Oven-roasted Snoek with Sweet Potato Salad paired with Piekenierskloof Chenin Blanc

Growing up on a farm close to the West Coast, snoek and sweet potatoes form part of your DNA. That was the only fish that was ever braaied over the coals on our family farm, Bergendal, high up on the plateau of the Piekenierskloof mountains. My dad, Carel van Zyl, was a master at braaiing snoek. Whenever the smous visited the farm, he always kept a few fat ones aside for a braai. Nobody could interfere while he was braaiing. While happily gathering around the fire, everybody’s glasses was filled with a chilled Piekenierskloof Chenin Blanc.

The Piekenierskloof Chenin Blanc are pressed from the grapes of bush vineyards, producing tasty notes of stone fruit, dried peaches and apricots. This pairs beautifully with the more robust flavours of snoek which I have enriched with citrus, the noble fruit of the Citrusdal area. A sprinkling of pecan nuts and coriander leaves add an interesting twist to it. Serve an oven-roasted sweet potato salad with the fish, also splashed with a tangy citrus dressing and you can sit down to a meal fit for a king, especially if you enjoy it with a glass of Piekenierskloof Chenin Blanc. Ideal for an outdoor feast or even a stylish dinner.

Recipe by Carmen Niehaus.

Serves 4 people
Preparation time: 10 min
Cooking time: 20—25 min

80ml (1/3c) olive oil
80ml (1/3c) orange juice
Grated rind of 1 orange
15ml (1T) apple- or rice vinegar
7,5 ml (11/2 t) soy sauce
15–30ml (1–2T) brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

3 orange sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
45ml (3T) olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 medium snoek, cleaned and butterflied
Salt and pepper to taste
5ml (1t) fish spice, mustard powder or Chinese 5-spice (optional)
80–125ml (80–1/2c) olive oil
6 cloves garlic, halved
Juice and grated rind of 2 oranges
Juice and rind of 1 lemon

160ml (2/3c) chopped pecan nuts
Handful of chopped coriander or parsley

80g mixed salad leaves or spinach leaves
1 small red onion or 1 brown onion, sliced
Caramelized pumpkin seeds (see hint)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Spray a large baking sheet, on which the fish will fit, with cooking spray. Do one for the sweet potatoes as well.

Mix all the ingredients and keep aside.

Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic. Bake for about 30 minutes or until soft. Drizzle some salad dressing over the sweet potatoes as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let cool.

Arrange the fish, skin side facing down, on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and spices, if used.
Mix together the olive oil, garlic, orange and lemon juice and peel. Brush the fish with half of the mixture. Oven-roast for 15 minutes. Brush with the rest of the mixture and oven-roast for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle half of the nuts over the fish, turn on the oven grill and grill for 5 minutes till the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Arrange the fish on a serving platter, sprinkle with the rest of the nuts as well as coriander leaves.

Place the salad leaves in a serving dish. Arrange the sweet potato slices and onion rings on top. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top. Pour over the salad dressing and serve with the fish.
Hint: Roast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan over high heat till it starts popping. Sprinkle with about 30ml (2T) brown sugar and stir vigorously. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar and mix.
Pour olive oil, preferably with a lime flavour, in a flat dish. Evenly sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top of the olive oil and allow to cool. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Ideal for a picnic and enjoyed with a Piekenierskloof Chenin blanc.
Flake any left-over fish and mix with some olive oil or plain yoghurt. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in some chopped onion or chives and parsley.
Serve on a roosterkoek.