July 25, 2014
Two things happened to me recently which impacted the way I think about food.
1.) I traveled far abroad and remembered how much I love the food and cultures of different societies around the world.
2.) While watching an old episode of Masterchef, I saw the best home cooks in America utterly fail at making simple Chinese Food.
From the meaningful to the meaningless, these two experiences made me want to do something to expand my culinary encyclopedia.
Therefore I am taking on the daunting, yet fun task of cooking one dish from every country in the world…in alphabetical order.
I hope this will challenge my technical cooking skills as well as my palette.
I will be posting pictures, recipes, and thoughts as I go. So please join me if you would like and maybe we can learn some things together.
October 3, 2015
Brunei is an interesting place, a seemingly Middle Eastern-style Islamic pseudo-monarchy, way out far East and isolated on the edge of an island. This may come as a bit of a shock to you (as it did to me), to find out that Brunei, despite having a famous Sultan, is NOT in the Middle East. It’s funny because if you had asked me, I wouldn’t have known where to place it on a map, but certainly would not have guessed it was near the Philippines.
Located on the north side of the island of Borneo, in fact, Brunei really is all tucked away and easy to miss or forget about. Although Borneo (which takes its name from Brunei) is the 3rd largest island in the world, Brunei occupies just 1% of that area. Slightly larger than Delaware, it would be the 49th biggest state, and yet has been ranked as high as the 5th richest nation in the world. It is also that high in per capita purchasing power, largely due to the large deposits of petroleum and natural gas, which were discovered in the early 20th century.
The national language is Malay, as it is for Malaysia and Indonesia, who also share Borneo, and there are more speakers of this worldwide than of other popular tongues such as: French, Vietnamese, Korean, Urdu, and Italian. All would seem well aside from a brief 3 ½ year occupation by the Japanese post-Pearl Harbor attack, but there is more to it.
Despite a high standard of living, only behind Singapore in the region, and very much like them, law penalties are unreasonably harsh. When the revised law code was announced in 2014, many including the UN became worried at the list of offenses which could incur the death penalty such as: “Rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, insulting any verses of the Quran…,blasphemy, declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, and murder “. Although their legal system is based on the Britain’s, who had a heavy influence in molding modern Brunei, Sharia law can supersede many rulings or decisions. Stoning is also listed as an acceptable punishment in many cases, but to this date I do not believe any stoning or capital executions have occurred.
In addition, the aforementioned Sultan wields tremendous power in all facets of government. Despite having a parliament, all real power lies with the Sultan, and he and the royal family are sacrosanct. It is an absolute monarchy which no one questions and which has existed in a seemingly unbroken line since 1368. There was also a Sultan Muhammad Ali in 1660, which I had to mention because it’s awesome. And yes before you ask, there are both butterflies and bees on the island of Borneo.
Bruneian cuisine is very similar to that of Malaysia, Singapore, and other nearby countries. Beef is expensive and thus avoided, as is pork due to halal restrictions. Fish and rice, as well as noodles and some types of indigenous deer are common. A peculiar and unique dish to Brunei is called Ambuyat. It is made from the trunk of a palm tree and is a sticky, slimy goop. Although this is the national dish, I did not make it and I will not apologize, go look up a picture of it.
Instead I made a Bruneian Beriani, which is a chicken and rice dish with a native spice blend. I used a mini food processor to grind the spices and nuts together but a mortar and pestle would also work well. The combination of the seasonings gave the chicken an amazingly earthy flavor and texture. The bright yellow from the turmeric was a nice visual and provided great contrast on the plate.
Turmeric keeps popping up in many dishes and I am beginning to develop quite a fondness for it. In its raw form it is a rhizome that looks like ginger. Long before it was used in cooking; it mainly served as a potent dye for obvious reasons. As a staple of herbal medicine, it has historically been used to treat many ailments of the stomach and liver. After recently injuring my back, I found it listed as an anti-inflammatory and whether it is a placebo effect or not, the times when I have eaten it do seem to be accompanied by an increased abating of symptoms. You be the judge! As a side dish, I made coconut rice which was delicious and the creaminess from the coconut milk which permeates the rice was a perfect counter point to the spiced nature of the chicken.
I will see you next time in Bulgaria, where we will sadly not be eating bulgur wheat…
2 tsp cinnamon
1/6 tsp clove
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 cup shallot (or onion +garlic)
1.5 tsp salt
14 g (.5 oz) almonds
1/2 tbs poppy seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
enough oil/butter to cook onions
- Cut chicken into pieces.
- Grind together garlic, ginger, chillies, poppy seeds, cashew nuts and almonds.
- Heat oil/butter and fry cloves, cinnamon, shallots.
- Add in the chicken pieces, 1 tsp salt, and ground ingredients.
- Stir to mix and cook covered for 10 minutes.
- Add in salt.
Easy Coconut Rice
3/4 cup medium or long grain rice of your choice
1 1/2 cup coconut milk (I like reduced fat)
1/2 cup water
Follow the standard rice directions per your rice choice.
Make sure to add more water if needed to prevent from burning during cooking.
Use a lower temperature to cook the rice then normal to account for thicker liquid and
lower burning point.
September 15, 2015
Do you hear that?! It’s getting closer… My God! Your hips… why are they moving like that… it must be… The Samba! Phew, don’t be alarmed, we are just in Brazil and that reaction is perfectly normal, I think.
Brazil is a huge country with a lot of people (5th in population and 5th in area), and although one of the largest energy consumers in the world, much of their power comes from renewable sources, including the largest hydroelectric plant in the world (Itaipu Dam). I’m going to assume you know basic facts like that it is the only South American country to speak Portuguese. Let’s start with a different part of its founding instead. So… which Age of Discovery conquistador claimed Brazil for Portugal? Henry the Navigator? Magellan? Da Gama? Nope… Pedro Álvares Cabral. Exactly, I have no idea who that is either. He was your run of the mill nobleman, military commander, explorer of the time, who was on the heels of Da Gama’s newly found route around Africa. In 1500, he took his fleet further West and discovered what is today Brazil. He has the distinction of possibly being the first human to touch four continents. To settle the claiming of South America between Spain and Portugal, the Pope famously drew a line down the middle, and the land to the East (Brazil) went to Portugal.
Unless you are a trivia buff or just memorized all the world capitals for no good reason, it may surprise you that Rio de Janeiro is not the capital. However, it was the temporary capital of Portugal after 1808 when the royal family fled Lisbon ahead of Napoleon’s invasion. Since 1960, Brasilia has been the capital, a city built at great expense for just this purpose.
When it comes to eating in Brazil, they love their beef. They overtook Australia as the leading beef exporter in 2003 and were only passed this year by India (yes…I know, India… apparently, India exports mostly buffalo which counts as beef in the rankings, but still). So you will be shocked I’m sure to find, not only no beef in my recipe, but no meat at all! This was a bit of a turn for me, but I feel like these dishes gave me a chance to alter the common image of Brazil.
So I made a creamy yam soup that actually does not have any cream in it, and what is affectionately referred to as “tasty sawdust”: Farofa. The yam or sweet potato soup is straight forward and delicious. By blending the yam all the way to the point of puree, the starchiness thickens the dish so there is no need for dairy. The Farofa… is interesting. That is really an understatement but true none-the-less. It is extremely dry and sticks in your throat, the flavor and texture are fascinating though. By using tapioca flour, it absorbs all the moisture from the butter, egg, and onion making a unique kind of paste. I took the dish a step further to farofa tropeiro by adding in some black beans. I’m glad we made it and it did taste good but I’m not sure I will ever get the feeling of that texture out of my mouth. But still, I encourage you to give it a try because you might get something different out of the experience and that is why we are all here in the first place.
I will see you next time in Brunei… the go-to place when you absolutley, positively need a Sultan immediately.
Creamy Yam Soup (Sopa de Cará)
1 lb yam or sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, mashed
4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cubed
6 cups beef stock (or vegetable stock))
3 Tbsp Italian parsley (optional)
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil, then add the chunks of yam and cook for five minutes. Add the onion and garlic and continue to cook for about three minutes, or until the onions are soft and starting to become clear. Add the stock, bring to a very slow boil, and cook until the yams are very soft and tender.
Rremove the yam chunks from the broth. Using a potato masher, puree the yam completely, then stir the puree back into the broth. Add the cubes of tomato and cook for a five minutes. Turn off the heat and let the soup stand on the stove for about 3 minutes, then serve in bowls or mugs, sprinkling chopped parsley on the surface if desired.
Black Beans (optional)
7 oz. tapioca/cassava flour
2 tablespoons of butter
- Melt the butter in a medium-hot pan, then fry the onion.
- Add the egg and mix for a moment or two.
- As the egg scrambles, add in the flour and mix well to make sure everything is buttery.
- Cook for a minute or two then remove from the heat.
- Season with salt.
Botswana is a stable democratic country with a very high gross national income and the highest standard of living in sub-Saharan Africa, equal to that of Mexico or Turkey. Because of this, there really isn’t much to say about its history that stands out to me. After writing a fair number of these entries I am going to interpret that as a positive thing. Too many countries have gone through revolutions, invasions, and economic downturns over the centuries; an absence of that is a nice change of pace.
There are a few items of interest I came across: one good and one not so good. Botswana is home to the Orapa diamond mine, the largest by area in the world. Not only that, but it produces 11 million carats of diamond per year valued at roughly $1.6 billion, which also ranks first among world mines. Between it and its sister mine, 3000 workers are employed, which explains the onsite hospital and school system for children. And just in case you were curious, the return rate on the ore excavated is less than 1 carat for every ton of rock.
Cattle is also becoming an important source of income for Botswana, however this is leading to quickly deteriorating land and resources. Seventy percent of the country is in the Kalahari Desert, which makes water a precious and precarious commodity. But even greater than the risk of desertification and water shortage is the alarmingly high HIV rate. It is estimated that, as of 2006, approximately 25% of the adult population had the disease. However, through comprehensive prevention programs including free or cheap drugs, the mother to child transmission rate was cut from 40% to only 4%. It is hoped that over time this massive improvement will curtail the spread of the disease.
The most common dish that I could find is called Seswaa (which is a boiled then shredded meat served with a porridge) and because it seemed like every world food blogger cooked this one, I went in another direction. This one I found from the Botswana Outdoor Cookbook and features oxtail, which I just happened to have in my freezer! Over the last few years this is really one ingredient I am willing to splurge a little on. It’s not wildly expensive, but considering a lot of the weight is bone, you might pass over it when shopping at your local grocery store. If you have the time and patience to cook it long and slow, it will make a beef broth so luscious on the lips you might need to take a cold shower.
This recipe is straight forward and at first not very different from perhaps a southern European stew. What really changed it for me is the addition of the butter beans. It is a subtle and delicious element which also thickens the soup and provides protein and a textural contrast. I almost always drain and wash canned beans when cooking, but this is one case where that starchy liquid left clinging to the beans works as a thickener so you don’t have to worry about cornstarch, arrowroot powder, or any other thickening agent.
What continues to strike me after only 25+ countries is how much of the world eats soups and stews. It makes sense: they are easy to cook, able to include whatever is around, and can be a communal meal option. I just can’t help but thinking that the last thing I would want, especially in the heat of the summer in some of these countries, would be a bowl of hot soup. Then again, the desert gets mighty cold at night, so what do I know.
Next time we meet in Brazil, or as I like to call it, “the answer to the trick question about what is the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world?”… here’s a hint… it’s not Portugal…
Botswana Oxtail Stew
oxtail + 1 lbs stew beef
1 onion sliced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp paprika
1 can butter beans (almost all the way drained)
2.5 carrots sliced
1.5 lbs potatos peeled and cut up
6 oz green beans cut up
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 bay leaves
2 TBS tomato paste
- Put the oxtail in a large pot and add just enough water to cover it. With the lid off, cook the meat for about 30 minutes until the water has evaporated. At this point, the meat will start to brown in the fat released by the oxtail. Turn the meat so that it browns on both sides.
- Once the meat has browned on both sides, add onions,garlic, and carrots and mix well. Add the oxtail add a cup of stock, add bayleaf and spices, Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for about 2 hours, until the meat is soft.
- Check the meat once in a while to make sure there is still enough liquid in the pot to cover it. Add more if necessary. Add the potatoes and cook till ready, add the beans and cook until the vegetables are soft (about 30 minutes).
Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Doom of Old Illyria (it’s a GoT reference)… GoT means Game of Thrones… just read the thing.
August 6, 2015
So…Bosnia and Herzegovina… yet another place I am woefully ignorant of. The name Bosnia most likely comes from a nearby river, but I find its partner’s moniker more interesting. It stems from the German hereditary title of Herzog, which is the equivalent of “duke”. Thus, it is a dukedom, which it was early on in its history. In antiquity, it was part of the large region of Illyria (the setting of Twelfth Night) which essentially mirrored and rivaled the length and breadth of Italy on the opposing eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. And as with most forces who were allied with and then turned against the Roman Republic, it was conquered and dissolved into local kingdoms, and those regions which were in opposition were…“taken care of”.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s histories are ultimately not happy ones: marred by large scale ethnic conflict resulting in genocide and war crimes. And even before that there was something called…World War I? Isn’t it weird that they would name it that at the time, almost like they expected more in the future…humm. And of course the long and complicated series of political dominos that ended in war began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo by Gavrilo Princip.
Rather than get into all that detail (which you can look up pretty much anywhere), I will simply say that there are many ethnic groups living within the same borders (Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks, etc). Following WWI and the fall of the Ottoman Empire (which lasted much longer than the Roman Empire…I’m just saying, we’ll probably address that when we get to Turkey…in a few years…), the large Austro-Hungarian Empire was divided into many of the Balkan countries we know today.
So often in our history, land was divided up seemingly appropriately at the time, with less than adequate regard for where certain ethnic groups ended up. This notion of separation is so accepted, one of the houses of government is the “House of Peoples”, with five representatives each from the Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats. Can you imagine if in America congress was divided between the Irish, Italians, Germans, English, etc? This is still progress, as prior to the acceptance of this format, certain peoples were being subjugated and discriminated against for centuries, and given enough time… genocided against. The ethnic cleansings of the 1990’s forced NATO to carry out two bombing campaigns in ’95 and ’99. The first was named “Operation Deliberate Force”, which I feel is a little a less subtle then these titles usually are. But what do they eat???
I’m glad you asked; sometimes I forget this is a food blog. The cuisine of this region is actually very interesting. It is situated perfectly between East and West, North and South, and has been ruled by the European Austrians and the Arabic Turks. It would not be uncommon to see Baklava and Kefir, which are so heavily associated with the Middle East, next to potatoes and other continental fodder. The dish I picked is amazing. It is a Creamy Zucchini Soup… with no dairy. That’s right… a creamy soup with NO dairy. I’m not one of those adamant proponents of eliminating all dairy from one’s diet, but I have to say, the less dairy I find myself eating, the better I generally feel, so there is probably something to that.
One of the goals of this undertaking has been to familiarize myself with global ingredients. This is a task that would not have been possible even 20 years ago. The selection and assortment of imported spices and other foods is truly a wonder if you think about how far they have traveled to get to your plate. So when I saw Vegeta listed as an ingredient two things crossed my mind: “Oh man, I really need to go back and watch Dragon Ball Z it’s been too long”, and “where am I going to find a Croatian spice blend in central Ohio?” Now I should add the words “easily” and “affordably” to that sentence because I am doing my best to cook within our means and not spend a lot for one ingredient for one dish. This is especially true when the recipe even points out that you could use vegetable broth instead. But I always try.
So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I found a canister at my local supermarket. It is now my go-to bouillon base when I need to make vegetable broth or season any dish, it is flavorful and unique and kicks regular vegetable broth’s butt. So next time you are at the grocery store, poke around and see if you can find it, you might be surprised. Ingredient interlude over.
This recipe is beyond easy and the only tool you need is a stick blender (though I guess any kind of blender would work on low). It is a one-pot wonder and has practically no fat, two criteria for my favorite dishes. I will say that in other recipes I might leave the bacon garnish off, and of course that is an option for anyone, but I do feel that in this dish, with the otherwise lack of meat, it is well worth it for the accompanying flavor and texture. You don’t have to use a lot to get a huge improvement overall and the same goes for the feta on top. I know I will be making this many times next winter: a giant steaming bowl of creamy goodness.
Bosnia and Herzegovina. I’ve typed it so many times in writing this and still can’t seem to spell it right and that is my cross to bear. I will see you next in Botswana which is roughly the size of France… so I assume their culinary history is just as impressive…
Bosnian Creamy Zucchini Soup
1 large Zucchini, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
1 Onion, chopped
2 large Carrots, diced
1 Garlic clove, minced
3 large Potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoon olive Oil
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Paprika
Goat Cheese (optional)
4 -5 cups Vegetable Broth (can be substituted with water and 1 tablespoon Vegeta, Bosnian spice mix)
Salt and Pepper
a little crumbled Bacon (optional)
- Heat the olive oil and paprika in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add onions, garlic and carrots and saute until onions start to lose opaqueness
- Mix in diced potatoes and vinegar and saute, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are translucent.
- Add zucchini and enough broth to just cover the vegetables then bring to boil. Lower the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked.
- Using an immersion blender blend the soup until creamy, you can leave some potato and zucchini chunks for texture if you want.
- Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, top the soup with feta and some bacon bits.
July 20, 2015
Bolivia…that one South American country you always forget is there (at least that I do). This is really a shame, aside from being one of the only two that are land-locked, it is named for Simón Bolívar, the rebel and freedom fighter who played a huge role in the independence of so many of the South American countries. He was an interesting guy and yet in the US we are taught very little about him or his namesake land. Let’s change that…
First of all, Bolivia’s coat of arms has an alpaca on it, so, right there, it’s better than everyone else’s. If that wasn’t enough it has a lovely palm tree AND a Papa Smurf hat!!! Although, I think the coat of arms predates the Belgian comic…yea that’s right, the Smurfs are Belgian, it didn’t come up when we did that country and now I kind of regret it…but I digress.
The hat in both instances is actually a Phrygian cap which dates to antiquity. It represents freedom and the pursuit of liberty, so very appropriate for a country named after Señor Freedom Pants. Bolívar is still a polarizing figure due to his political beliefs. Although he admired American Democracy, he believed it would not work in South America. He thought only a president for life with a firm ruling hand could keep the region under control.
During the Spanish colonial period the country was known as Upper Peru. Its history is littered with instability and the loss of territory to other neighboring countries. Over half of the original lands have been lost. Regardless of its current size, it has the second highest natural gas reserves in South America and has a long term agreement to sell to Brazil. They also produce a lot of coca leaves…for medicinal and religious uses of course. The Pope denied taking some recently to help him cope with the altitudes of the capital… La Paz, not Sucre… Sucre is also a capital…it has two capitals… just deal with it. Instead he said that he opted for nice Mate tea…did the Pope lie??? You be the judge!
Tonight we dine on wrapped up little boys…and no, this is not from the Jonathan Swift cookbook. Niños Envueltos is a really tasty, if difficult to assemble, dish. You are basically using swiss steak/cube steak as the wrapper to put around a host of ingredients. If done correctly, it can be a visually stunning dish and very impressive, and even if not, it still tastes great. The one thing I would do next time would be to pound out the beef even thinner, and make sure it has been out of the refrigerator for some to warm up and make the meat more malleable. Well I just ran out of “M”s after that sentence so I think I will call it a day in Bolivia.
Next time we rendezvous in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I’m sure we’ll have a mouth full no matter what…
6 swiss/cube steaks
1 cup of frozen green peas, defrosted
1 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 eggs, beaten well (mix in a little grated cheese or milk if desired)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef broth
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook carrots in pan or microwave until slightly tender, set aside.
- Cut onion in half then slice into quarter inch slices; set aside.
- In a large fry pan cook the beaten eggs. Don’t scramble the eggs, let them cook as one large thin sheet.
- Slice the cooked egg into half inch wide strips; Set aside.
- Season steaks with salt and pepper.
- Top each steak with a layer of each ingredient starting with the egg, then bacon, then carrots and peas.
- Roll the beef and fillings up into a roll and secure meat with toothpicks to prevent unrolling.
- Brown the beef rolls on all sides in pan with oil.
- In a pot large enough to accommodate all beef rolls, combine onions, garlic, tomato paste, paprika, beef stock, and one cup water; mix well to dissolve the tomato paste.
- Add beef rolls to pot; bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and cook until beef is tender and cooked through.
- Adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Turn off heat; remove bay leaf; move beef rolls to a platter.
- Blend remaining liquid and onion mixture with stick blender/food processor/blender until it becomes a smooth sauce.
- Top beef with sauce.
June 4, 2015
Bhutan. A mysterious land in the East… because I’m pretty sure we never learned about it in school. Isn’t it by Indi…Chin…yes… the answer is yes. It is right in the heart of it all. So much so that half the world’s population lives within a 2500 mile radius of Bhutan. And yet due to its location at the end of the Himalayas (or as my friend Anshula from college would lecture me, the him-AH-lee-uhs), it remained largely isolated from the rest of the world until the mid 20th century.
It’s not a big country (slightly larger than Maryland), and it’s not a populous country (same number of people as North Dakota), but it often ranks as the happiest country in Asia and in the Top Ten happiest countries in the world. Why is this? Well there are a lot of things to be happy about if you live there. Population density is one of the lowest, so there is space to breathe, the government has been stable and is the only Buddhist kingdom in the world supporting the faith with substitutes, and the ecosystem is simply wonderful. Due to prolonged isolation and remarkable pro-active conservation efforts, Bhutan’s lush plants and safe wildlife make for an idyllic, secluded, mountain kingdom. Go look up pictures, I’ll wait… really…just google images “Bhutan”…………………I KNOW RIGHT… when can we go!? Also the royal family is the House of Wangchuck… and that name is just too good.
I made a beef and mushroom Tshoem, which is “curry” in Bhutanese. Curry is of course the word meaning sauce and not always indicative of what we in the West think of when we think of the use of curry powder such as in Indian cuisine. This dish is one of my favorites so far (I’ve been saying that a lot), savory, sweet, and almost buttery. Using fresh ginger and oyster mushrooms are a must and they make the dish what it is. I even think adding more mushrooms would have been great, you can never have too many!
Our side dish was Kewa Datshi, which is potatoes and cheese. Datshi is the word for cheese and is featured in many dishes including the national dish Ema Datshi. I found this so interesting as you don’t often find cheese in Asian cuisine. The trick here is that you want to use a white farmer’s cheese; I used a Queso Blanco from the local Mexican grocery. It is not a highly seasoned dish, which is why it complements the Tshoem so well.
Next time you see me…we will be in Boliva… if you can bolieve it.
Tshoem (Beef and Mushroom)
- 1 large garlic clove (peeled)
- Fresh ginger, peeled and cut into a 3/4-inch cube
- 2 TBS stick unsalted butter
- ½ pound boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 –inch cubes
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced/chopped)
- 1 medium fresh green chili peppers (seeded and cut into julienne strips)
- 1.5 oz fresh oyster mushrooms
- Freshly ground black pepper
Chop the onion coarsely in a food processor (a few pulses). Set aside. Drop the garlic and ginger through the feed tube with the motor running and chop finely, about 10 seconds.
*you can of course use your knife skills instead of a food processor if you don’t mind slightly larger bits.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the beef, onion, water, and salt and simmer over low heat until just tender, about 1 hour and 50 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and remaining ingredients and cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes.
- 4 Potatoes (any kind other than russet – gold for a little mushy – red for firm)
- 1/3 cup of cheese, (farmers or almost any kind of white cheese)
- 1/4 cup of chopped red onions
- 1 tbs oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chili powder (vary amount according to your tolerance)
Cut potatoes into small pieces. Put the potatoes along with some oil and salt in a saucepan or pot. Add 1 and 1/2 cup of water. Cut the cheese into small pieces and when potato is almost cooked, add the cheese. You can add some chopped onions and tomatoes to taste. Don’t forget the chili powder. You don’t want too much water in this dish but don’t let it dry up completely either. Add little water every time it gets low.
May 4, 2015
So… Bermuda is not a country, it is a British territory. I think deep down I knew this, but in my haste to bring you a continued stream of top notch factoids and culinary ventures…I forgot. So as a compromise (and because I already made the dish), let’s settle on an abridged entry.
Bermuda was first discovered by Spanish captain Juan de Bermudez in 1503. The island was surrounded by dangerous reefs so he did not actually go ashore. This is important to keep in mind, because 106 years later those reefs would save the lives of 150 English sailors including Pocahontas’ future husband John Rolfe. The ship Sea Venture was lost in a hurricane on its way to deliver much-needed relief to Jamestown colony. As it was a young ship, the timbers had not set fully and it began to take on water. The next day, land was spotted and the crew crashed the ship against the reefs to make it to shore. 350 to 450 people died, among who were Rolfe’s first wife and child, and those who made it were marooned for over 9 months.
This is widely believed to have been the basis for The Tempest by William Shakespeare, which was written within the following 2 years. Eventually, many of the survivors built a few boats and made it to Jamestown, where they found conditions far worse than they were on the island.
Bermuda marks the northern most point of the Bermuda Triangle and is in the middle of Hurricane Alley, which causes many of the phenomena attributed to the mysterious occurrences… also aliens. During the War of 1812, the British naval base of operations was Bermuda and where the attacks on Washington D.C. were planned.
The dish I made was a fairly straight forward Fish Chowder (say it Frenchy!). Although the recipe called for Red Snapper, I did some research and found that catfish would be an acceptable substitute and is probably easier for a lot of people to find at their local megamart. The real key to this soup is the clam juice. I cannot stress this enough, it will not be the same without it. You can buy this bottled at most supermarkets, or like I did, drain some cans of canned clams (using the meat for another application). This is a quick, easy dish and very flavorful, you just can’t go wrong!
Next time…we travel to Bhutan.
Bermuda Fish Chowder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1.5 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups clam juice
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 pound red snapper (or catfish) fillets, cut into 1 inch pieces
- Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add celery, carrots, onion, green pepper, and garlic; saute about 8 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute. Add clam juice, potatoes, canned tomatoes with juice, Worcestershire sauce, jalapeno pepper, bay leaf, and ground black pepper. Simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring about every 30 minutes.
- Add fish. Simmer until snapper is easily flaked with fork, about 10 minutes.