Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Food Pairings – Tinned Sardines in EVOO with White Puerh Tea

A simple man’s adaptation of the gastronomical delights of pairing fish and white wine. Here I humbly present tinned sardines and white puerh tea.

Now before you start laughing and think that he must be slipping ... I assure you, it works.
At least for me :)

One of my favorite go to meal or snack for convenience is tinned sardines with bread + a few additions to liven up the taste buds. What’s more this easy to prepare dish goes wonderfully well with freshly brewed white puerh tea. The combination may appear odd to some but I encourage you to try it (or perhaps not, see Additional Note).

This 2004 white puerh tea is a bit challenging to brew. When the water is too hot, there is a tightness to the brew and the taste becomes overwhelmingly vegetal. If the water is too cool, the aromatics can not be drawn out and the brew lacks fullness. Get it just right and you are rewarded with an alluring sweetness accompanied by subtle characteristics that shows both richness and depth.

The oiliness of the sardines together with the EVOO that is added to the tin presents a mild and delicate flavor that pairs well with the subtle characters of white puerh tea. Drinking the tea helps cut through the oiliness and neutralizes the fishiness of the sardines. The oil from the sardines in turn enhances the aromatics of the tea and takes the sweetness and subtle characters of the tea to new heights. - To fully take in the delicate taste of the fish and subtleties of the tea I avoid overpowering sauces and strong herbs and condiments.

Additional Note: I report this with sadness. It has recently come to my attention that the population of sardines have plummeted at an alarming rate. The commercial fishing season for Pacific sardines along the West Coast of America for 2015-2016 is suspended to allow the species to recover. According to the fish stock assessment from 2007 to 2015 the sardine population has fallen 90% along the West Coast. Sardine stocks from elsewhere around the world also appears to be on the decline. As a regular consumer of tinned sardines I share this news with other sardine lovers out there. Whether you wish to store additional tins in the event of a likely future sardine scarcity or you wish to nobly remove yourself as a consumer to lower market demand the choice is yours. As for myself I will no longer be buying tinned sardines for this year, as I have just returned with 30 tins from a weekend purchase not long ago. My rather pitiful excuse is that sardines that have already been tinned can no longer swim back to the sea.

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