Recipes from Food + Beer

Food Plus Beer

by Ross Dobson

Great international food to eat with the exciting array of beer style options available today.

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I like mussels cooked with tomatoes, parsley, coriander (cilantro), beer or wine... but not cream. The chip cooking method may seem a bit left field, but it's fuss free and lets you get on with other things, like having a beer. If that's too much for you, just dunk some bread in the sauce. Try La Chouffe, a bottle-fermented Belgian blonde–style beer with this. Clean and crisp, it has a zippy, fruity taste of orange and coriander that complements the mussel broth and washes the palate clean.

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) mussels, scrubbed, hairy beards removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 spring onions (scallions), chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
330 ml (11¼ fl oz) Belgian beer
small handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
mayonnaise, to serve

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) desiree potatoes, cleaned, skin on, cut into chips 2 cm (¾ inch) wide
vegetable oil for frying
sea salt to serve

Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F). To make the fries, put the potato chips in a colander and rinse under cold water to remove some of the starch. Tip onto a clean tea towel (dish towel) and pat completely dry. Place in a heavy-based saucepan, then pour enough vegetable oil over to cover. Heat over high heat. Use tongs to separate the chips and move them around in the pan as they slowly start to cook in the oil. When the oil starts to boil, cook for about 5 minutes, or until the fries are golden and crisp.

Drain in a colander set over a clean, dry saucepan. Spread the fries on a lined baking tray and bake for 15–20 minutes while you cook the mussels.

Discard any broken mussels, or open ones that don’t close when tapped on the bench. Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Stir-fry the spring onion and garlic for just 1 minute, or until softened and aromatic. Add the salt and beer and bring to the boil.

Add the mussels, stir a few times, then quickly cover the pan. Cook until the mussels have opened, which should only take a few minutes. Discard any unopened mussels, stir in the parsley, and serve with the fries and mayonnaise.

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I wondered about the authenticity of this recipe and how tomato sauce fits into the equation, but tomato sauce is indeed used as an alternative to red food colour in many Cantonese cookery books from the 1960s. At a pop-up Sunday yum cha I did, this item was the most popular. At yum cha, dumplings dominate the menu, or rather trollies, but don’t overlook the plates of Chinese meats (duck, pork and chicken). Such delicious foods scream for a palate-cleansing, cold Asian pale or light lager.

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) pork scotch fillet
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon sugar
small coriander (cilantro) sprigs to garnish
steamed rice and Asian greens to serve

Barbecue sauce
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) tomato sauce
60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) plum sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
220 g (8 oz/1 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

Cut the pork lengthways into long, sausage-like fillets about 5 cm (2 inches) thick, then place in a bowl. Stir together all the barbecue sauce ingredients to dissolve the sugar, then pour over the pork. Rub the sauce into the pork, coating the meat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 3-6 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 220˚C (425˚F). Line a baking tray with baking paper. Lay the pork on the baking tray, reserving the barbecue sauce for basting.

Roast the pork for 20 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to char. Turn and cook for another 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 160˚C (315˚F) and roast for a further 2 hours, brushing with the reserved sauce and turning every 20 minutes, until the pork is very tender and deep red. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

Combine the soy sauce, rice wine and sugar in a bowl. Pour in 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) water, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Slice the pork on a serving platter. Drizzle with some of the soy sauce mixture and garnish with coriander. Serve with steamed rice and Asian greens.

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I know die-hard meat-eaters who turn weak at the knees for this. When fried, this soft tofu becomes almost custard like, encased in a golden, crisp and spicy shell. Tofu is such a pure ingredient - don't mess with it too much, and certainly don't make burgers out of it or the meat-eaters will be running away at speed. A golden ale will be a fine friend indeed to this dish.

600 g (1 lb 5 oz) soft tofu
150 g (5½ oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) vegetable oil, for frying
2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1 large red chilli, thinly sliced
lemon wedges, to serve

Chilli salt
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon chilli powder

To make the chilli salt, combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

To prepare the tofu, carefully remove it from its packaging and drain on paper towel. The tofu may already be cut into 3-4 cm (1 inch) cubes. If not, use a sharp knife to cut it into cubes, then pat dry with paper towel.

Put the flour on a plate. Heat the oil in a saucepan or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, it is ready to use.

Working in batches, gently roll the tofu in the flour. Use metal tongs to lower the tofu into the hot oil and cook, turning, for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel.

When you've finished cooking all the tofu, add the spring onion and chilli to the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp. Scatter over the tofu. Serve sprinkled with the chilli salt, with lemon wedges on the side.

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