Asian-Style Noodles Infused with Stout and Witbier

Cuisine à la Bière by | Jun 2016 | Issue #113
Photos by Sean Z. Paxton

When a noodle is one of the main components of a recipe, the type and style of noodle will add its character and charm to the finished dish. Using both rice and wheat flour Asian-style noodles as a foundation, these recipes explore two sauce options for these ribbons of goodness. Each one goes in a different direction, accentuating the noodle’s flavor and texture, while incorporating a beer style into Asian cuisine. Rice noodles combine with delicate seafood flavors and a Witbier’s kiss of orange and coriander, while dried wheat noodles are cooked in a rich, roasty mushroom Stout sauce.

Rice Noodles with XO Wit Sauce and Shrimp
I recently had dim sum at a restaurant that creates many original dishes. One in particular left an impression and has planted a craving in me ever since I first tasted it. The key ingredient was a sauce called XO, which originates from Hong Kong and is found in many different Cantonese style dishes. It’s made with dried scallops (sometimes dried shrimp or fish), Jinhua ham (Chinese style ham), dried red chilies, fried garlic—and sometimes onions—in oil. The intense flavors of these ingredients infuse together, laying down foundational seafood richness with a mild heat and a good dose of umami.

In this recipe, I use rice noodles with a wider cut, traditionally found in a dish called chow fun. Build a sauce with leeks, shallots, garlic and ginger, then white miso, XO and Witbier, which adds a lovely element of orange and coriander along with its Belgian yeast essence. This sauce becomes a vehicle to boost the mild flavor of bay shrimp, while coating the chewy rice noodles with just enough heat.

Serves: 6 guests

Ingredients
14 oz rice noodles or rice sticks (Bánh Phở Viêt Mien Lào), large or XL size*
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large leek, white and light green part, washed and sliced
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp roasted garlic, peeled and mashed
1 tbsp ginger, peeled and grated fine
2 tbsp white miso
12 oz Witbier, such as Allagash White
2 – 3 tbsp XO sauce*
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (optional)
1 lb bay shrimp (or larger prawns)
red micro shiso (optional garnish)
micro cilantro (optional garnish)
white pepper, ground
* Available at most Asian markets or large grocery stores with an aisle for ethnic food.

Directions
Begin by reading the rice noodle package. Most rice noodles need to be hydrated first, which requires a 60-minute soak in warm water, followed by a fast, 3-minute cook time. Fill a bowl or large pot with warm water and follow the directions on the package.

After 30 minutes of soaking, place a large pot filled with water onto a burner and bring to a boil. In a large skillet or wok, over medium-high heat, add the oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the leeks and shallots, tossing in the pan until they are slightly wilted, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and white miso, stirring well to combine the ingredients, dissolving the miso into the vegetables, about 2 more minutes. Next, add the Witbier and XO sauce to the pan. With the XO, start with 1 tablespoon, then adjust the flavoring until you find balance between heat from the chili in the XO, the flavors of ginger and garlic and a delicate touch of Belgian yeast with orange in the finish. If more heat is needed, add Sriracha. If more of the seafood umami flavor is needed, add another tablespoon of XO.

Once three-quarters of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce has reduced, coating the vegetables, add the drainedrice noodles to the pot of boiling water. Cook them for 3 minutes (or what the directions suggest) and drain. Add the cooked rice noodles to the XO Wit sauce and then add the bay shrimp (rinsed under cold water first). Using tongs, toss the noodles in the sauce, coating them evenly in the red-hued liquid. Arrange the noodles onto a large platter or serve in individual bowls, making sure to top with the shrimp and leeks. Garnish with red micro shiso (a plant in the basil family used to make pickled ginger pink), cilantro and a light dusting of ground white pepper. Serve with chopsticks and a bottle of Sriracha hot sauce so your guests can add more heat if they desire.

Beer Pairing
With the dried scallops and bay shrimp, try a Belgian Blonde or a Saison. A Belgian Strong Pale Ale or a Tripel will enhance the umami funk going on in the dish. Alternately, an American Sour, blonde in color with a healthy Brett dose, will also complement the umami funk.

Variations
If bay shrimp aren’t your thing, larger prawns can be used instead. Crab meat or scallops also work in this dish, with the shrimp or as a replacement for them.

113Cuisine2

Pancit Canton Noodles with Fermented Black Bean Stout Mushroom Sauce
This recipe uses a Filipino-style noodle that is adapted from Chinese cuisine. It is essentially a lo mein- or chow mein-style noodle, made with wheat flour and coconut oil and then dried. Extra-long, these noodles are traditionally served at birthday parties to celebrate longevity and good health.

As these noodles are dried, they are not cooked in boiling water like most Italian pasta, but in a boiling sauce instead. This recipe combines mushrooms, onions, carrots and pea shoots with an umami-rich sauce of fermented black beans, hosin sauce, miso and soy sauce. These Asian flavors meld beautifully with a Stout’s rich, roasty undertones. The finished dish will be layered with earthiness from the mushrooms, while the umami will accentuate the hints of chocolate malt, coffee, espresso or oat silkiness, depending on the style of Stout. The intensity of an Imperial Stout will also change the base flavors of the dish, enhancing the beer style’s roast characteristics.

Serves: 6 guests

Ingredients
1/2 cup water, boiling
1/4 cup fermented black beans*
1/4 cup hoisin sauce*
2 tbsp miso, red or white
2 tbsp soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
2 tbsp garlic, peeled and minced fine
2 tbsp ginger, peeled and grated fine
1/2 lb mushrooms, brown beech, crimini (sliced) or enoki
1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, fresh, stems removed and sliced
12 oz Stout, such as Oatmeal Stout, Spiced Stout, or Imperial Stout
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
16 oz flour stick noodles, also called Pancit Canton
1/4 – 1/2 cup hot water (if needed)
1/2 lb pea shoots or tendrils
1/2 tsp white pepper, ground
1 green onion or scallion, sliced thin, green and white part
Sriracha hot sauce or favorite Asian-style condiment
* Available at most Asian markets or large grocery stores with an aisle for ethnic food.

Directions
In a liquid measuring cup, soak the fermented black beans in the boiling water as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Having everything ready in advance is key to this recipe. After 20 minutes, add the hoisin sauce (or oyster sauce for a non-vegan version), red miso and soy sauce. Mix to combine all the ingredients and set aside.

In a wok over high heat, add the oil and onions. Stir-fry for about 4 minutes, until the onions are just starting to brown on the edges. Add the garlic and ginger, mixing in and cooking for another minute. Add both types of mushrooms and mix well with the onions. Let the mushrooms cook for 5 minutes, until they release their stored moisture and start to brown. This will increase their earthy flavor. Add the reserved sauce to the wok and stir well, glazing the mushrooms and cooking for 2–3 minutes. Next, add the Stout and bring to a boil. Add the carrots and the dried noodles. Stir to coat the noodles in the very thin sauce. Watch the clock, as the noodles need about 6 minutes to cook. More time than this and the results will be mushy and gummy. Keep tossing the sauce over the noodles to allow them to soften and soak it up. Add the pea shoots and season with white pepper. The noodles should be soft, yet tender, coated in a thick sauce. If the wok seems dry, add a touch more water.

Transfer the noodles to a large serving platter or serve on individual dishes. Garnish with green onions and serve with your favorite hot sauce.

Beer Pairings
An American Brown Ale will enhance the melanoidin malt flavors from the Stout in the umami-rich sauce. The milder roast elements of an English Porter would also pair nicely with this dish.

Variations
This recipe is designed to be vegan. For a meaty version, try thinly sliced beef from a flat iron or hanger steak cut, stir-fried quickly, removed from the wok and added back to the dish at the end. Or, Chinese style sausages can be cut up and added to the onions. 

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