Now’s the time to stick close to home and take advantage of our gorgeous province (and all the wonderful beer it holds). There’s a ton to explore without crossing any borders, but there’s no denying many of us are yearning for the day we’re able to travel internationally again.
Perhaps, like me, you occasionally find yourself swiping through travel photos, basking in nostalgia and plotting where you’ll go next… The pandemic has put a damper on travel plans for the moment, but in the meantime, we can use food as a vessel to transport us to other lands!
To get the best of both worlds, I’ve been exploring some travel-inspired recipes and adding a local twist by incorporating BC craft beer. This is the perfect excuse to stop at your local brewery, swap travel stories, and grab a couple of extra cans to enjoy at home. While you’re there, why not sit back, relax, and enjoy a “flight” too?
Once you’re home, stow your luggage, and fire up the stove! It’s time to get cookin’.
Three international recipes using BC craft beer
Vietnam: Bo Kho – Beer-braised beef stew
From the dirt cheap bia hơi of Hanoi, to the trendy craft beer scene of Saigon, beer culture is alive and well in Vietnam. The only thing that can improve the experience is good company and amazing food, which is never hard to find (in Vietnam or BC).
Bo Kho is a braised beef stew that radiates with the quintessential scents of Vietnamese cuisine: Chinese five-spice, fish sauce, ginger, lemongrass, and chillies. The addition of dark beer adds even more depth of flavour—the perfect reason to pair it with one of your favourite BC brews, like Dark Matter from Victoria’s Hoyne Brewing.
There are countless ways to customize the dish by using more or less meat, adding different vegetables and experimenting with the spices. Channel the flavours that take you back to the bustling streets and sweeping limestone mountains of Southeast Asia while adding a delicious BC touch.
Ingredients – about 6 servings
FOR THE MARINADE:
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
FOR THE BRAISE:
- 2-3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1-1.5 cups dark beer like Hoyne Dark Matter
- 3 cups beef stock (or water)
- 1 ½ pounds carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 cups chopped bok choy
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 6 shallots or 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons salt (plus more to taste)
- 4 star anise pods
- 1 cinnamon stick (about 2 inches)
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass, tender centre only (pound the stalk with the back end of your knife and peel away the tough outer layer)
- 1 or 2 Serrano or Thai chillies, stem on, split lengthwise
- ½ cup thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
- 1 cup cilantro sprigs, for garnish
- ½ cup mint leaves, for garnish
- ½ cup small basil leaves, for garnish
- Make the marinade: Stir together fish sauce, sugar, ginger, 5-spice powder and pepper.
- Put the beef in a large bowl, add marinade and mix. Let the beef marinate for a couple of hours if possible (you can also wrap and refrigerate it overnight if you’d like).
- Put oil in a Dutch oven or similar pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, fry beef cubes in small batches until browned. Make sure you don’t crowd them.
- Remove the beef from the pot and set aside.
- Add shallots, stir to combine and continue cooking until they’re softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add beef back into the pot.
- Add tomato, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and salt. Stir to coat, then add star anise, cinnamon and chili pepper(s).
- Cover with beer and broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with the lid ajar and cook for about an hour. Then add carrots to the pot.
- Cook for about another hour or until the beef is fork-tender. Skim the fat from the surface of the broth as necessary.
- Add the bok choy and let cook for a few minutes, until tender.
Spoon it into bowls and serve with cooked rice noodles, rice, or a Bahn mi style baguette to soak up all the delicious broth. Garnish with green onions, cilantro, mint, and basil.
Một hai ba dzô!
Germany: Beer-battered schnitzel
There’s nothing more satisfying after an evening of drinking beer in Germany than a giant schnitzel nestled on a bed of fries. Pounded meat that’s breaded, fried, and served with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of parsley… It’s hard to think of a food that pairs better with a crisp, frothy brew among friends.
Luckily, it’s super easy to make schnitzel here at home and many of BC’s craft breweries offer delicious German-style beers, like Lighthouse’s Cloudburst Hefeweizen. By adding some of that beer into the schnitzel batter, you get extra light crispiness from the bubbles and tasty flavour from the acidity.
Bonus: Since the recipe only calls for a small amount of beer, you get to sip the rest while you cook. The Germans would approve!
Ingredients – 2-4 servings
- 4 pork chops
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup German-style beer like Lighthouse’s Hefeweizen
- 2 cup breadcrumbs
- Canola oil for frying
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley leaves minced, for garnish
- lemon wedges to finish
- Pound the pork with a meat tenderizer or other object (I use a rolling pin) until they are about 1/4 inch thick
- Drizzle the pork with fresh lemon juice and let stand for about 30 minutes.
- Shake flour into a large shallow dish. Beat eggs and beer in a shallow bowl. Spread breadcrumbs into another dish.
- Dip the cutlets in the flour to lightly coat, then dip into the egg-beer batter. Allow the excess egg to run off before completely coating each cutlet with breadcrumbs.
- In a large skillet, heat enough oil for the meat to float in over medium-high heat until it reaches 325 to 350°F.
- Carefully place the breaded cutlets into hot oil without crowding them. Cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
- Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the schnitzel with parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy alongside dishes like spätzle, potatoes, gravy, braised cabbage, sauerkraut, beets, or asparagus.
Mexico: Beer-braised pork tacos
Few things bring me more happiness than the combination of beer and tacos. Mexico City was the last international trip I took before the pandemic hit and I’m so grateful I had the chance to experience the city’s incredible food and drink scene.
Whether you’re missing the tropical beaches or vibrant cities of Mexico, an authentic beer and taco night might be just what the doctor ordered.
Use a Mexican-style lager like Twa Dogs’ Dos Perros Lager to add a little extra kick of nostalgia. Patience is key in this recipe, but it is so, so worth it. When your stomach starts to grumble near the end, kick back, turn on the Spanish music and enjoy una cerveza while your pork reaches ultimate tastiness.
Ingredients – 6-8 servings
- 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder
- 1 garlic head
- neutral oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes in their juice
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds (or 1 tablespoon ground cumin)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon of chilli powder
- 1-2 jalapenos, stem on and sliced length-wise
- 2 to 3 cups lighter beer like Twa Dogs Dos Perros Mexican lager
- corn tortillas
- lime, cilantro and salsa of choice to finish
- The day before cooking (or at least several hours ahead of time), season pork generously with salt and refrigerate.
- When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 325 F. Remove roots from garlic and slice them in half (you can leave the skins on).
- Set a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. When warm, add 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot, place pork in the pot. Brown evenly on all sides, about 3-4 minutes each. When browned, remove and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, cumin, bay leaves, chilli powder and jalapenos. Nestle pork in the base and add enough beer to come about 1.5 inches up the sides of the meat. Make sure the peppers and bay leaves are mostly immersed so they don’t burn.
- Bring to a boil then slip the pot, uncovered, into the oven. After 30 minutes, check to make sure liquid is barely simmering. About every 30 minutes, turn pork and check level of the liquid. Add more beer as needed. Cook until fork-tender, about 3.5-4 hours.
- Take pot out of the oven and remove pork. Set aside.
- Blend all the aromatics in a processor and strain through a sieve. Discard the solids. Skim the fat and adjust salt if needed.
- Shred the meat and combine with sauce.
Serve the pork on corn tortillas, topped with chopped onion, cilantro, lime, and your choice of salsa, beans, or other veggie toppings.