Brunei - Nasi Katok
Brunei's national dish is something called Ambuyat, which is a starchy dish which seems to be likened to glue. It is made from the trunk of the sago palm tree and therefore was not possible to get my hands on in the UK. Instead, I chose to make Nasi Katok. Nasi Katok is not too dissimilar from last week's Nasi Lemak. This makes sense as Brunei and Malaysia border each other and naturally have a large crossflow of ideas and similar ingredients and flavours to play with. The rice is cooked with pandan to infuse its flavour, but without the characterisitic coconut milk of Nasi Lemak, and topped with an anchovy-based sambal, chocl-full of flavour. The chilli and anchovies are joined by ginger, garlic, red onion, oyster sauce, sugar and tamarind. This is then accompanied by a fresh salad of tomato, cucumber and lettuce, as well as flour-fried chicken, marinated in turmeric and curry powder. I do like the addition off the chicken to the dish. As much as I do love Nasi Lemak, it's nice to have a little bit more protein than the small sardines offer.
Bahamas - Chicken Souse
Recipe from https://www.souptour.com/recipes/bahamian-chicken-souse-old-hangover-cure/
The Bahamas' national dish was also not feasible for me to cook, being conch - seafood that we we just don't really get over here. It can be served raw or fried. Instead, I have made chicken souse, a citrus-heavy soup of chicken, potato, veggies and lime. Flavoured with allspice and bay, the dish is fairly subtle, without the strong, punchy flavours I have come to expect from countries in the Caribbean. Whilst not unpleasant, this was a fairly forgettable dish, though maybe I just got the balance of flavours wrong and should have gone for a lot more lime or chili.
Benin - Kuli Kuli
Kuli kuli was actually the very final country I cooked for Around the World in Eaty Days, and boy was I disappointed. To make them, peanuts are roasted in the oven before blending into a paste along with a mixture of spices. Hot water is then added while kneading, then the mixture is squeezed through a cheesecloth to press out any oil until the paste is as dry as it physically can be. The remaining pulp is then deep fried into the above snacks. I found them to be very dry and a little cloying. That said, the flavour was excellent. The spice mix of nutmeg, chili, pepper and ginger created something not quite sweet, but definitely not just savoury. I might try experimenting with these flavours again in the future. My favourite part of this recipe, strangely enough, was not actually the kuli kuli themselves but the oil that was squeezed out of them which was essentially just tthe smoothest peanut butter I've ever had in my life, but with that lovely flavour kick of the chili.
China - Peking Duck
Recipe from https://www.marionskitchen.com/quick-easy-peking-style-duck/
Peking duck was a dish that made me very happy indeed. Whilst I did not have the money (or space) to create a whole duck's worth of Peking duck, I found this recipe which recreates the flavours in a one-day process for duck breasts insted of the usual six day process. I know it is definitely possible to create the dish at home, and I have watched videos of people doing so (many of these seem to involve the use of a hairdryer?), my fridge is unfortunately not big enough for a whole bird. In the recipe I followed, the duck is left to dry out in the fridge overnight after covering with a spice mix of salt, sugar and five spice. The next day, a maltose syrup is made with Shaoxing wine and red vinegar, the duck fried, glazed with the syrup and grilled in the oven. This creates an incredible caramalised topping to the duck, a lovely crispy texture to contrast the melt-in-your-mouth flesh. I served with rice, hoisin sauce (not pictured) spring onions and cucumber, as would often be enjoyed in a thin pancake.
Barbados - Cou Cou and Flying Fish
A slightly strange offering from Barbados, the "Cou Cou" of Cou Cou and flying fish is, funnily enough, our old friend pap in a new cunning disguise, this time mixed with okra and cooked in the slightly gelatinous liquid the okra was first boiled in. Served alongside this is flying fish (or in this case, sea bass, as flying fish is apparently yet to fly to the balmy shores of Southampton) and a simple gravy. I just felt that this dish was missing something, maybe something acidic to offset the carbs and saltiness of the fish and gravy. I'm not sure, maybe if I actually used the correct fish for the job I might have been less nonplussed by the meal.