Singapore - Hainanese Chicken Rice
Involved, but so very worth it, Singapore's Hainanese chicken rice is one of a few meals considered national dishes, along with chilli crab. The key to the chicken is that its skin is a gorgeous, slightly gelatinous, melt-in-the-mouth texture, achieved by poaching the chicken for hours. The chicken is hung, whole and upright, in a poaching broth flavoured with ginger, spring onion and everyone's favourite, MSG. It is then instantly dunked into salted ice water and rubbed with sesame oil. The rice is cooked along with chicken oil, made from rendering the fatty deposits in the tail of the bird, garlic, shallot and ginger in the stock from cooking the chicken. These were served with a dressing of sesame and soy, kecap manis, chilli sauce, caramelised shallots, tomato, cucumber, pak choi, and a ginger and spring onion oil.
Japan - Curry Rice
Recipe from https://www.justonecookbook.com/simple-chicken-curry/
Japan's national dish of curry rice is a flavour that many of us will know very well. Epitomised very well by the "Golden Curry" brand available pretty much worldwide, the curry tastes very similar to katsu curries that we find over in the UK. The curry is populated by thick cut vegetables; here I used carrots, onions and potatoes, as well as chicken thigh for protein. Whilst the flavour is well known (and well liked), this recipe encouraged the addition of honey, soy sauce and grated apple on top of the usual flavourings, which added a slightly sweeter note to the dish, which I enjoyed.
Tajikistan - Plov
I must admit fault here and say that whilst not the most beautiful dish I have created, I did an exceptionally bad job at photographing Tajikistan's plov. Plov is a simple, rice based dish of meat (I used lamb here), carrot strips, onion strips and brown rice cooked down with garlic and thyme. The Tajik method uses explicitly orange carrots, unlike its near neighbour of Kyrgyzstan, who opt for yellow carrots instead. The dish itself is fairly customisable, with optional additions of spice; according to mondaybazaarblog.com, both cumin and coriander are prominent, and saffron is a nice touch. I personally found it a little bland without the addition of spices, so I think if I were to remake it, I would definitely follow those suggestions.
Tonga - 'Ota 'Ika
Recipe from https://kara-coconut.com/recipe/ota-ika/
Tonga's answer to ceviche, 'ota 'ika is a fish salad marinated in lemon juice, then finished with tomato, cucumber, pepper, spring onion and coconut cream. I served with sweet potato, a substitute for kumara, fried up with a bit of salt. The recipe I followed suggested that the fish should be moki or blue cod, though the picture they provided definitely showed a fish more similar in colour to salmon. I chose to use cod here, as I think the texture works well with acid-based cooking. I would rate this dish highly, perfect for a hot summer day.
Guyana - Pepperpot
Even from the picture, you can tell that Guyana's pepperpot is a rich meal. Tender chunks of beef in a dark, treacly, sticky sauce spiced with flavours reminiscent of mulled wine. The flavourings are complex, with a mixture of habanero pepper, ginger, brown sugar, orange zest, thyme, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and cassareep. Cassareep is a syrup made from yucca, is what gives the dish such a molasses-like feel. For an idea of the flavour it conveys, the recipe I followed suggested a mixture of "1/3 cup molasses, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce". I must admit that the meal was a little too rich for my tastes, but that is something easily reparable with a little less sauce. The accompaniment of rice and peas did help with this though, as it soaked up a bit of the excess sauce.