Pair Ahi Tuna Salad with Japanese Lager

Ahi Tuna Paired with Japanese Lager

Oh my goodness, what a week. First, I apologize I haven’t posted in 3 weeks. Second, I’m engaged! Yay! I don’t intend to make this blog too personal…but I just have to share a picture!

I don't think the picture does the ring's shininess justice

I don’t think the picture does the ring’s shininess justice

Andrew proposed on the top of mount charleston during the sunset. The view was absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think he could have done any better…

charleston sunset

Anyway, a lot has happened in the last 3 weeks that has interfered with this blog. However, some of the experiences will lead to some GREAT future blog posts. But for now, here’s a great recipe Andrew, my new fiancé, and I made that was simple, healthy, and made for a really good Sunday evening dinner on a hot night:

Ahi Tuna Salad and Sapporo

The Pairing

Pairings do not have to be complicated. This pairing that I’ve chosen for the Tuna Salad is the simplest I’ve chosen for the blog so far. But I did it on purpose; to show that you don’t need to make things complicated if you don’t want to!

There are three Japanese lagers that are readily available to us Americans—Sapporo, Kirin, and Asahi. What is the distinction between the three? Not much…the difference is very subtle. BUT the thing these three have in common, which is the most important to this pairing, is that they are very dry. What in the world does that mean? Think about taking a sip of beer. The beer can be refreshing—it is high in carbonation and doesn’t really leave any lingering taste in the back of your mouth after you finish that sip. That defines a dry beer—one that is refreshing and finishes clean. Actual flavor is low which makes for a great pairing with light dishes. Japanese beers are notoriously “dry” because there is a high amount of rice used to make them. It also makes them great with spicy foods and sushi.

Ahi Tuna Salad and Beer

I chose these Japanese beers with this salad because, although the dish wasn’t crazy spicy, it fit the theme. This salad is light, healthy, and in a way, refreshing. Drinking a Japanese lager with that enhances the whole experience!

The Recipe

Andrew and I decided to try this Ahi Tuna Salad recipe on a whim; as I mentioned earlier, it was a 100 degree day and all we wanted was something easy to make and fresh. I found it over on The Enchanted Cook’s blog. This recipe was pretty easy, you just need to make a trip to the store for those ahi steaks and a few oddball ingredients that we didn’t have. The whole meal took less than 30 minutes though! Enjoy this with any of the Japanese Beers I suggested or any other light lager that is rice-based and not too hoppy.

Ahi Tuna Salad CaretoPair.com

Other Pairing Suggestions

  • Kirin Extra Dry, Saporro, Orion, or Asahi Japanese Lagers
  • Rogue Brewery’s Morimoto Soba Ale
  • Champagne (Brut)
  • New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Seared Ahi Tuna Salad with Sesame Dressing
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Ahi Tuna Steaks (I had to use frozen since I live in the desert, but try to get fresh ones)
  • 4 Cups mixed salad greens
  • 2-3 Tbsp shelled edamame seeds (optional but definitely worth it)
  • ½ diced red bell pepper
  • fresh lime (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • kosher salt
  • ¼ Cup plus 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • ¼ toasted sesame oil
  • 1½ Tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp finely minced fresh ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. First make the dressing. Whisk together rice vinegar, sesame oil, tahini paste, honey, garlic, ginger and ½ tsp salt until well combined. Proportions make about ½ Cup sauce total, make more if you want to really drench your tuna steaks in them.
  2. Assemble the salad: Place salad greens, red bell pepper, and edamame in a bowl along with a little of the dressing. Mix them all together to coat with the dressing. Place mixture on two plates.
  3. MIx together the sesame seeds and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Sprinkle the Tuna Steaks with Kosher salt, then dredge them in the sesame mixture, covering both sides. Pat the sides of the tuna with your hands to make sure the seeds stick to it.
  4. Heat the canola oil in a pan until it becomes very hot! Sear the steaks on each side for approximately 45 seconds. Remove from the pan, slice, and place on top of the salad. Squeeze lime over steaks right before eating. Use the remaining dressing as a dipping sauce or drizzle more over the salad.

 

White Chocolate Cheesecake Paired with Framboise

 

White Chocolate Cheesecake and Framboise

Once upon a time a girl who didn’t really like to make desserts made an incredible dessert. And everyone lived happily ever after. That’s how I feel about this beautiful dish I made.

I really don’t like making desserts. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good dessert now and then, but I just don’t really crave them on a daily basis. I think it is because all of the beer and wine I drink that doesn’t go with dessert…hehe

But trust me, this dessert is 10 times more delicious than it looks…and I think I did pretty dang good with the pictures! If you are like me and don’t usually make beautiful-looking desserts, this is the recipe for you to try. It was fairly easy, and sticking all those raspberries on top was a piece of [cheese]cake.

Raspberry White chocolate Cheesecake

The Pairing

Ahhhh….Framboise and White Chocolate Cheesecake. What a match made in heaven. I think I’ve been saying that about a lot of my pairings, but its the way I feel about them all! Framboise is French for “raspberry”, but this is a Belgian beer. Framboise is a type of fruit lambic, and if you think this is a relatively new invention, think again–lambic is the oldest beer style in the world that is still in production today.

Lambics are funky–unlike other beers, wild yeast and a whole lot of bacteria are invited into the beer. Its not harmful, but it sure does create a completely different flavor profile compared to what you’re used to. Expect a lot of acidity and slight “sourness” when you try a lambic for the first time. Dare I say these beers have more in common with wine than with beer? Yes, especially when you add fruit to them.

Cheesecake and Framboise Pairing

Lindeman’s Framboise, the most widely available fruit lambic in our wonderful country, was a great accompaniment to this cheesecake. Even though there are beautiful raspberries on top of this dessert, it is in no way a “raspberry” dessert. If it was, I wouldn’t be suggesting the Framboise with it, it would be too much raspberry and the flavors would cancel each other out. So don’t go pairing this beer with your next raspberry pie or something (is that a thing?).

The truth of this dessert is that its very mild. The white chocolate is very subtle and absolutely perfect. The Framboise adds a sweet fruity touch to the entire meal–a paring I would call PERFECT! And my friends who don’t really like beer OR cheesecake loved it too. This is definitely a crowd pleaser!

White Chocolate Cheesecake and Framboise

The Recipe

I loved this cheesecake. Its definitely in my “keepers” section of my recipes as it is simple to make and simple to decorate. In fact, the cheesecake in the photos even collapsed in the middle…something you don’t want your cheesecake to do…but was easily covered up with the raspberries! If you’re new to the cheesecake-baking-business, this is a great recipe to start out with!

White Chocolate Cheesecake Paired with Framboise
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ Cup and ½ Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup Butter, softened
  • ½ tsp and 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 4 pkg (8 oz each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 16 oz White Baking Chocolate, melted and slightly cooled (I used Girardelli's)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 pint Raspberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F
  2. Beat ½ C sugar, ½ tsp of vanilla, and butter in a small bowl with an electric mixer. Add flour little by little, mixing on low speed until well blended.
  3. Press mixture firmly onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and prick with fork
  4. Bake for 25 minutes until the edge is lightly browned
  5. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, ½ Cup sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla in a large bowl until well blended.
  6. Add the melted chocolate and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on low speed after each addition. Be careful not to overblend as this will cause air pockets in the batter.
  7. When the crust is done cooking in the oven, pour the cream cheese mixture over it.
  8. Bake for about 1 hour or until center is almost set. When finished, run a knife along the rim to loosen the cake. Let the cake cool before removing the rim of the pan.
  9. Top with raspberries and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Hawaiian Mac Salad and Mana Wheat Ale

I told my friend from Illinois I was going to do a post on my blog about Hawaiian Mac Salad. She asked me what that was. WHAAA?!?!! Then I realized—oh, I didn’t know what Hawaiian Mac Salad was before I moved out here either. I guess Hawaiian Mac Salad is kind of exclusive to Hawaii, and uh, Las Vegas. That and ABC stores. Thank you Hawaiian population :) We are so lucky to have both of these things out here.

Hawaiian Mac Salad Pairing

There is only one thing you need to know about Hawaiian Mac Salad: MAYONNAISE. Seriously. That is what makes the Mac Salad Hawaiian. And it will always be a little sweet. I went to a party last weekend for my Hawaiian friend (it was so legit, they had an entire pit-roasted pig sitting on the counter) and had some of their mac salad—sweet mayo-y heaven. And luckily, it was very close to the recipe I’ve made below. Mmmm. I may have gotten 2nds…or 3rds….of it.

Hawaiian Mac Salad CaretoPair Blog

The Pairing

I went on a limb for this one, trying to find a good beer to accompany the sweetness of the salad. As I was browsing the enormous beer selection at the store, I couldn’t really find anything I liked, so I grabbed a Maui Brewing Company Mana wheat ale to go with the whole Hawaiian theme. It wasn’t until I got home and popped a top that I realized it had Pineapple juice brewed right in with it…ohhhhh man, what a pairing!

Mana Wheat with Mac Salad

This beer goes with the salad like peanut butter and jelly. The beer is sweet, the salad is sweet. The carbonation of the beer lifts all that delicious mayo fattiness off your tongue. And the chicken recipe I’ve also paired with the salad has pineapple juice right in the marinade. There couldn’t have been a better match. I’m so proud of myself.

The Maui Brewing Company Mana Wheat is a unique beer…as I said, it is sweet, and the pineapple juice in it is very prominent. Look at the picture below…doesn’t it look like a glass of orange juice?! It’s a great beer for a hot day as it is light and spritzy. It almost drinks like a sauvignon blanc (similar tropical fruit notes in it) if you’re a wine fan and want to venture out. Or it’s a great beer to give to your friends that only want a “sweet” beverage. I think this beer is best drank on its own or with other sweet foods. It would also go well with barbecued foods with sweet sauces or even with ice cream, like an Orange-Julius.

Mana Wheat Mac Salad

The Recipe

The recipe I’ve provided was adapted from I Believe I Can Fry—check out her site for a little background on Hawaiian Mac Salad! Her recipe makes a great base and I added some seasonings for some added flavor. You can add whatever you want to this salad to make it your own…tuna and olives seem to be common additions, but not my thing. You can serve this with my Hawaiian Chicken recipe or at your next BBQ, or heck, just to have it on its own! But I’m warning you, you will probably be hooked after your first bite and soon enough will be dreaming about the next time you can have it.

Sweet Mayo Hawaiian Mac Salad
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni noodles
  • ½ Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Cups Hellman's (aka Best Foods) mayonnaise, divided
  • 2 Cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 stalk celery, minced very small
  • 2 green onions, heavily chopped
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Put macaroni in pot and bring back to a boil. Let cook for 12-15 minutes, until VERY soft. Drain and place back in pot.
  2. Immediately pour apple cider vinegar over the macaroni. Stir to combine evenly. Let cool for about 10 minutes
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1½ Cups of the milk and 1 Cup of the mayonnaise. Add brown sugar, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  4. After the pasta has cooled for approx. 10 minutes, combine the mayonnaise mixture with the macaroni. Cover pasta and place in the refrigerator until it has cooled completely.
  5. When completely cooled, add the final 1 Cup of Mayonnaise and ½ Cup of Milk. Stir in the carrots, celery, and onions. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  6. **Salad gets better with time! If you can resist eating it, let the flavors meld overnight before serving!**

 

What I’m Sipping–Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

“If you truly believe in what you’re doing, nothing can stop you” –Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head Brewery, Brewing Up a Business

Ahhh. So here is the first of many “What I’m Sipping” posts. Consider this a beer memoir, not a review. I won’t, after all, put anything on this blog that I don’t believe you should try, nor put anything on here that I don’t like! Of course my first beer memoir must be from one of my favorite breweries in the entire nation–Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA. Do read on if this picture entices you…

Dogfish Treehouse

The Treehouse in front of the Brewery

I was fortunate to enjoy a Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA (India Pale Ale)  a few weeks ago. As I was sipping it, a great idea came to my head…why not share this beer with everyone? This beer is a meal on its own, but that doesn’t mean it should be neglected on my blog! On top of that, I visited the brewery a few months ago, why not share that experience as well?! Brilliant.

I had the pleasure of visiting Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware this past February with my friend Kristi, whose life I’m pretty sure was changed forever after our experience ;) I’ve become a big fan of Dogfish Head after reading Sam Calagione’s book Brewing Up a Business, where he shares his rough beginnings, determination, and ultimate success from building Dogfish Head brewery from the ground up. When I realized the original brewery would be just a short road trip away, we jumped in the car…and went to Delaware! Visiting the brewery after reading the book confirmed how all of his hard work paid off. Check out these two pictures. The first is the original brewing room…the second is just a snippet of their current bottling warehouse.  It is bigger than any facility I’ve ever seen:

Dogfish Head Facilities

Dogfish Head is truly a unique brewery—there’s really no other brewery like it. In his book, Sam talks about how he was always throwing random fruits, herbs, spices, anything into his batches of beer…he could never just stick to the normal recipe! And the brewery reflects this in all their beers…they’ve got an IPA brewed with syrah grapes, a brown ale aged in Paraguayan wood, a pilsner brewed with pear juice…there’s just nothing normal about these beers, which is absolutely fantastic.

Dogfish Head Fermenters

My brewery tour was phenomenal…I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. I was lucky enough to be invited to their employee happy hour after closing for the day—everyone was so nice; it was obvious what an incredible community the company has built with its employees. For that reason alone, it is definitely a brewery I am proud to support.

Dogfish Head Kettles

Okay, now on to our featured beer…Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA. I should note that this beer is brewed only a few times a year (because it is a difficult beer to brew), so it is hard to find. If you come across any, buy a few (I’ve had good luck at Whole Foods). I just saw on their Facebook page that they will be releasing their latest batch in a few weeks…so now is the time to look for it! Drink one whenever you like, but save another to drink in a few years—the beer ages beautifully (flavors mellow out/change into a completely new experience). Andrew and I opened this bottle after about a year of aging. Maybe we should have waited, but sometimes you’ve gotta live a little, right?

Dogfish Head Casks

Kristi and I in the Cask Room

120 Minute IPA is boiled for an entire TWO hours…most IPAs are boiled for 1 hour…and they continually add hops during that entire boil.  On top of that, it is then dry-hopped every day for a month and then aged for another month on whole leaf hops! People say it is the ultimate beer for hop-heads; it comes in at 120 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) after all, which is way more than most IPAs. However, I don’t really put this beer in the IPA category…to me, it drinks more like a barleywine than anything.

Dogfish Head 120 | CaretoPair.com

The aroma immediately enticed me with a beautiful, subtle sweetness of cherry pie and raisins. There may have been some hoppy aromas, but what really drew me in were these dark red fruits that made me feel as if I were smelling an aged tawny port. When I took that first sip, I got all those fruit characteristics and more—it was complex, but somehow subtle, and bitterness was restrained, hidden by the warming alcohol and balanced maltiness. It is a meal on its own, but would go well with an assortment of cheese, charcuterie, and crusty French bread…nothing more. And with its alcohol percentage around 18%…you might want to share a bottle with a friend :)

If you are looking for that “ultimate hophead” beer, look elsewhere—the bitterness is so balanced that, no matter how much you want it to ruin your palette, it won’t.   It really is a beer you have to experience for yourself, because there is nothing like it. If you’re lucky to get your hands on a few, drink one now, and age the rest—each one will probably be a completely different experience than the others.