Have you enjoyed an icy cold Estrella Damm this summer? If so, you're up with the play because the beer of Barcelona has only just become readily available here in New Zealand. To celebrate Bite ran a tapas competition and asked the bars and restaurants who serve it to share with us their favourite Estrella tapa match. We narrowed down a very fine field to 12 finalists, which we tested and tasted. You will find the recipes from all 12 finalists on foodhub.co.nz; the top five, we present to you here. The recipes have all been judged and adapted by the Bite team to suit the home cook so go on, get the Estrella in (it's available at all liquor retailers) and get set to impress.
These batter-coated mussels on tarator sauce are a favourite with Ali Arsan, one of the owners of the two Tasca cafés in Auckland - in Newmarket and Dominion Road. Although the recipe here serves four, Ali confesses he could eat the lot himself! Chef Zeki Kizilata makes the dish which is offered as a special from time to time.
Ali says the Tasca eateries were inspired by the back-street cafes of Spain and are big on ambience and tasty food but small on formality.
Pan fried mussels - midye tava - with tarator sauce
• Tarator sauce (makes 1½ cups)
• 30g slice white bread, crusts removed
• ½ cup walnuts
• 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2 Tbsp lemon juice
• 1 Tbsp tahini
• ½ cup Greek-style yoghurt
• ¼ cup finely chopped dill, plus extra to serve
• 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1kg mussels, scrubbed, bearded
• 330ml bottle cold Estrella Damm
• Vegetable or rice bran oil, to deep fry
• 2 egg whites
• 100g (⅓ cup) self-raising flour
• Plain flour, to dust
1. To make the tarator sauce, soak bread in water for 5 minutes, then squeeze to drain. Pulse walnuts in a food processor to fine crumbs. Add bread, garlic, lemon juice and tahini. Season with salt and process until combined. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in yoghurt, dill and oil and adjust seasoning. Add water for a thinner consistency, if desired. Refrigerate until needed.
2. Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Add mussels and 60ml (¼ cup) of the beer and cover. Cook, shaking pan, for 1 minute or until shells have slightly opened. Drain, remove mussels from shells, then drain on paper towel.
3. Fill a deep-fryer one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds).
4. Meanwhile, make batter. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Place self-raising flour in a large bowl, then gradually whisk in remaining 270ml beer, then fold in egg whites.
5. Place plain flour in a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper. Working in 3 batches, dust mussels in seasoned flour, shake off excess, then coat in batter. Fry for 2 minutes or until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Whisk batter between each batch to aerate.
6. Season mussels and serve with tarator sauce, scattered with extra dill.
The judges say: a beer-battered anything goes down well with a cold Estrella Damm. Mussels are particularly kind on the budget and so is the tarator sauce. It's a great recipe to have on hand. We also gave the mussels a good squeeze of lemon just before eating.
Check out some of the other Estrella Damm tapas competion competitors
Note: Part of the judging process was to choose recipes that were suitable to the home cook. The recipes from our 12 semi-finalists have all been tested and some slightly adapted to suit. See all 12 recipes on foodhub.co.nz
For more about Estrella Damm and tapas visit their website here.