Flounder with Lady Pea Succotash and Vidal Blanc
By Linda Kissam
Today’s wine and food pairing celebrates Southern cuisine in Birmingham, Alabama.
If you haven’t been in a while, today Birmingham is a lively hub of cultural and culinary activities and engaging historical sites. It also has beautiful golf courses, year-round events, extraordinary shopping and world-class dining. On a recent three-day trip there, I spent some time finding out what makes this city a destination. It has a little bit of everything to share with tourists.
Flounder with Lady Pea Succotash
Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham
Excerpted from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table by Frank Stitt (Published by Artisan Books). Copyright © 2004.
If lady peas are not available, substitute favas or sweet peas.
Select regional wines to accompany a regional dish: Ozan VIDAL BLANC 2006
This French-Hybrid white grape was fermented to dryness in neutral French barrels and is best served chilled. While great alone parings with light meals, salads or hors d’Oeuvres make the day.
1/2 small red onion, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
1 cup cooked lady peas (or substitute pink-eyes, crowders or cranberry beans; see recipe on page 15 of Frank Stitt’s Southern Table for cooking instructions)
1/4 cup pot liquor from the peas, reserved
2 tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 ears corn, husked, boiled for 4 minutes, and kernels cut off the cob
1/2 small shallot, finely minced
4 basil leaves, torn into small pieces
4 sprigs dill leaves, coarsely chopped
A few chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling if desired
Four 6- to 8-ounce flounder fillets, skin on or skinless
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as canola
1 lemon, cut into wedges
To make the succotash, prepare a hot grill or preheat the broiler. Grill or broil the onion slices, turning once, until lightly charred on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Let cool, then cut into 1/4-inch-dice.
In a large bowl, combine the charred onion, peas, tomatoes, corn, shallot, basil, dill and chives. Stir in the sherry vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the olive oil; taste, and adjust the seasoning. Set aside.
To prepare the fish, heat a heavy skillet just large enough to hold the fillets over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the hot skillet and heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to medium, place fillets skin side up in the skillet, and cook until nicely golden on the first side, 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully turn the fish and cook until just done, another 3 to 4 minutes. (Peek inside one fillet to check for doneness — the thickest part should have turned to pearly white.) While the fish finishes cooking, add the succotash and pea pot liquor to a sauté pan and cook over medium heat until heated through. Transfer the fish to serving plates and serve with the succotash and lemon wedges. Drizzle each fillet with a splash of olive oil, if desired.
The Alabama Department of Tourism has a mobile app you might want to download called, “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.” The mobile app tempts users to sample some of Alabama’s best local restaurants.
Among the favored dishes: Baked grits from Highlands Bar and Grill, broiled seafood platter from The Bright Star, Baby Bleu Salad from the Homewood Gourmet, Athenian grouper from the Fish Market, a Pork-Stuffed Tater from Saw’s BBQ, and Bouillabaisse from Hot and Hot Fish Club.
Thirty-six high-definition images of different signature dishes from some of Alabama’s local restaurants and state-wide chains are laid-out gallery-style. For more information, visit www.artofalabamafood.com.