quality or vintage Cava would actually work well) but you could equally well serve a minerally, dry Riesling from Germany, Alsace or Austria. And if the dish was accompanied by the sautéed girolle mushrooms he suggests you could also serve a young white burgundy such as a Puligny Montrachet or a premier cru Chablis.
Asian-flavoured grilled steak with roast potatoes
The marinade ingredients are the key to this wine match - Japanese soy sauce, Teriyaki marinade and sesame oil. Their salty character and the chargrilled meat will tame any tannins so it’s a good opportunity to bring out a good young Bordeaux (Merlot dominated blends will work better than Cabernet dominated ones, I think) or other muscular Merlot. Note though that the delicious-sounding sesame oil and shallot dressing probably won’t do the wine many favours.
Asparagus with mustard dressing
A vinaigrette with a twist for the last of the home grown asparagus if you can still lay your hands on some. Again the dressing includes soy sauce which will make it a little more salty and savoury than usual. Not enough though, I think, to overwhelm the taste of the asparagus so I’d still go for my usual preferred match of a Sauvignon Blanc, maybe the lesser known Reuilly from the Loire which has a slightly more rustic, earthy character.