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I'm planning a scallop seviche (ceviche?) and I want to serve a sparkling wine with it. The dish will be sea scallops "cooked" in lemon, orange, and grapefruit juices; served over diced cantelope or papaya (whichever is available); topped with torn mint leaves, finely sliced Thai chilis, and a drizzle of hazelnut oil.

There's a sprinkling of sugar in the citrus juices and red grapefruit juice is used for additional sweetness. With these components and the diced fruit, I rounded the citrus twang so the taste is not harshly sour. The zest from the three citrus fruits is included for aroma. The hazelnut oil adds an additional rich aroma and flavor.

Any sparkling wine suggestions to go with this dish? I first thought of a brut, but against the tart quality of the seviche, the overall effect might be too dry. So I'm leaning more toward an off-dry or demi style. Something creamy would be nice too. And if I can get the scent and/or flavor of citrus and toasted nuts, all the better! (I'm asking too much, aren't I?)

Your suggestions will be appreciated and I'll follow-up with how the pairing turns out when I prepare the dinner in a few weeks.
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Originally posted by spo1977:
sea scallops "cooked" in lemon, orange, and grapefruit juices

Let me know how that turns out. I have never heard of anyone using Grapefruit before.

I've worked out the recipe so it's really very good. It originally started with lemon, lime, and orange juices, but I felt it was too strongly tart. It would have been great in the summertime with a beer, but too brash for a comfortable sit-down dinner.

Substituting the lime juice with the mellower red grapefruit juice worked really well. Red grapefruit juice turns out to be the key citrus because it provides both sweet and tang and a little bit of bitterness. Orange and lemon juice amplify the sweet and tang of the grapefruit juice. Then I added more lemon juice to get the needed acidity to work the scallops, followed by just enough sugar to round out any harsh sourness. Finally, the chilis give the necessary heat. The combination follows the Southeast Asian flavor balance of hot, sour, salty, and sweet. The hazelnut oil--with its aroma and flavor--adds depth to the high notes of citrus.

After a two-hour soak, the scallops (sliced a quarter-inch thick) turned the expected opaque but were still voluptuous and sweet.
I added avacado and cilantro for a thanksgiving ceviche. The avacado adding some fat to balance the heat from serrano peppers. Personally I left out the lemon and sugar and went with lime and orange for less tartness and more natural sweetness.

It was served as a walk around appitizer. Most of us were drinking 1995 Charles Ellner Brut, which went very well. I think one of the richer, rounder, leeser champagnes would work, Ellner and Bollinger are ones I like.

Ceviche is also damn good with Margatini's:

1 1/2 ounces fresh lime
1 1/2 ounces Cointreau
2 ounces 100% Blue Agave Tequila (blanco or reposado)

shake in a martini shaker over ice and serve straight up in a 6oz martini glass with a lightly salted rim.

1 part fresh red grapefruit juice
1 part fresh orange juice
2 parts fresh lemon juice
equal proportions of zest from each fruit (extract zest from the lemon first since it's likely to produce the least amount)

You should have enough total juice to ensure submerging your scallops. For my tests, I extracted a quarter cup each of red grapefruit and orange juices and half a cup of lemon juice. With the added oils to come, the total liquid easily covered the quarter-inch slices of six scallops.

Whisk in all the zest.

Taste the juice mix. Obviously, you'll taste lemon the most, but you should also taste grapefruit. The orange will be more subtle, but its function is to tame the sour twang from the lemon. If it's too harshly lemon, add more orange or grapefruit juice to compensate. Remember that sugar, chopped fruit, and oil will moderate some of the sour twang, so don't make it too sweet.


Whisk in enough salt so you can taste it.

sugar (optional)

Whisk in enough finely ground sugar (bar sugar or superfine sugar) so that any bleeding edge of sour is softened to something that's still tart (you need the acid for the scallops), but not so sour that you can't have wine with it. If it already tastes good to you, don't add sugar. (I have been wondering about using honey instead of sugar, but I haven't tried it yet.)

neutral oil (safflower, sunflower, canola, grape seed, etc.)

Like the salt and sugar, I didn't measure the oil. All I know is that I up-ended the bottle and poured until the first surge of oil surfaced. My guess is a quarter cup of oil for my one cup of juice. Whisk together.

hazelnut oil

Again, I didn't measure. I just whisked in a tablespoon's worth at a time until I could smell and taste the hazelnuts. I guess there were two or three tablespoons hazelnut oil to my initial cup of juice.


For my test, I used six U10 scallops. Naturally, you can use as many scallops as the fruit juice can submerge. I sliced each scallop into quarter-inch discs--perhaps three or four per scallop (I erred on the side of thicker slices than thinner). Then I added the sliced scallops to the juice mix, stirred, covered the bowl, and placed it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

cantaloupe / papaya / other available melon
Thai chilies (the red ones look best)
fresh mint

Although a ripe melon would be great, my test used a cantaloupe that wasn't quite ripe and the dish was still good. The musky flavor of melon seemed more important than its sweetness once the dish was finished.

Dice the melon flesh. Since my cantaloupe wasn't very soft, I diced it fine. Put a small handful of melon on the bottom of a bowl. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of juice mix over the melon and mix together.

Arrange slices of "cooked" scallop on top of the melon.

Tear the mint leaves with your hands and let them fall into the bowl (as much as you think is right).

Slice the chilies into thin rings and sprinkle them on top of all (as much as you think is right).

Drizzle a few spoonfuls of juice mix on top of everything,

Take a whiff of the arrangement. If you don't smell hazelnuts, drizzle a little more hazelnut oil on top.

I opted to not include the chilies in the juice mix because I have friends who shy away from constant chili heat. Adding the chilies at the end restricts any chili heat to just the slices. I found this fun in its own way--the occasional slice gives up a pop of chili heat and flavor, then quickly subsides.
Originally posted by spo1977:
For your ceviche recipe would you mind giving me specific proportions?

Would you reccomend this grapefruit type if I was going to make ceviche with fish?

I don't see why not. The fact that this mix uses grapefruit juice shouldn't matter as long as the fish is absolutely fresh and there's no offense having the flavor of grapefruit.
Originally posted by coolbronson:
dannyc, have you done seviche with poultry? Thank you in advance.

I have not prepared seviche with poultry. I did a quick search and found a Panamanian seviche using chicken:

Ceviche de Pollo

Scroll down to see it. It does instruct cooking the chicken in a conventional manner until it's done before soaking the meat in citrus juices.

Chemically speaking, "cooking" raw poultry flesh with citrus acid should work, and I suspect it would be pretty tasty too, although the texture might be, um, different. But I'd be weary only because I don't know if citrus acid would render avian-borne illnesses safe for human consumption.

Thanks for the details. My dad is from Peru and he just gave me his traditional ceviche recipe. It is here if you are interested.

Fresh White Fish

Any of the following

Red Snapper
Sea Bass
Orange Roughie

Cut into 3/4 inch cubes.

Place in glass or ceramic bowl.

Soak in lime juice at least 20 minutes but as much as 45 minutes. You can even do it overnight if you want.

Before serving add
crushed garlic and cilantro to taste.
thin sliced red onion
kosher or sea salt
and thin sliced serrano

And if you want to go all the way and do it Peruvian style serve with corn on the cob and sweet potatoe at room temperature.
Last edited by spo
I finally had my tasting. but it wasn't without a little drama on the side. I won't get into that here, but I didn't have the opportunity to taste the Mumm Cordon Rouge as planned. I replaced it with a Shadow Creek Blanc de Noirs. It's description read "aromatic and fruity aromas that express cherries and toasted hazelnuts. Medium bodied; fresh berry flavors with accents of tangerine." That sounded close enough for me. Then, before I left the shop, I had a what-the-heck moment and bought a bottle of Veuve Cliquot Demi-Sec. Just for study, of course.

I should point out right now that I don't remember the details of the tastings. I was anxious to find out which sparkler would work, so I didn't think to get my notebook for documentation. After the equivalent of a dozen glasses of wine, I remember only general impressions. But that's okay because I decided which was the right one after the second round. The rest of the glasses were just fun. And, as a bonus, the review here will be relatively short, in my long-winded way. :-)

My first taste was with the Ruggeri Prosecco di Valdobbiadene. The flavors of the seviche and the prosecco were pleasant together, followed by a soft lemony aftertaste. The finish didn't last very long; the flavors just stopped after the lemony finish, as though everything cancelled each other. A little surprising and not how I like flavors to end.

My second taste was with the Shadow Creek Blanc de Noirs. This wine was bold and aggressive. I first thought it would be a good match, but I realized the flavors between the wine and the seviche did not play well together, as though they were fighting for my attention. After I swallowed, I tasted only the wine and none of the seviche. I didn't care for how the wine took over.

My third taste was with the Toques et Clochers Cremant de Limoux. It and the seviche danced a fine dance together. The flavors were very complementary, the wine giving the seviche a sense of softness on my palate. After I swallowed, the finish was both crisp and creamy. It was refreshing, like downing a great oyster.

Veuve Cliquot Demi-Sec was last. The flavor combination here was wonderful. The difference was distinct compared to Toques et Clochers, and definitely a different class compared to the first two wines. It was the only wine to actually add flavors. I remember saying to myself "summer fruits and spices". The seviche tasted sweeter, both in terms of sugar and a fuller taste of the scallops. After swallowing, the finish was not as crisp as the Toques et Clochers, but it was very nice anyway.

So, the taste winner for me was Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec. Don't mistake: I'm not saying the taste combination was nirvana or that it brought tears to my eyes or anything remotely close. But for anyone who has doubts about wine and seviche (well, specifically, this not-very-aggressively-tart-and-mildly-nutty seviche), the Veuve Clicquot pairing will change your mind.

Sadly, Veuve Clicquot is not in my budget. So the one I'll stock for the party is Toques et Clochers Cremant de Limoux. Between it's taste and $12 a bottle, it's a happy choice.

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