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Around the World in Eaty Days - Countries 176-180

Indonesia - Nasi Goreng

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Nasi Goreng (fried rice) is quick, easy and delicious. The rice is so perfectly balanced in flavour, with an impressive hit of umami from shrimp paste, salt from sweet soy sauce (I used kecap manis), spice from chilli and more depth of flavour from shallots and garlic. The usual accompaniment of sliced tomato adds that little bit of acidity to cut through. I also served with a crispy fried egg, though it would be just as usual to find it accompanied by a chopped up omelette. A runny yolk, however, holds such a special space in my heart and just makes the whole dish feel so much more luxurious when the grains of rice are coated by its golden goodness. This one has gone straight into my repertoire and I have cooked it again many times since.

Malaysia - Nasi Lemak

Malaysia's Nasi Lemak also stars rice as the main ingredient (Nasi literally translating as rice in both cultures). The rice is cooked in a mixture of coconut milk and water, with pandan leaves infusing for additional flavour. Pandan is one of my all-time favourite flavours, as comfortable in savoury dishes as it is in sweet. Whilst definitely its own flavour, I think it would be most akin to vanilla-y coconut, though definitely with more florally, grassy notes as well. You'll just have to try some for yourself - you can get it in extract or paste form if you don't feel like buying the leaves. The other key component of the dish, where a lot of the flavour comes from, is sambal ikan bilis. This is a sambal (chili sauce) starring dried anchovies, but also flavoured with chilli, shallot, red onion, prawn paste, sugar and tamarind (which provides a characteristic slight acidity). These two components are then accompanied by deep fried sardines, cucumber, peanuts and boiled eggs. Usually these are hard boiled, but as mentioned above, a softer boil just speaks to me.

Cote d'Ivoire - Garba

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Whilst most reports suggest that the national dish of Cote d'Ivoire is fufu, I think we've all seen quite enough of it for the year, so I prepared Garba instead, a popular street food. Garba consists of two parts - Attiéké / Acheke and fish. Attiéké is very similar to couscous, but made of cassava instead, so has a little bit extra sweetness when compared to its Middle-Eastern counterpart. The fish (usually tuna - I used Albacore tuna here hence its paler colour) is fried after coating in well seasoned flour. It's served with a simple salad of pepper, parsley and red onion. Normally I hate raw red onion with a passion, but the combination with the Attiéké really worked well.

Palau - Ukoy

I could not find a national dish for Palau, but did often find reference to Ukoy, a deep fried snack of shrimp and vegetables: bean sprouts, grated squash, scallions and shallots, flavoured with fish sauce and annatto. I definitely could have made these better - I think my slurry of cornstarch, flour and water was too thick, meaning I lost a lot of definition of the components in the ukoy. This also made for some quite stodgy bites. Whilst this was offset by a very tasty dipping sauce of vinegar, chilli, onion and garlic, I think I could definitely improve my batter to a consistency further from yorkshire pudding and closer to a tempura.

San Marino - Torta Tre Monti

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San Morino 's national dish is a dessert perfect for chocolate lovers, because oh boy it is completely filled and surrounded with it. Waffled wafers are sandwiched by a chocolate spread / cream mixture and built up to an excessively high level before covering in chocolate fondant icing. It's ridiculously indulgent, ridiculously sweet and ridiculously messy to make. It's good fun though - as a house, the 3 of us each made our own and attempted to make them look as tidy as possible. It took me about 25 minutes to reach the point of tidiness that you see in the above picture. What I find particularly interesting about this as a national dish is that it is actually manufactured by one particular company called La Serenissima and sold commercially (a lot more neatly than any of my efforts!).


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