Exotic Flavors Meet
Where else would Italy meet Thailand except in the pages of our local Santa Barbara County newspapers? Although the default approach to pairing spicy Asian cuisine is toward a sauvignon blanc, riesling or gewürztraminer, there are a number of local Italian varietals that can pair well with the exotic flavors of Thailand and Vietnam as well.
Kabocha is an Asian variety of winter squash, and commonly called Japanese pumpkin. It has a strong yet sweet flavor and moist, fluffy texture, which is like chestnuts. It is found in the market under such brand names as Miyako, Ebisu, Kurokawa and Akazukin.
Thai Kabocha Coconut Soup
2 lbs. kabocha (or butternut squash), peeled and diced
2 14-oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 c. vegetable broth
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce (optional)
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. curry powder
1 c. water
1/4 c. packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 c. peanuts, roughly chopped
Zest of 1 lime
1/2 tsp. red chili pepper flakes (optional)
Release pressure under running water, remove regulator and then remove lid. When cool enough to handle, peel squash and cut into chunks.
Place in a food processor along with coconut milk, vegetable broth, fish sauce, onion powder, brown sugar, sriracha sauce, lime juice, garlic powder and curry powder. (You may need to do this in batches, depending on your available equipment.)
Process until smooth, and then transfer to a dutch oven and simmer until all flavors have fully incorporated, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the gremolata. In a small bowl, stir together cilantro, peanuts, lime zest and red chili pepper flakes.
If necessary, add water in order to thin soup to desired consistency.
Serve soup warm and top with gremolata.
Pair this with Lucas & Lewellen’s 2013 Santa Barbara County Malvasia Bianca Secco, their first release of a dry style of the beloved Malvasia Bianca. This one has minimal sugar and sharp acidity with mineral complexity, but all the hedonistic perfume of lime and jasmine and round flavors of honey and pear with a lemon edge that Toccata Malvasia is known for. You will probably have to go to their tasting room on Copenhagen Drive in Solvang to pick this up.
As an alternative, try Lucas & Lewellen’s 2013 Santa Barbara County Pinot Grigio which can be found in many local grocery stores. Carefully tended in the vineyard and nurtured in the winery, these pinot grigio grapes produce the subtle aromas of lemon peel, lily flower, jasmine tea and pear. The wine is crisp with natural acidity developed in the grapes while growing in this cool climate. It is light and delicate with a bright finish.