Recipes from Marche, Italy

For this entry, I made two recipes. Neither of them were especially good, but I don't blame the people who posted the original recipes or any of the traditions they came from, I blame myself and my propensity for Googling things that might kill me.

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Brodetto

A seafood stew with mussels and clams, minus the Vibrio.

Recipes from Marche, Italy: Filone Casereccio

An Italian bread that will come out much better than mine did if you use fresh brewer's yeast and steam.

Recipes from Malta

This is actually the third time I’ve cooked a meal from Malta. The first time, I cooked the meal and then just did not write the blog post. Years went by.

Recipes from Malta: Imqarrun

Imquarrum (also called Imqarrun il-forn) is descended from a dish served in Sicily, but the Maltese have adopted it as a traditional staple. The key to making this dish is to be patient.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Recipes from Chile

It's good to be back in South America, a land without cassava, peanuts or shrimp paste. Don't get me wrong, I dislike only one of the ingredients on that list—but lately have been inundated by all three. And I do love a little variety.

This week we are in Chile, a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Chile is to South America what California is to the US—a place that everyone who doesn't live there thinks is just a mile-wide strip of beach.

Hey, what's that pale green bit down there? Turns out Chile claims some
480,000 square miles of ice and penguins down in Antarctica.

Of course, for Chile that's actually closer to the truth than it is for California. Chile is 2,700 miles long with an average width of 109 miles (compared to 250 for California). It is the longest country in the world, and it has the fifth-longest coastline—48,000 miles if you count all those inlets, fjords and peninsulas.

Chile is also a land of prosperity and stability. It leads Latin America in human development, income per capita and economic freedom, and corruption is nearly absent from its government.

Like many South American nations, Chile's cuisine is descended from Spain and enhanced by local ingredients and influences from various other nationalities (there's a little Germany, Italy and France thrown in, with some Middle Eastern on the side). The long coastline, of course, means that seafood plays a big part in traditional cuisine. In fact, this is where the (duh) Chilean Sea Bass comes from, you know that very expensive piece of fish that, if you eat it, will make you susceptible to being struck by lightning or possibly just by the wrath of people who promote sustainable eating (The Chilean Sea Bass is not actually endangered, but it's illegally overfished, which qualifies it as an unsustainable species. Or so I've read.).

Most of the rest of Chile's food, as far as I can tell, is dessert. If internet resources are anything to go by, anyway. Actually that's not completely fair—I did find a lot of recipes on "Chilean Recipes," home of Chilean blogger Sonia Paz Baronvine-Silva. But most of the main courses were either watery-looking beef soups (which don't really appeal to me, though that's just my personal tastes) or really heavy or stodgy looking dishes like a fries and beef dish, fried fish and something that looked a lot like a tamale pie. Again, personal tastes. So I went with this recipe (also from Sonia's blog):

Paila Marina
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds cod or other firm white fish, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 pound mussels in the shell
  • 1/2 pound crab meat
  • 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deviened
  • 1/2 pound clams in the shell
  • 1/4 pound scallops
  • 1/4 pound sliced octopus (I used calamari steaks)
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
On the side (also from Sonia), because every seafood stew needs bread:

  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 packet)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup lard, softened
And for dessert (yes, also from Sonia):

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 sifted powder sugar, divided
  • 1 cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 can dulce de leche
  • Powder sugar for dusting
First the bread, since that always takes some time.

Now at the risk of sounding broken recordish, I'll say what I always say: put all the ingredients in your bread machine, set it on the dough cycle, and then skip ahead to the part where you have to roll out the dough.

If you don't have a bread machine, start by proofing the yeast in the warm water. Meanwhile, place the four in a bowl and add the salt and sugar.

When the yeast is frothy, pour it into the flour mixture, then add the milk. Mix until blended, adding a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough has the correct consistency. Knead until elastic (about 10 minutes). Add the lard and knead until smooth.

Oil a glass bowl and put the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size.

Roll the dough out until it is about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. Dust with flour and fold in half. Repeat twice, letting the dough rest for a few minutes between foldings. After folding it the third time, let it rest for another 5 minutes.

Use a biscuit cutter to cut the dough, then place them on a greased cookie sheet. Use a fork to make cross-hatches in the top (I didn't bother. Actually, I forgot.) and let rise for another 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Yes, some of them are looking pretty wonky.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the rolls have risen, place them in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Remove and let cool.

Now for the main course:

First cook the onion in the oil over medium-high heat. When soft, add the garlic and stir until the onions are translucent (no more than 2 minutes). Add the salt and pepper to taste.

Add the cod and the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 5

Add the rest of the seafood and cook until the shells open and the shrimp is pink (this should take about 5-8 minutes).

If any of the shellfish don't open, throw them away. They're no good.

Sprinkle cilantro over the stew and serve.

And at last, the dessert:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or waxed paper.

Beat the egg yolks with half of the powdered sugar until they thicken and turn a pale yellow color.

In a mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the rest of the sugar.

Now sift the flour together with the baking powder. Fold 1/3 of the flour into the egg yolks, then add half the egg whites. Fold in the next 1/3 of the flour, then add the rest of the whites. Now add the last of the flour.

Drop approximately 2 tablespoons of batter at a time onto the cookie sheet. Leave about two inches between each one (they spread a lot). Sprinkle powdered sugar over.

Bake for 7 minutes. The cakes should be turning slightly brown on the bottom.

Cool the cakes on a wire rack, then spread dulce de leche on the flat side of one and top it with another. Finally, dust the finished empolvados with powdered sugar.

So as you know, I don't give my kids fish so Martin and I ate this meal alone. Let me just start by saying that the hallullas were really good. But then again, I never met a fresh baked bread I didn't like, unless you count the loaf I made two days ago that I forgot to put salt in. As for the Paila Marina, I liked it. Martin usually yawns when I give him fish, though, and this stew didn't really elicit any unusual responses from him. Except that he refused to have anything to do with the clams and mussels, which after eight years of marriage surprised me a little since I had no idea he was that opposed to shellfish. Of course, in his defense I don't really cook it that often.

We liked the empolvados, though, but I have to admit that I think I'm a little on the fence about dulce de leche. I love caramel but dulce de leche is, well, a little *too* caramel. Which frankly I didn't even know was possible. Still, that didn't stop me from eating them … though I just had the leftovers without the dulce de leche. That is, the ones that were still sitting on the plate after my kids discovered them there the next day.

Next week: Canton, China

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Recipes from Champagne-Ardenne, France

This week we're having a capon party with champagne. Don't you just love Google Translate?

More on that later. But first I wanted to complain about my decision to divide some of the larger countries (or in France's case, countries with larger culinary traditions) into regions. I'm starting to regret this idea, because it makes the research difficult. Most collections of world cuisine aren't divided into regions, so finding specific recipes from places as small as Champagne France, for example, can be a real challenge.

Thanks to a reader, I do have a couple of regionally-divided French cookbooks on the way—but naturally they did not arrive in time for this meal. Naturally.

Anyway, the region of France that is known as Champagne-Ardenne is (duh) the birthplace of champagne (the bubbly kind). It is bordered by Belgium, so the two areas share some culinary influences. With its verdant forests, lakes, rivers and miles of vineyards, Champagne-Ardenne is one of the most beautiful regions of France, which makes it a popular tourist destination. Since it is also known for its abundant game, the cuisine is mostly rustic—stews, roasts and dishes that feature game are popular throughout the region. However, I couldn't find any of those recipes, even though I actually have some wild boar in my freezer. So I had to settle on what I could find, which was at least interesting and different although probably not the best of what Champagne-Ardenne has to offer.

Are you ready? Here it is:

Chapon de fête au Champagne, which Google Translator rather amusingly translated as "a
capon party with champagne." I think a more accurate translation is probably "Celebration Capon with Champagne." Here's the recipe:

  • 1 3 1/2 lb capon
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 1 1/4 cups champagne
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Sounds pretty simple, huh? Except for the part where you're wondering what the hell a "capon" is.

Now, I've seen that word many times, most notably in this cool cookbook I have called Pleyn Delit, which features medieval era recipes copied from the original text (with handy translations included). Because of this book, I thought "capon" was just an old word for chicken which had fallen out of popular use over the centuries. So when I bookmarked this recipe, I was planning to make a chicken. It was only a week or so before I actually cooked the meal that it occurred to me I probably ought to make sure a capon was really just a chicken.

As it turns out, it is and it isn't. A capon is actually a castrated rooster. Because the castration is done at a very young age, capons mature without the usual hormones, so they are bigger, less aggressive, less active and therefore different in taste to an ordinary chicken. The meat of a capon is said to be more flavorful, moist and tender, which makes them ideal for a "celebration."

So now I had to find a capon, or do some more research, and I wasn't about to do that. Fortunately we were headed down to Sacramento for some errands that weekend, so I picked up a capon at Corti Brothers (oh how I love Corti Brothers, which is where I also got my kangaroo steaks).

Now, Martin hasn't actually read my blog in a few weeks so hopefully he won't find out how much I actually spent on said capon. I'm not going to give you the number, but let me just say that it was about six times as much as I would generally spend on a chicken.

Anyway, the original French language version of this recipe suggests serving the dish with Pommes Salardaises, which is what I did. Here's the recipe:

  • 2 lb Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/4 cup duck fat
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Of course, this meant I also had to find duck fat somewhere. I didn't really want to buy a whole duck and render it or anything, so I bought it from .

Finally, I wanted to do a dessert. Here's the one I settled on:

Gâteau Mollet

  • 2 tbsp yeast (yes, that's a lot of yeast)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup + 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • Chocolate mousse (for serving)
A couple of notes: You need a bundt pan or some other variation of a cake mold to make this recipe. Also, I did make my own chocolate mousse, but I'm not going to reprint that recipe here, because it wasn't from Champagne-Ardenne. It was from Alton Brown.

The cake takes the most time, so I'll start there.

Now this is not a sweet cake. It is really more like a glorified croissant,  which is why it needs the chocolate mousse to be an actual dessert. Here's how it's made:

First mix the yeast with the sugar, salt and water. Stir to dissolve. Now add 2 tbsp of the flour and mix well, then let stand for 30 minutes.

Yes, I thought this was a bit odd. But as you've already guessed, this isn't how I actually made this bread. I just put everything in my bread machine because, you know, kneading is for chumps.

Anyway if you're not using a bread machine, put the flour into a large bowl and make a hole in the middle. Break the eggs and pour them one at a time into the hole. Puncture the yolks, then add the yeast. Mix until smooth, then add the butter and continue mixing until you have a dough. Place in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for two hours.

Now butter your bundt pan. Punch down the dough and press it into the pan. Cover it with a damp cloth and let it rise for another 30 minutes, or until it almost reaches the top of the pan (this took more like 90 minutes for me).

Preheat your oven to 445 degrees (I know that's a weird number, but remember that I'm translating from celcius). Remove the cloth and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until it starts to become a beautiful golden color. Serve warm with chocolate mousse.

Now on to the capon.

First preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Season the bird all over with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, put 1/4 cup of the butter in the pan you'll be using to cook your capon and stick it in the oven until it melts. Then take it out and put the capon in the pan, turning to coat completely with the butter.

Now make your oven even hotter (430 degrees). Put your capon in the oven and cook for one hour. Note: for me one hour at 430 degrees was too long. I used a meat thermometer, and turned the temperature down to 350 degrees after the meat reached a temperature of about 100. My instincts told me that a whole hour at 430 degrees was too long.

Meanwhile mix the rest of the butter with the flour. When the capon is ready, remove it from the oven and pour the juices into another pan, scraping the bottom of the original pan to get all the browned bits. Add the champagne to the juices and bring to a boil.

When the gravy has reduced a little, add the butter/flour mixture and stir. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes or until the sauce thickens (it won't be really thick).

Finally, here's how you do the potatoes:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Now melt the duck fat in an oven-proof skillet and cook the potatoes until they are nicely browned on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or so, checking to make sure they don't over-brown (some of mine did).

Now return to the stove and add the parsley and garlic. Stir for two or three minutes until the garlic softens.

So was it worth paying six times as much for the capon?

Well, now I can say I ate a capon. That's worth something, isn't it? The flavor was definitely richer than the average chicken. Strangely, though, my capon wasn't as tender as the descriptions of capon led me to believe it would be. In fact it was a little tougher than most of the chickens I've eaten. It was juicy, though, so it wasn't overcooked. So I can't really put my finger on why it wasn't exactly like it was supposed to be, but the toughness of the meat didn't make it unpleasant. It was good, and I really liked the champagne-based gravy, too. And of course my kids gobbled it up, because to them it was just a chicken.

So the answer to your question is, yes, you could probably just do this recipe with a chicken.

The potatoes were especially popular with Henry, who for some reason still doesn't know that a potato is not called a "tomato." He ate every leftover "tomato" from everyone's plate, and his squeal of delight at discovering a lone "tomato" that was still in the pan in the kitchen was like that of a child who just discovered a mountain of presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Yes, the potatoes were good. But let's face it, pretty much anything cooked up in fat of any kind is going to be good, and duck fat is particularly flavorful.

As for the cake, Martin and I liked it more than the kids did. It wasn't sweet enough for their overly-Americanized notions of the ideal dessert. They mainly just focused on the chocolate mousse. It was absolutely beautiful in looks, but in flavor it really was just a glorified croissant. Buttery. Very, very buttery.

So hopefully by the time I get to our next French province (which won't actually be until Gascony and the Basque Country, way down in the G's), I'll have a few cookbooks on my shelf that will give me more direction. Until then, I'll just keep moving down that alphabet.

Next week: Chile

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Recipes from Chad

Just before labor day weekend, my kids started coming down with these weird fevers. They would burn hot for a couple of days, and then they'd be fine. They never complained of any other symptoms--no headaches, no sore throats, no runny noses--just this weird fever.

Well, as it turns out, this little kid-friendly fever is actually an adult-hating super-virus in disguise. It used my kids to infiltrate my home and lull me into a false sense of security (a couple of days of fever, I can handle that! I have Tylenol!). Because when I came down with it, it was no day or two of fever. Oh no. I feel like someone turned my throat inside out, beat on it with a wooden hammer, stuffed it back in and then ran over me with a truck. And I've felt like that for six days.

Just to put it in perspective, I've had two c-sections and neither one of them clobbered me the way this virus did.

Now I'm sitting here wondering if I can even manage to write anything this week. So just a fair warning: I'm going to give you the rundown on Chad, but I'm not planning on being charming or anything. I may not even manage to be entertaining.

Chad. Yes, another African nation. Since this is my sixth African country in nine weeks, I'll bet it will come as no surprise to hear that I'm a little weary of African food--and that's not because it isn't good, it's because it's so hard to track down recipes from sub-Saharan Africa.

Chad is another one of those right-in-the-middle-of-Africa countries. In fact it is bordered by our last African country, The Central African Republic. Like so many other nations in this region, Chad's story is not an uplifting one. The country is plagued by violence and political upset, which includes attempted coups and outright battles between Chadian rebels and the forces of Chadian President Idriss Déby. The country is not only poor, it also suffers under a corrupt government. Almost everyone who lives there lives in poverty, and the primary occupation is subsistence farming or herding.

Like other poor nations, the Chadian diet is limited. Fish is abundant in Lake Chad, so people living in the northern part of the country include a lot of perch, tilapia, eel and carp in their diets. In the south, people have greater access to fruits and spices.

So one of the first recipes I chose was a simple Broiled Fish. And by simple I mean that it really doesn't have anything in it that you wouldn't see in an American cookbook. The recipe came from a website called Virtual Chad. Here it is:

  • 1 lb fish (tilapia is more authentic, but I used snapper)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 5 tbsp oil
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced
  • salt, pepper, and chilli powder to taste
For a side dish, I chose this recipe for Chad Salad, which came from The Fair Trade Cookbook:

  • 3/4 cup long grain brown rice
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp honey
Note: most of the ingredients in the original recipe included the words "fair trade," (as in "fair trade bananas") which means products that are obtained fairly and respectfully from growers worldwide. I'm not actually sure how you're supposed to determine which products are "fair trade," unless you exclusively shop at stores like Whole Foods and our local Briar Patch Co-op. But I wanted to make sure I mentioned it out of respect for the recipe's source.

I also had a dessert planned, but, uh, that didn't happen.

So let's do the salad first, since that has to be chilled before serving.

First cook the brown rice. I just boiled mine on the stove for 45 minutes, then drained and rinsed it. Now mix the oil with the lemon juice, zest, spices and honey.

Mix the rice with the cucumber, bananas, raisins and almonds and pour the dressing over.

Stir gently to combine. Cover and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Now for the fish:

Rinse the filets and pat dry. Crush the garlic and rub it into the fish, then dip in flour.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the fish on both sides until golden brown. Add the tomatoes and spices.

Cover the pan and let simmer over low heat for about 40 minutes, adding a little bit of water as necessary.

Looking back on this, how glad I am that it was an easy meal. It's almost like I knew I was going to be sitting here trying to type this post in a feverish haze.

The verdict: It was an enjoyable meal. The fish was not really anything special, like I said--I've made other fish dishes that were really similar and they were just from basic American cookbooks. But it was good--I mean, pan fried fish (I wouldn't really say "broiled," but there you go), what could go wrong?

I really liked the salad in particular; the bananas, raisins and cucumbers made for an unusual combination of flavors.The dressing was tangy and a little bit spicy and the whole dish was definitely worthy of seconds.

And with that, I'm going to sign off. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to sleep for four or five hours to recover from having typed all that.

Health next week, I hope.

Next week: Champagne, France

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Recipes from Central Thailand

I already cook a lot of Thai food. My husband loves pad Thai with chicken satay, and it's a regular meal in our house. I also have a super spicy Thai green curry recipe that I don't make often enough any more, because it would be borderline child abuse to try to make my kids eat it. So it was fun to do this meal from Central Thailand, since I'm already pretty familiar with the food. Also, it was easy. And that's always a plus on a weeknight.

Thailand is a nation in Southeast Asia, which is bordered by Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. Now since two of my very favorite TbS meals were from Cambodia and Burma, it makes perfect sense that they are geographically close to Thailand, which has always been a favorite cuisine of mine.

Like the UK, Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, which means that it has a electoral democracy but also maintains a hereditary monarch as its official head of state. In terms of land mass, Thailand is the 51st largest country in the world; in terms of population it's the 20th largest. Bangkok, Thailand's capital and hub city, is located in Central Thailand, where this week's recipes are from. So it's not really surprising that most of what we in Americans think of as Thai food actually comes from the central region.

For this meal I chose two pretty simple recipes. Actually I chose three, but school is back in session now so to be perfectly honest by the time I was done cooking the main meal I couldn't really be bothered to do the dessert. Here's a link to the recipe, though, in case you want to give it a try (just make sure you let me know how it turned out).

The two recipes I did do came from Here they are:

Kai Phat Khing (Ginger and Chicken Stir Fry)

(Fair warning: you really have to like ginger to enjoy this recipe. You really, really, really have to like ginger.)

  • 1 cup chicken breast meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1/3 cup fresh ginger, julienned
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup dried, soaked wood ear mushrooms
Simple, right? Except for the part where you have to figure out where to find wood ear mushrooms.

Recipe the next:

Thai Fried Rice

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 thinly sliced tomato
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup diced, cooked pork (optional)
  • 3 Thai chili peppers (optional)
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 sprigs chopped cilantro
  • pinch ground white pepper
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
A few notes about this recipe: first, the original version also lists the garlic, onion, eggs, cilantro,  green onion and lime as "optional." I didn't include the "optional" disclaimer with any ingredient except the pork and chili peppers, because I wanted it to be clear how I personally chose to make this recipe. I left the pork and chili peppers as optional because those were the only two I didn't actually use myself, though it didn't seem fair to the recipe's author to leave them out entirely.

Both recipes cook up pretty quickly, but I started with the stir fry. Here's how to do it:

Soak the dried wood ear mushrooms in hot water for five minutes. When they are soft, tear them up into bite sized pieces. You should have about a cup (I had more, because I figured it would be a while before I found another recipe calling for wood ear mushrooms, and I thought I might as well use up the whole package).

Now cut the ginger up into matchstick sized pieces (aka julienne). Halve the onion and then slice so you get wedge shaped pieces of roughly uniform size.

Add the oil to a wok (a pan works fine, too) and heat over a medium to hot flame. Add the garlic and about 1/3 of the ginger and fry for one minute, stirring continuously. The garlic should start to turn golden, but take care that it doesn't burn.

Add the chicken to the pot and stir well so that the oil coats it thoroughly. Then add the onion, the rest of the ginger and the mushrooms.

Stir to incorporate everything and then mix in the sugar and fish sauce. Keep cooking until the onion becomes soft and the chicken is cooked all the way through. Serve hot.

Now for the fried rice:

Heat your wok (or pan) until it is really hot. Add the oil and garlic, stirring continually for a minute or so. Then add the rice and keep stirring until the oil coats each grain of rice.

Stir in the fish sauce and soy sauce, then add the onion and tomato.

Push everything to one side and add a little extra oil to the empty space. Pour in the egg and scramble it.

When the egg is cooked, mix it in with the rice and add the pork and the chili peppers (if using). Then add the green onions and white pepper.

Top the rice with cilantro and garnish with lime wedges and sliced cucumber.

The recipe also says to serve with a chili fish sauce, which you can either buy prepared or make from scratch. I didn't actually include this with my meal because as usual I didn't read the recipe all the way through before serving day, so I didn't know it was supposed to be included. Dang. One of these days, I'll learn. Though probably not by next week.

I love ginger so I thought the kai phat khing was delicious. So did Martin. My kids, of course, picked out all the ginger and mushrooms and just ate the chicken. They are so predictable.

The fried rice was very similar to the Chinese fried rice I usually make, with the exception of the fish sauce and the tomatoes. I'm sure it would have been livelier (and probably more authentic) if I'd actually known in advance that I was supposed to serve it with chili fish sauce. I made mine a bit more robust by adding soy sauce after it was on my plate.

I did find the dry stir fry to be unusual compared to the saucy Thai food I usually get in Thai restaurants, though I can't say for sure if the difference has to do with the Americanization of Thai food here in the states, or if I just happened to choose a drier dish. The recipe was definitely a lot lighter than Thai food usually is, and I can't say that was a bad thing.

Next week: Chad. Africa. Again.

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

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