It’s official, I am a well classy chick – last night I had beer & a kebab.
At least the kebab was home-made and the beer was just one bottle of my Celt Experience collab, Apparition IPA, so just in case you’re worried (and I’m sure you’re not) I’ve not been chugging Stella and grabbing a pitta full of elephant’s foot on the way home…
I got the inspiration for this very Welsh-themed kebab, not due to ‘chip alley’ in Cardiff but because Celt is a Caerphilly-based brewery and the mince I bought was Welsh lamb; so I thought, I know what I’ve got in the cupboard, a tin of laverbread.
Now, before those of you who have been traumatised by this ingredient as a child recoil, you don’t really taste it much, and for those of you who are confused, the lovely website laverbread.com explains:
Laverbread, or bara lawr in Welsh, is a traditional Welsh delicacy, mainly found clinging to exposed rocks and is harvested on the West Coast of the British Isles and Southern Ireland. After being gathered, the seaweed is thoroughly washed and cooked until it becomes soft. It is then minced to convert it into a thick black/green paste like texture…
…or alien snot-like texture as I like to refer to it (brings back memories of this guy!).
Seriously though, it’s an excellently gross product but, as with so many things like this, it is actually delicious when used correctly*.
It adds a wonderful moist, open texture to the kebab as well as a hugely satisfying savoury note, that weaves in an out of the lamb’s sweet meatiness; because seaweed is a known source of glutamate, which is responsible for one of our basic tastes of umami and so does malted barley, so you just want to keep munching.
Plus seaweed has contains over 50 known minerals and trace elements regarded as essential body requirements and has high quantities of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and iodine and vitamins A ,B, B2, C & D – so there, I made the kebab healthy people! *looks around for award*
So, as I await my accolades for transforming Britain’s eating habits I give you, without further ado, the Umami-Bomb Beer Kebab!
(*Just before the recipe, I want to add that the statement about ‘when used correctly’ does not, and never will, refer to tripe @jayrayner1, never I tells ya!)
Umami-Bomb Beer Kebab – serves four
I served this in beer flat breads (simple recipe at bottom of the page so to speak, if you want to go the whole hog please bear in mind for your timings that you’ll need to make the dough just ahead of of the kebabs – on the upside the warming oven is a good place to pop the dough on top of to prove a little)
On the side I did sweet potato wedges (scrub skins, wedge, steam for about 20 mins until flesh gives to a fork, rest for 10 mins, roast on high heat in ground nut oil for about 25 mins, turning twice, drain on kitchen roll, salt whilst hot) with a harissa, cucumber & mint yoghurt dip.
Time: 1 hour (if you use shop-bought pitta or wraps, 1.15 if you make flat breads as below)
Food processor (or an insane willingness to grate onion)
Usual chopping knives & boards etc.
4 wooden chopsticks – soaked in water for at least an hour
Frying pan (small one if you have one, it’s only for spices)
Griddle pan, very hot grill or BBQ (if former two, you’ll also need a damn effective extractor or big windows!)
500g Welsh lamb mince (keep in fridge until last minute)
60g laverbread (freeze other 60g, another beery recipe coming up soon that calls for it!)
One large white onion (supersweet if you can get it)
2 medium-sized garlic cloves
2tbsp cumin seeds
2tbsp coriander seeds
1tsp fennel seeds
1/2 cinnamon stick
1tsp black peppercorns
1tbsp harissa (I love the Belazu stuff, it has right balance of heat for me)
50ml of strong dark beer (I used Celt Experience Ash)
1 medium egg, whisked up ( you’ll only need half so have a little pot to hand to keep rest in freezer, perhaps let down with a little milk for egg washing this pie another time!)
Flour for dusting
Groundnut oil for cooking and hands!
- If you’re using a BBQ, light it now and wait 15 minutes before starting this recipe
- Take your frying pan and pop over a medium heat
- Toast off all dry spices and whizz up in processor or pound to powder in pestle & mortar
- Whilst the spices are cooling, roughly chop your onion and peel your garlic cloves, whack in processor and whizz until a paste, take out of processor and put in sieve over sink (possibly whilst wearing industrial googles!)
- Get your lamb mince out of the fridge, and pop in processor bowl with harissa, laver bread, whizzed up spices, salt & egg
- Return onions to mix and pulse adding beer slowly, until combined but not totally smooth and not too sloppy, you need to form it around the chopsticks into makeshift sausages (you may not need all beer, it’s a ‘by eye’
- Pop the bowl in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to firm up a bit
- If using the grill put it on at this point to get uber-hot
- At -5 minutes before removing mix from fridge if you’re using a griddle pan put it on now
- Get a plate out and cover with a thin layer of groundnut oil
- Get your chopstick out of water, dry lightly and dust well in flour, this’ll help the mix to stick
- Rub groundnut oil on your hands and take a quarter of the mix and form it in a loose slightly rectangular sausage shape around the chopstick, lie it on plate, repeat
- Take your plate over to where you’re cooking and go!
- Basically, when you think a decent crust has formed on the kebab, turn it to another side, repeat for all four sides
- Make your kebab -seriously, I don’t have to tell you how to do that do I?
- Ok then, shove into middle of some flatbready stuff, totally over-add other accoutrements, try & get majority in mouth, drink beer with!
Just like everything else in life people have their personal preferences, I had mine with home-made baba ganoush, finely shredded cabbage, slivers of onion, quick-pickled cucumber and iceberg lettuce – then dipped it in the harissa yoghurt dip, of which I’d made plenty for the sweet potato wedges.
Fill yours with what you like, from fresh tomatoes to spicy salsa or pickled chillies or garlic mayonnaise!
Simple Saison Flatbreads
I rarely use cups to measure things, they are a very inaccurate thing in general, but my mum taught me this recipe when I was little and it’s stuck, it’s so easy why mess with it? This is roughly twice what you need but it freezes well, so why make it twice when you can make it once and defrost the other half?
So, here we go:
2 cups wholewheat flour
1 cup gently warmed Saison (you won’t be surprised that I used Ilkely Brewery Siberia)
1 tbsp salt
Flax seeds (optional)
Put flour, sugar, salt in bowl, work in warmed beer until you get a ball, add flax seeds if you’re using them and knead for about five minutes, put somewhere warm for 15 minutes.
Cut in half, freeze half, cut rest into four balls, roll out until very thin.
Get a frying pan very hot, individually fry breads in a mix of oil & finish second side with a knob of butter. Keep somewhere warm under a damp towel.
Wipe out pan, repeat process three more times! Ta da!