The Beer Lover’s Table: Strawberry, Tomato and Mojama Salad with Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier

For all the pleasure of discovering new breweries, the thrill of the can release, there’s an abiding satisfaction in returning to the classics.

Not long ago, I realised it had been years since I’d enjoyed a bottle of Weihenstephan’s flawless Hefe Weissbier. Among the finest examples of the style around, heady with clove and banana, it’s far from trendy - novelty isn’t a virtue most associated with a brewery that traces its origins to 725 - but it’s gorgeous, ever-satisfying, and worth making a part of your regular rotation.

That it’s additionally food-friendly is one more advantage. You’ll often find it paired with curries and barbecue fare, though it also works beautifully with more delicate flavours. Like this exquisitely simple summer salad.

This recipe is my take on a dish I recently encountered at Trangallán, a Spanish restaurant in Newington Green that may be one of London’s loveliest tables. I ordered it once and then had to return the following week to have it again. It’s rare to find a dish that, with so few ingredients, still totally beguiles.

For the recipe to work, it is of the utmost importance that you use the very best summer tomatoes you can find, sun-fattened and heavy with juice. Add thin wedges of strawberries (which really do pair well with tomatoes), translucent panes of mojama (cured tuna that adds a balancing element of umami), toasted Marcona almonds and two varieties of basil. Make the simplest of vinaigrettes, with fresh lemon juice, rice vinegar, and the very best olive oil you have in your cupboard, and you’ve done it. Caprese aside, it’s hard to think of a better recipe for the dog days.

Strawberry, Tomato, and Mojama Salad
Serves 4

For the dressing:
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbs rice vinegar
120ml high-quality extra virgin olive oil
Large pinch Maldon sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
100g Marcona almonds
5-6 large heirloom tomatoes
200g strawberries, hulled
1 large bunch purple basil
12 slices mojama
10g basil micro-greens
Maldon sea salt, to taste

First, make the dressing. Add all ingredients to a bowl or jar with a lid, and whisk/shake to emulsify. Set aside.

To make your salad, first toast the Marcona almonds. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add the almonds and toss frequently for 5-6 minutes, or until fragrant and golden-brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Slice your heirloom tomatoes finely. Cut the strawberries into thin wedges.

To construct your salad, scatter the purple basil leaves across four plates. Divide the heirloom tomato slices and strawberries between the plates; top each plate with three slices of mojama. Garnish with the almonds and basil-greens. Drizzle the dressing generously over each; crown with a final sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up a bottle of Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier in store or at our online shop

The Beer Lover’s Table: Thai Prawns and Pressure Drop’s Wu Gang Chops the Tree

Pairing food with beer is one thing. But cooking with it is something else entirely.

At risk of sounding close-minded, I find that the addition of beer rarely elevates a dish. Apart from a few classics - your Belgian carbonnade, your beef and Guinness stew - beer can be a tough ingredient to wrangle. In most cases, if you want to avoid unpalatable bitterness or peculiar off-flavours, it’s safest to leave it in the glass.

But this Thai prawn dish is an exception - particularly when it’s made with Pressure Drop’s Wu Gang Chops the Tree.

A hefeweisse made with foraged herbs, Wu Gang is a uniquely agreeable brew that Pressure Drop describes as "our most versatile food pairing beer." On the one hand, it’s effervescent, light of body, and low in bitterness, making it perfectly quenching. On the other, its heady aroma combines the banana and clove esters you’d expect from a German-style wheat beer with a compelling herbaceousness that’s all its own. It’s friendly, versatile, as adept at pairing with lamb chops and roast chicken as it is a piquant curry. Me, I especially like it in this Thai-inspired prawn dish.

Simple, refreshing and done in 20 minutes, this is the kind of food to serve in high summer. It nails that classic Thai combo of heat, sweetness, acidity, and salt; serve atop steamed rice to bulk it out, and throw a few slices of avocado on the side to add a bit of richness (this beer tempers fat beautifully). Whatever you do, be sure to keep a few extra bottles of Wu Gang to one side - at just 3.8% percent, it’s as sessionable as they come.

Thai Prawns with Coriander, Lime, and Beer
Serves 2

3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
1 tbs palm sugar
1 1/2 tbs fish sauce
Stems from a 30g bunch of coriander
Zest and juice of 2 limes
3/4 tsp flaky sea salt, like Maldon
2 tbs olive oil, divided
2 echalion shallots, thinly sliced
150ml Pressure Drop Wu Gang Chops the Tree
250g deveined, shell-on king prawns

To serve:
½ avocado, thinly sliced
Steamed white rice 1 lime, cut into wedges
Coriander leaves

In the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, chillies, palm sugar, fish sauce, the stems from your bunch of coriander, the zest and juice of 2 limes, and the sea salt. Blitz for roughly one minute, or until the paste is well combined (note: it will have a relatively thin consistency).

Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Spoon shallots into a bowl and set aside.

Add 1 tbs of olive oil to the frying pan and heat on high heat. Add the prawns and sear on one side for 45 seconds before removing from the heat and adding to another waiting bowl. Prawns are very susceptible to overcooking, so don’t be tempted to cook longer or sear on both sides; instead, they will finish cooking at the very end.

Add your shallots back to the frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Pour in the Wu Gang. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until the beer has begun to reduce. Add the prepared paste into the beer and mix, cooking for an additional 1-2 minutes, until additionally reduced.

Remove the frying pan from the heat and add the shrimp, tossing lightly until just cooked through. Season to taste with an extra sprinkling of sea salt.

Serve with steamed rice and a few slices of avocado. Slice the third lime into wedges and squeeze a bit more juice over each serving. Top with the coriander leaves.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up a bottle or three of Pressure Drop's Wu Gang Chops The Tree in store or at our online shop