The beer and pizza combination is nothing new to the Western palate. Many call it a relaxed Friday meal or the perfect accompaniment for a casual catch-up with friends. Beer and pizza is a match made in heaven.
But beer and chicken may sound unusual. Let us explain. We owe it to the South Korean culture and the tantalising binge-worthy K-drama scene. If you’re familiar with Squid Game, Vincenzo, or It’s Okay To Not Be Okay, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Chicken and beer is the Seoulite’s equivalent of our beloved pizza and beer, and somehow we’re completely on board with the new culinary experience.
But how about trying to match your beer to your chicken? After all, there is more than one way to enjoy a chicken meal. Will you have it grilled? In a creamy sauce? Or hot and spicy?
The typical KFC and beer
Korean Fried Chicken and beer — let’s give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s. In the trendy streets of inner Seoul, the locals call it Chimaek, a portmanteau word combining chikin (fried chicken) and maekju (beer). Chimaek is also popular in neighbouring countries, so you can find it in the trendiest parts of China, Thailand, Taiwan, etc.
Typically, Korean fried chicken is spicy as it is coated with a gochujang-based sauce. Gochujang is a Korean chilli paste, similar to harissa. However, you can adjust the fire in the homemade version by adding more sugar and honey to the sauce. Bear in mind that it is a dish designed to be crunchy and spicy, so you want to pair it with a mixed fermentation farmhouse ale with a light acidity to get a full experience. Super sweet stouts won’t make the cut with that fiery dish! Ideally, opt for a sour beer or a pale lager.
In Korea, chimaek (지맥) is a very popular food combination among young people 🍺🍗
What do you like to eat the most when you go out with your friends?
Click the link below to see the whole post and discover what "chimaek" means 👇
— ZERO TO KOREA (@zerotokorea) July 13, 2021
A juicy chicken pitta sandwich
Just as beer and pizza is an ideal Friday dinner, a quick and easy chicken shawarma with a beer is the perfect equivalent. What is chicken shawarma? In essence, it’s a warm pita holding a juicy, sliced, marinated chicken, served with yoghurt, lemon juice and garlic. The recipe uses warm but not hot spices for full round flavours.
The pairing with the yoghurt helps tame some of the remaining heat from the cayenne and the pepper, making it a gentle and fragrant meal. Bonus point: You don’t need cutlery to eat it. If you are going for finger food, you can pair it with sweet potato fries or some more flatbread and hummus. There is a slight hint of exotic flavours through the spices, but it’s unlikely to feel too alien. So, we’d recommend trying a soft and juicy beer, like BrewDog x Cloudwater’s NEIPA, for example.
Other exciting ideas for a Friday evening chimaek
If you are aiming for rich flavours, such as chicken in a thick honey and mustard sauce, you’ll be looking at a pairing that can enhance the stickiness without adding too much sweetness, such as a Guinness, which brings more darkness to the dish. A milk stout would be too sweet!
For the traditional chicken marsala night, we’d be grabbing a carbonated and fruity season farmhouse ale that can balance the buttery flavour.
Hopefully, this has given you some inspiration to jump on the chimaek bandwagon! There’s a lot of fun to be had with the versatility of chicken for an infinity of delicious beer pairings.