Aviation Gin Blog
Cocktail Pairings: Vietnamese-Style Fish with Turmeric and Dill + Aviation Martini
Most food lovers have the classic pairings essentially memorized: pinot noir with mushrooms and earthy vegetables, cab with steak, sauvignon blanc with greens, and so on. In recent years, though, more and more chefs and bartenders have been paying attention to pairing cocktails with meals, and the principles remain the same — to look for a balance of flavors by either complementing or contrasting. Sharp and sharp mirror each other beautifully as Parmesan cheese and negronis; meanwhile, the contrasting approach has citrusy, crisp sherry cobblers cutting through the richness of duck for a pairing much greater than the sum of its parts.
This particular dish, Vietnamese-style fish with turmeric and dill (Cha Ca Than Long, originally posted at Culinary Chronicles), has a lot going on, especially when paired with an Aviation American Gin martini. As such, there are both complementary and contrasting elements.
I love Asian food with dry white wine, and a martini is really just a boozier expression of that pairing. The herbal notes in a dry vermouth and a fragrant citrus twist mimic my favorite characteristics in food-friendly white wine, while Aviation adds a woodsy, spicy, warming backbone. It’s a spirit-forward cocktail for a dish that can stand up to it, with loads of spice and complexity in its own right. The flavors are at once bright and deep; there’s a strong savory fish sauce base, and fragrant spiciness from fresh ginger.
What takes it over the top for me is fresh dill — lots and lots of fresh dill. It’s rarely recognized as a traditional southeast Asian herb; most often, you’ll see Thai basil or cilantro. Surprisingly (at least it was for me), dill is actually quite common in the cuisines of Laos and northern Vietnam. Here, it shows up in main-ingredient quantities, as opposed to the modest sprinklings herbs are usually relegated to.
Naturally, if you’re not up for cooking, an Aviation Martini doesn’t discriminate against takeout, either. No one delivers martinis last time we checked, but thankfully, those are as simple as cocktails get.
- 1 pound white mild fish, such as cod, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons fish sauch
- 1 teaspoon powdered tumeric
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons shallots, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 green onions, green and pale green parts only, cut into 1-inch sections
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
- 1 bunch dill, tough stems removed
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 8-oz package of rice noodles, cooked according to package directions (for serving)
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped (for serving)
- 1-2 fresh red Thai chiles, sliced thin (optional, for serving)
- To marinate the fish, combine the fish sauce, turmeric, garlic, ginger, shallots, 1 tablespoon dill, and about 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper in a large bowl. Mix marinade and add fish, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add the sliced onion and cook until soft and slightly translucent, then add 1/3 of the dill bunch, as well as about half of the green onion. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, then transfer everything to a plate and set aside.
- Heat up the remaining 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in the same skillet. Remove fish from the marinade and pat off excess marinade with paper towels. Pan-fry the fish in two batches for 2-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.
- Divide prepared rice noodles among 4 plates, then top with sauteed onion/dill mixture and fish. Top with remaining fresh dill and green onions, as well as the peanuts and red Thai chiles.
Ingredients for Aviation Martini
- 1 1/2 ounces Aviation American Gin
- 3/4 dry vermouth (Dolin Blanc used here)
- Lemon twist, for garnish
- Combine Aviation and vermouth in an ice-filled mixing glass and stir until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with lemon twist.
Here’s to eating and drinking well all winter!
-Danguole Lekaviciute, Aviation Team Member
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