The silver pomfret can grow to more than three metres long but most farmed pomfret is reared to be a plate-friendly size. It's usually a flavourful sweet fish, although some of the farmed versions taste muddy and earthy. When cooked Chiu Chow style, the fish benefits from lots of flavour highlights from ingredients such as dried mandarin peel and Chinese mushrooms. The mandarin peel gives direction to the fish while the mushroom adds to the base-note flavours. In the traditional preparation, half of the wild pomfret is deep fried with the bones while the other side is steamed. A wine to complement Chiu Chow-style steamed pomfret needs to respect the dish's delicate fishiness and the gentle texture of the flesh. Champagne bubbles work well to caress the fish and yeasty ageing adds depth in much the same way as the mushrooms do.
Charles Melton Rose of Virginia 2009, Barossa Valley, Australia
I've written about this wine many times, and why not? It's a wonderful rose that goes with many dishes. It's been around for more than 20 years and is made with loving care. It's one of the original dry ros?s, which are all the rage today. It's a delicious match with Chiu Chow-style steamed pomfret. The red fruity notes give the fish a bright and lively freshness while taking it on a path much closer to the mushroom earthiness. The soy sauce dressing and mandarin peel wrap the flavours tightly.
Available for HK$209 at Oliver's (tel: 2869 5119)
Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Elisabeth Rose 2000, Champagne, France
This champagne is more polished than ever. The Elisabeth Salmon of the 1980s had hints of savoury rustiness; today, the champagne is more fruit focused, with a more consistent palate rather than stimulating flavour bumps. The mandarin peel of Chiu Chow-style pomfret brings the dish and this drink together while adding highlights and punctuated flavour marks. The extended ageing of the wine gives more varied depth to the mushroom and soy sauce notes of the fish. The gentle bubbles cushion the fish on the palate and deliver a subtle and integrated flavour parcel.
Available for HK$1,188 at Oliver's
Barons de Rothschild Rose NV, Reims, France
This rose champagne has solid flavours, even if it lacks finesse and complexity. The straight- forward fruit flavours make this a fine pairing with succulent Chiu Chow pomfret. The mandarin peel works with both the champagne and the fish while the mushroom adds depth to the ros? in the way that extended ageing on lees does. All in all, it's a pleasing and enjoyable mouthful.
Available for HK$850 from Enoteca (tel: 2577 0889)