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Around the World in Eaty Days - Countries 171-175

North Korea - Kimchi

Recipe from https://www.seriouseats.com/baechu-kimchi-5184676

There are many ways of making kimchi, and there are subtle differences depending on its origin. I did slightly cheat here and use the same kimchi for both North and South Korea, though traditionally the Northern kimchi is more sour and less spicy than its Southern counterpart. However, whilst I am a big fan of kimchi's flavour, it is not always the perfect accompaniment for the types of food that I cook, particularly during the time where I'm cooking all of these dishes with various origins. So for that reason, I have made a slightly spicier version a la South Korea but without the saeujeot (Korean salted shrimp, typical of the South but rarer in the North). For those unfamiliar with kimchi, it's a spicy fermentation of cabbage (regularly napa cabbage which I believe is the same as "Chinese leaf" - its name in the UK) that can be used as an accompaniment for meals or as a mix-in for various meals such as fried rice. My old room-mate from Seoul showed me how his family used it in Kimchi-buchimgae - pancakes with kimchi mixed into the batter. The Baechu kimchi that I made has a complex flavour profile. In addition to the gochugaru (korean chile powder which gives the kimchi its characteristic spice), the flavour also comes from sugar, fish sauce, ginger and garlic, as well as the other fruits and vegetables fermenting alongside the cabbage: asian pear, daikon radish, carrot and spring onions. This picture was taken a few hours after making the kimchi, after the vegetables had started to release some of their moisture. Over time, enough was released to push all of the vegetables down into it to assure lactofermentation (the right kind of bacteria only).


South Korea - Kimchi (and fried chicken)

Recipe from https://mykoreankitchen.com/korean-fried-chicken/

Of all the recipes throughout Around the World in Eaty Days, I think this was the only one which I had actually followed before. For me, Korean fried chicken is an absolute treat - fast food that I actually find myself craving on the regular. The chicken is first marinated with rice wine, ginger and seasoning before coating in corn flour or potato starch and deep frying. It is then served with a simple sauce of gochujang (chilli paste), tomato sauce, honey, soy, garlic and sesame. It's refreshingly simple but ticks every box. As I mentioned, South Korea's national dish is actually kimchi (which at this point had been fermenting for about a week), which I served on the side to add a bit of texture and, just as importantly, some veggies!


Bangladesh - Ilish

Bangladesh's Ilish is a type of fish related to the herring. Whilst I was unable to source Ilish itself, I was able to follow the preparation of a traditional sauce for it pretty exactly, creating a dish known as Ilish Barishali. The curry sauce had a very new flavour for me, being mustard-based with flavours of coconut, nigella seed, turmeric and chili. This made for a very savoury dish when mixed with plain curd. I served with steamed rice, as suggested, and absolutely wolfed the dish down. I was expecting the mustard flavour to completely overpower the fish but was pleasantly surprised at how well the two complemented each other.


Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Roasted Breadfruit and Jackfish

Another dish here where I was unable to find the correct fish for the job. Jack fish, known as pike in the UK, were unfortunately neither present in supermarkets nor in fishmongers I visited. What I could find, however, was the other key ingredient of the dish - bread fruit. There are not many foods that I don't enjoy, but bread fruit is one of them. People say that it tastes like soft bread when fully ripe, but the only version I have been able to find is pre-canned, and tastes very similar to a poorly cooked potato with a slightly sour flavour. I'm guessing, therefore, that this must be a slightly less ripe version. The preparation of the fish is tasty though, fried with a crust of flour, onion, chive, garlic and thyme, and served with tomatoes.


Timor-Leste - Ikan Pepes

Recipe from https://latendresseencuisine.com/vivaneau-en-croute/


To finish off a fish-heavy week, Timor-Leste's Ikan Pepes is snapper (which I could actually source from a fishmongers!) cooked in an punchy crust wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in the oven. The crust is a spicy one, made of chilies, cashews, tomato, turmeric, dried shrimp, palm sugar, lemongrass and lime, and is finished off cooking under a grill or on a barbecue to get the lovely browning you see above. Whilst the level of spice was a little too much for me, I would definitely recreate the crust with fewer chillies and I see no reason that it would be any less delicious for a different fish, or even for something a bit meatier.

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