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Sherry Dryja's picture

Craft Beer and Seafood Pairings

Chef Erin Coopey is best known for three things: her win on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, her ability to teach regular Joes and Janes how to cook even the most daunting of dishes and, lastly, her cookbooks, The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook and Infusing FlavorsThe Kitchen Pantry Cookbook was nominated for an IACP “Julia Child Best First Cookbook Award,” and Infusing Flavors was just published in June.

In addition to her many achievements, Chef Coopey is based in Seattle, so that means she also knows her way around seafood. Fortunately for us, we were able to access to one of her seafood recipes from Infusing Flavors plus three others not yet published in her cookbooksTo add to the fun, we paired each item with craft beer.

Whether she is teaching a class or creating a new recipe, Chef Coopey’s goal is to make cooking fun, so these recipes are easy to follow and are sure to help you cook up an enjoyable experience worth sharing with family and friends. To add to the fun, we paired each item with craft beer.

Festive is the word that best describes Chef Coopey’s award-winning Halibut Tostadas with Melon Salsa. The fish is seared in a lime-infused oil, one of the many concoctions covered in Infusing Flavors. The oil adds just the right amount of zing to the mild fish, elevating the flavors without overpowering them.

If you’re looking for a solid beer choice for a variety of seafood items, Victory Brewing Company’s Prima Pils paired well with almost every dish of Chef Coopey’s that we tried. For a real showstopper, though, try the halibut with Avery Brewing’s Fortuna Barrel-Aged Sour. The slight tang from the salt and lime in this margarita-inspired brew provided the perfect finish to the fish.

Avery’s sour was also deemed a match for Chef Coopey’s stew-like Shrimp Veracruz. It brought forward the tomatoes in the dish, making them taste fresh and fruity. Even so, for this pairing, Anderson Valley Brewing Co’s Briney Melon Gose took top choice over the sour. This watermelon sour is refreshingly tart with a hint of salt. It played well with all the ingredients in the Shrimp Veracruz, providing a base that enhanced the brininess of the shrimp and the saltiness of the olives, all while playing up the sweetness of the tomatoes.

On its own, Chef Coopey’s Pan-Seared Scallops with Green Papaya Slaw balances perfectly between sweet and savory. Pair it with Rogue’s Pendleton Pilsner to enrich the flavors with a smoky warmth.

The Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Parmesan was the only item on the menu that did not go well with Victory’s Prima Pils. In this case, we focused on the bacon, parmesan, and cream sauce as the dominant flavors to work with. Out of all the beers we tried, 21st Amendment Brewery’s Toaster Pastry Red IPA struck the perfect note and provided a sweet balance to the rich toppings on the oysters.

Chef Coopey’s recipes are full of flavor and pair beautifully with a variety of craft beers. For more recipes worth pairing with your favorite brews, take a look at her website at From there, you can also buy one of her cookbooks, sign up for a cooking class or simply learn more about this talented chef.

Halibut Tostadas with Melon Salsa

Recipe by Chef Erin Coopey

Makes 24 appetizers or 4 full-sized portions



1/2 honeydew melon, peeled and finely diced

1/2 cup minced red onion, rinsed and drained

1 cup minced red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

High-heat oil for frying

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons lime zest, for garnish

1 tablespoon lime oil (Recipe available in Infusing Flavors)

2 6 to 8-ounce halibut, cod or rockfish filets, skin removed

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

4 thin corn tortillas, each 6 inches in diameter



In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the honeydew, red onion, red bell pepper and cilantro. Stir in the lime juice, rice wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon sea salt. For best flavor refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

To make appetizer-sized tostadas, stack the tortillas in 2 equal piles. Cut each pile into 6 pie-shaped wedges, or small circles. Note: If you decide to cut small circles, you may need additional tortillas to make 24. If you are making full-sized tostadas, simply leave the tortillas whole.

Add oil to a deep fryer or heavy fry pan to a depth of at least 1 inch and heat to 375°F. (That’s just a touch above medium heat.) Add the tortilla pieces a few at a time and fry, tossing them, until golden brown. Be careful not to let them darken or they will taste bitter. Lift out and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt while still hot.

Season the fish filets generously with salt and pepper. Heat lime olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.

Add the filets and sear until the fish is pale gold, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the filets over and cook until the flesh is opaque on the outside but still slightly translucent in the center, about 3 to 4 minutes or more, depending on the thickness of the filets. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. When you are ready to serve, cut the filets cross-wise into thin slices. Top each crisp tostada with some fish, melon salsa and sprinkle with lime zest.

Erin’s Tip: Rinsing minced or chopped onions under cool running water for a couple minutes makes them more palatable when served raw.

Recipe excerpted from Infusing Flavors (Cool Springs Press 2016).


Camarones a la Veracruzana (Shrimp Veracruz)

Recipe by Chef Erin Coopey

Serves 4



2 tablespoons olive oil 

1 large green bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 medium white onion, cut in half and sliced (about 1-½ cups)

1 clove garlic, crushed 

2 (14.5-oz) cans stewed tomatoes

1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed olives

1/4 teaspoon green jalapeño pepper sauce or green taco sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup chopped cilantro 

3 cups cooked white rice 

Cilantro sprigs for garnish 



Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat; add bell peppers and onion and cook until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes with their liquid, olives, green sauce, lime juice, salt and bring to a boil. Add shrimp, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 3 to 5 minutes, until shrimp is pink, stirring occasionally.

Stir in chopped cilantro. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro sprigs.


Pan Seared Scallops with Green Papaya Slaw

Recipe by Chef Erin Coopey

Serves 4



2 cups grated or fine julienne green papaya*

½ cup grated or fine julienne carrots

½ cup blanched, refreshed and fine julienne snow peas

¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar

4 tablespoons lime-flavored olive oil


12 large sea scallops

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

Salt and black pepper to taste


Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)

Lime zest for garnish (optional)



To make the slaw, combine green papaya, carrots, snow peas, red onion and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add vinegar and olive oil, toss to combine. Season with salt. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the peanut oil. Season scallops with salt and black pepper. Add scallops to pan and sear, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Divide slaw between 4 chilled salad plates. Divide the scallops among the plates, placing them on the slaw. Garnish with cilantro sprigs or lime zest.

*Green or unripe papaya is available in Asian markets. To prepare, peel the skin away with a paring knife, then halve the papaya lengthwise, scoop out the immature white seeds. If green papaya is not available, jicama may be substituted.


Roasted Oysters with Bacon and Parmesan

Recipe by Chef Erin Coopey

Serves 4



1 dozen large barbecue-sized oysters, in the shell

1 cup heavy cream

1 to 2 cloves garlic

4 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh cracked black pepper

2 to 3 cups rock salt or kosher salt for roasting



Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Peel and slightly crush the garlic. Add the garlic and heavy cream to a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer and reduce by half (approximately 10 minutes). Remove from heat.

Spread a thick layer of rock salt onto a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.

Scrub the oysters with a wire brush until clean. Shuck the cleaned oyster and place them onto the salted baking sheet. The salt will help them to stay upright and level while roasting.

Spoon the heavy cream over the oysters, dividing it equally. Sprinkle 1-½ teaspoons of Parmesan onto each oyster. Top with bacon crumbles.

Roast the oysters until they are hot, and the cream has begun to bubble and brown, approximately 10 minutes.

Photos Courtesy of Sherry Dryja


Pat Mulloy's picture
We had 18" of snow last weekend and I am ready for spring - this article takes me there! I had Huachinango a La Veracruzana about 40 years ago in Guaymas and your Camarones a la Veracruzana take me back there - thank you! I am on my way to my fish monger and beer store. I am also enticed by the Halibut Tostadas and the scallops. Even though it is the 3rd week of April and my yard is still not visible, these recipes will take some of the bite off an otherwise awful winter.