Monday, June 28, 2010


I made this dish for Andy and me on Thursday, June 24. Mohinga is the national dish of Burma (also known as Myanmar). It is a fish noodle soup and it is AWESOME. Andy and I both absolutely loved it and had multiple helpings.

The soup was simple to make, vibrant in color, well-seasoned and incredibly delicious. Andy especially enjoyed the catfish. The recipe includes various garnishes (hard-boiled eggs, cilantro, lime and sriracha sauce), so individuals can season their portion as they like. I didn't feel like hard-boiling eggs, so I left those out. The cilantro added a crisp, refreshing taste; the lime, some tang; and the sriracha sauce, just the right about of heat.

On a side note, on searching for international recipes, I came across the blog of another person who is doing this same project. He went to culinary school, and worked in the food industry for 20 years. It is from his blog that I got the recipe for Mohinga (as well as the recipe for Riz Gras last week). I find that his recipes are really easy to follow and well-spiced. I'll probably use his blog a lot as a resource.


-1 onion, grated
-4 garlic cloves, crushed
-1" fresh ginger, peeled and grated
-1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
-1 tsp. chili powder
-1 tsp. turmeric powder
-6 c. water
-1/4 c. fish sauce
-2 small onions, quartered
-4 T. rice flour, mixed with a little cold water
-1 lb. catfish, skinned, filleted and cut into chunks
-7 oz. rice noodles, thick or thin

-3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved
-cilantro, chopped
-lime, sliced into wedges
-sriracha sauce or chili peppers diced for heat

1) Blend the onion, garlic, lemongrass and ginger in a food processor.
2) Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion mixture, chili powder and turmeric. Cook on medium until fragrant.
3) Add water, fish sauce, small onions and rice flour mixture. Mix well, bring to a boil, and stir thoroughly to remove lumps. Once thickened, reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

4) Add fish, mix, and cook for another 10 minutes.
5) On the side, boil water and add rice noodles. Boil for five minutes, until tender, and drain.
6) Serve soup on top of the noodles with garnishes on the side.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Burkina Faso

Burkinabe Riz Gras and Spiced Lamb Balls with African Hot Sauce

I made this meal on Thursday, June 17 for my parents, Sarah and Andy. We all enjoyed every aspect of this dish.

The national dish of Burkina Faso is riz gras, which translates to "fat rice." It is a dish very much like Spanish rice; it is chicken and rice simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. The inclusion of two habaneros made me concerned that it would be too spicy for our Minnesotan palates, but, in my opinion, it had just the right amount of heat. When dealing with habaneros, be sure that you wear gloves to keep the capiscum from the peppers off of your hands. If you prefer spicier dishes, then don't seed the habaneros. I did, and it was just right. There was definitely heat, but no discomfort, and it didn't knock out the other flavors of the dish. Riz gras was fairly simple to prepare, and was made mostly of ingredients that we already had on hand.

The spiced lamb balls took quite a bit more effort to prepare, but were delicious. The meat is spiced with cinnamon, ginger, coriander, red pepper and garlic. I loved it because they were sweet and savory at the same time. They'd be super good in a pita with some tzatziki (for a more Mediterranean flavor), or served as they were, with African hot sauce. African hot sauce is a spicy red pepper and tomato sauce that is very common in African cooking. It tastes like a spicy marinara.

Please click on the title of the recipes to see the original recipes.

Riz Gras

-3 garlic cloves
-2 hot chiles (I used habaneros)
-1/2 onion, finely chopped
-4 tomatoes, chopped
-1/2 c. vegetable oil
-1 lb. chicken, cubed
-4 T. tomato puree
-2 c. chicken stock
-2 c. + 3 T. white rice
-salt and pepper

1) Grind garlic, chiles, onion and tomatoes in a food processor to make a paste.
2) Add 1/2 c. oil to a large skillet and add paste mixture.
3) Put over medium high heat and simmer for 8 minutes.
4) Place chicken in a large metal frying pan. Use a little water to rinse the food processor and add this to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
5) Transfer the meat to the large skillet and stir in tomato puree. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
6) Add the rice. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
7) Check the water. Reduce to a veery gentle simmer and continue cooking, covered, for a further 10 minutes (all water should be absorbed).
8) Serve immediately.

Spiced Lamb Balls

-4 T. peanut oil
-1 c. yellow onions, chopped coarsely
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-1 tsp. ginger
-1 tsp. garlic powder
-1 tsp. crushed red pepper
-1 tsp. ground coriander
-1 tsp. salt
-2 lbs. ground lamb, cooked
-3 large eggs, lightly beaten
-1/4 c. breadcrumbs
-breadcrumbs to roll meatballs in
-peanut oil for deep frying

1) In a large skillet, sauté onions with cinnamon, ginger, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, coriander and salt in peanut oil until soft, but not brown.
2) Mix cooked lamb into onion mixture. Pulse a few times in a food processor to combine.
3) Blend eggs and breadcrumbs into the mixture.
4) Form into 32 small 1" balls. Roll each ball in more breadcrumbs.

About to be chilled
5) Chill for one hour.
6) Deep-fat fry at 375 degrees until brown, about 4 minutes.
7) Spear balls with toothpicks and serve with pilli-pilli sauce (I accidentally made African Hot Sauce instead).

African Hot Sauce

-12 chile peppers (i.e. hot red peppers)
-1 small green pepper
-1 clove garlic
-1 medium onion
-2 cans tomato paste
-4 T. vinegar
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. sugar

1) Remove stems and seeds from peppers.
2) In a food processor, grind peppers, garlic and onion.
3) Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer for 1-2 hours. Add cayenne pepper if desired.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Bulgarian Pork Kavarma Kebap with Shopska Salata and Potato Moussaka with Cheese

Oh, how refreshing to have a delicious meal after the atrocity that was Brunei! I made this meal on Monday, June 14 for me, my sister Sarah, my sister Betsey and my brother-in-law Cody.

There are three components to this dish: a salad, a pork stew and a potato dish. I originally only planned to make the pork dish (Pork Kavarma Kebap), which is one of the national dishes of Bulgaria. I later added on the shopska salata, another national dish, and in searching for that recipe, I found the potato moussaka one. I couldn't resist. I'm glad that I didn't. All three components turned out very well. I would highly recommend all of the dishes.

The shopska salata is a mixed vegetable salad that is refreshing and tasty. I used this recipe . Other recipes I found included cucumbers, but I did not. The recipe calls for Bulgarian feta and I found a European foods shop in Saint Paul called Kiev Foods whose website says that they carry Bulgarian feta; when I got there, they only had Romanian feta. Bulgaria and Romania share a border, so I felt it was close enough. This salad is easy and delicious.

The pork kavarma kebap was also very easy to prepare and also very delicious. I was a little worried about it because, where I keep all of my spices, some coconut extract had spilled. I thought that the Hungarian paprika was safe from this spill, but it carried a little bit of the aroma and taste. It didn't affect the dish much though. I followed this recipe to make this dish. It was a little heavy on the oil. I think that the recipe would still turn out using half as much.

The final component of this dish was the potato moussaka with cheese. This dish was so good (albeit oily!)! I was able to fins Kashkaval cheese at Kiev Foods, so that components was authentically Bulgarian. The cheese is strong, but good; it tastes like a strong provolone.

Shopska Salata

-1 green pepper, thinly sliced
-1 red pepper, thinly sliced
-2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
-1 onion, thinly sliced
-1/4 c. olive oil
-1/8 c. red wine vinegar
-1 T. Italian parsley, chopped
-salt and pepper
-1/4 lb. Bulgarian feta, cubed

1) Combine the vegetables, sprinkle with oil and vinegar, top with parsley and season.
2) To serve, and the cheese and toss.

Pork Kavarma Kebap

-1/2 c. vegetable oil
-2 lbs. pork, cubed
-4 leeks, chopped
-1 T. tomato paste
-1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
-1 tsp. black pepper
-1/2 c. water
-1/3 c. white wine
-1/2 onion, chopped
-1/4 c. Italian parsley, chopped

1) Heat oil in a medium saucepan to medium high. Add the pork and fry until brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon.
2) Add leeks to oil and cook until brown.
3) Add tomato paste, paprika, pepper and salt. Mix well.
4) Add water and wine and mix well. Add the pork.
5) Turn heat to low and simmer uncovered until the sauce reduces (this took probably about 20-30 minutes).
6) To serve, sprinkle with chopped onion and parsley.

Potato Moussaka with Cheese

-2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and sliced
-2/3 lb. Kashkaval cheese, grated
-2 eggs, separated
-1/3 c. sour cream
-1/4 c. vegetable oil
-salt, pepper
1) Boil potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain and cool.
2) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3) Mix the grated cheese with the egg yolks and salt to taste. Add half of the sour cream and mix. Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Carefully fol in the egg whites with the cheese mixture.
4) Grease an ovenproof casserole. Put a layer of potato slices, cover with a layer of the cheese and add salt and pepper. Repeat, making sure you end with a cheese layer.
5) Sprinkle with oil and the rest of the sour cream.

Right before going in the oven
6) Bake until brown, about 40 minutes.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Ambuyat and Fish

I'm back! After a four month suspension, the project is back in full swing. I have a couple of excuses for the break. First, I became full time again at my job starting in February. This not only made my hours at work longer, but increased the amount of take home grading and planning I had to do. Plus, I was just that much more exhausted. The other reason there was the interlude had to do with the Brunei recipe. I was intimidated by it not only because of its extremely obscure ingredients, but also because of its vague directions. Also, it just didn't sound like it would taste good. I'm too obsessive-compulsive to go out of alphabetical order, so I remained stalled until I dredged up the fortitude to cook the recipe. As it turns out, my trepidation was well-founded, as this meal was, without a doubt, one of the most vile, vomitous meals I have ever smelled or tasted.

According to wikipedia and other sites, the national dish of Brunei, a small Asian country, is ambuyat. Ambuyat is a mixture of a starch called sago and boiling water. Those from Brunei eat it at almost every meal. As it is extremely bland, they often mix it with spicy sauces to give it some flavor. Sago is hard to find in the US. I researched and learned that a close relative is tapioca starch, so that is what I used. My resulting ambuyat was a texture nightmare. It was the consistency of thick mucus. There was absolutely no flavor. I ate a half of a bite, gagged, and threw the rest away. I don't think that Andy, my mom or my dad even had the resolve to try it.

The recipe is used for ambuyat had two other components: some greens and fish. I ran into another ingredient issue with the greens. The recipe called for paku shoots. Not only could I not find these at an Asian market, but also could not find out what they even are from the internet. I decided to subsitute with Chinese broccoli. These greens are the single most revolting thing I have ever put in my mouth. From the moment I opened the shrimp paste that went into these, I was gagging. The directions in the recipe say to saute the shrimp paste in oil until fragrant; during this step, I had to stir the ingredients in the pan while I had my face turned away as I dry heaved into the sink. I hoped that the strong odor would be tempered by the large amounts of greens. Nope. I had one taste (it just touched my tongue; I couldn't even bring myself to bite into it) of the greens and had to stop. Andy had one bite and said that the shrimp paste flavor, which started out gross, just intensified to unbearable. He had one bite. My mom had one bite and couldn't taste it any more. My dad, who will eat ANYTHING, had a few pieces, but then decreed it as inedible and had to get the greens out of the house because he was so disgusted by them. They were SO GROSS!

The saving grace of this meal was the fish. While completely overpowered by other disgusting elements, it had a really nice, interesting, Asian flavor from the lemon grass, turmeric, ginger and tamarind that it simmered in. I would eat this component of the meal again.

In case you ever need to have a guaranteed vomit, make the following recipe:


-6 1/2 c. sago (tapioca starch)
-freshly boiled water
-4 c. water

1) Mix tapioca with 4 c. water. Soak for 10 minutes.
2) Drain water. Pour tapioca in a heatproof container.
3) Pour freshly boiled water over it. Mix well until tapioca is clearish and of a gummy consistency.

-1. 25 lb. white fish (I used cod because it's cheap)
-5 pips shallots
-2 pips garlic
-2 cm fresh turmeric
-2 cm fresh ginger
-5 Thai or serrano chiles (I used one because I'm afraid of too much spice)
-2 sticks lemon grass, crushed
-5 pieces dried tamarind
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
-2 1/2 c. water

1) Pound together shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger and chiles. (I used a food processor; a mortar and pestle would work, as well)
2) Clean the fish and cut into five slices.
3) Place fish in a saucepan with all ingredients. Stir well.
4) Cook. (As this direction was a bit vague... I simmered it, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.)

Revolting Greens

- 60 stalks paku shoots (I used Chinese broccoli; perhaps this is where I went wrong?)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 T. vegetable oil
-3 pips shallots
-2 pips garlic
-1 T. shrimp paste
-1/2 c. watre
-1 red chili, sliced for decoration

1) Pound together the shallots, garlic and shrimp paste.
2) Heat oil in a wok and stir fry the pounded ingredients until fragrant.
3) Stir in paku shoots. Add salt and water. Cook until soft.
4) To serve, decorate with red chili.