Hopefully you got your fill of our subject matter last week, while you were pretending to be Irish. And hopefully not all of you stuck to the Guinness and maybe gave some more local brews a try.
In any case, with my vegan experiment over, I wanted to cook a celebratory seasonal meat, poultry or seafood dish and pair it with a celebratory brew. It’s true–I still actually have not had meat for a month and a half. (With the exception of an entire bag of beef jerky in one sitting the day the project ended.) I wanted to do this right. But what to cook? And what to drink?
So, I consulted the experts: my “Simply Organic” cookbook and my brew-master buddy Brent Fedor, who brews his own beer in his kitchen and writes about all things hops related on his blog, Brewty and the Yeast (get it?). In his own words, he’s about two steps away from carrying photos of his beers in his wallet. He also cooks like a champ. So, in short, he knows his stuff.
“Simply Organic” by Jesse Ziff Cool is a cookbook I love because it has great recipes that are broken up into seasons. But I can’t take credit for finding it, it was Brent’s recommendation. After perusing the Spring section I decided on the asparagus and scallops. I know, I know, not exactly the hunk of juicy beef I was envisioning either but it looked just delish and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had scallops. Sea scallop populations are not over-fished and are from the U.S. Atlantic. However, I will mention that they aren’t an absolutely environmentally savvy choice due to the fact that scallop boats often use dredges and dredges can cause damage to the sea floor. For more information than you ever wanted to know about eating scallops, and that act’s environmental impact, visit Seafood Watch. (On a side note, bay scallops are farmed, making them a more eco-friendly choice, but hold the phone, most come from China and Japan. I never said this would be easy…)
To go with my asparagus and scallops, Brent counseled as follows:
“Think of how powerful a good scallop is: sweet and unmistakable flavor and very different from a flaky white fish. Try a full-bodied european pilsener-style beer like Pilsener Urquell, Stella or Beck’s (also very easy to find at the market these days). American versions of this style of beer may not hold up very well due to their more watery mouthfeel and weaker flavor. So much work went into taking the scallop out of the water; don’t try to drown it again. American IPA’s could also fit the bill, but look for one that is well-balanced rather than a hop explosion. Dogfish Head’s Squall is a new favorite of mine. The adventurous may even dance with the devil by pairing Victory Brewing Co.’s Wild Devil Belgian-Style IPA. It’s got a breath of sawdust and sour cidery notes across the familiar bitter hop bite and sweet amber malt. The complexities of a California Common (Anchor Steam, baby) will also fit in well and may be more palatable to timid taste buds. Flying Dog has an Old Scratch Amber Lager, like all the California Commons have complexities developed from their brewing style, coaxing ale AND lager flavors from the same batch.”
Um, yea, like I said, the man knows his stuff.
If you’re a beer guy or gal, head beyond The Library and Father’s Office (though I love them both) and check out Eagle Rock Brewery. There are a lot of great California breweries: North Coast Brewing, Stone Brewing and Sierra Nevada. If you follow The Library on Facebook (yes, I do), then you know they are big fans of the Sierra Nevada Brewery, which gets most of its electrical energy needs from its own solar panels.
And by the way, I know the red plastic Dixie cups bring back fond memories of bygone Beer Pong tourneys, but be a grown up and get yourself a frosty (and reusable) mug. Asparagus and scallops below (four servings):
Asparagus and Scallops-Jesse Ziff Cool
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole canned chipotle pepper, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 pound sea scallops (try to find labeled chemical-free, day-boat, diver or dry pack)
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
In small bowl, combine oil, lime juice, sugar, garlic, chipotle pepper and cilantro. Let sit at least 30 minutes.
Remove and discard tough muscle from scallops.
In small bowl, combine cornmeal, coriander, salt and black pepper. Toss scallops in cornmeal mixture and set aside.
Pour 1/2 cup water into a heavy skillet. Bring to boil over high heat. Add asparagus. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for four minutes or until tender crisp. Remove to a platter and keep warm.
Wipe the skillet and add the butter. Place over medium heat. Add scallops and cook for two to four minutes, turning once, until lightly browned and opaque.
Divide asparagus and top with scallops. Drizzle with chipotle dressing.