Locals understand that the distinctive wines of Alsace require their own rules. Robust whites, such as riesling and gewurztraminer, are frequently served with game, and light fruity pinot noir is often paired with mild-tasting fish like this European pike perch, a member of the walleye family.
- 1 (5 1/2-lb.) whole walleye, tilapia, or other firm fish, cleaned
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 tbsp. butter
- 3 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 small yellow onions, peeled and chopped
- 3 small leeks, white parts only, washed and sliced
- 1 lb. white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
- 1 bottle Alsatian pinot noir or other light red wine
- 1 tsp. tomato paste
- 5 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
Rinse fish, pat dry, and season liberally inside and out with salt and pepper.
Place a metal roasting pan large enough to hold fish (about 18'' x 14'') over two burners. Melt butter over medium-low heat, add carrots, celery, onions, and leeks, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°. Stir in wine, tomato paste, bay leaves, thyme, and 1 cup water. Spread out vegetable mixture evenly. Place fish on top of vegetables, cover with aluminum foil, and braise, without turning, in oven until fish flakes easily, about 30 minutes.
Remove pan from oven. Using two spatulas, carefully transfer fish to a large serving platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while you finish sauce.
Place pan on two burners. Bring cooking liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring frequently to prevent vegetables from scorching, until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in cream, and simmer, stirring, until sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, spoon vegetables and sauce over fish.