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, August 29, 2013

Recipes from Georgia

Hey guess what? This is Travel by Stove's 100th meal! So that must mean I've made a lot of progress down the alphabet huh? No! As you know, I am still only on the G's, which puts me less than a third of the way through my list. Dang.

I'm not complaining though, I still love doing this every week and am not sure what I'll do with my time once I finally reach Zimbabwe. The states, I guess.

Anyway this week we're in Georgia! Which is cool mostly because it isn't Africa, which I've been doing a lot of this year. Georgia is in fact quite a long way from Africa--it is located almost precisely between eastern Europe and Asia and is bordered by the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Georgia was once a part of the Soviet Union, in fact the infamous Joseph Stalin himself was an ethnic Georgian.

Of course I've actually kind of sort of already done Georgia--Abkhazia, in fact, which was my very first entry. Abkhazia is a disputed territory claimed by Georgia but recognized as independent by Russia, and for some reason Nicaragua and Venezuela, way over there on the other side of the world.

Nutsubidsis Plateau, Georgia. Photo Credit: Henning(i).

Anyway, it wasn't until right this very moment that I learned about the supra, which is Georgia's most interesting culinary tradition. The supra is basically a big drinking and toasting fest, which is always led by a toastmaster called a Tamada. The Tamada's prerequisites include excellent speaking skills and the ability to consume large quantities of alcohol while a  maintaining an appearance of sobriety. Hey, that sounds like fun. Except for the whole four small children and my 17-year-old niece being present at the table thing, of course. So I guess I couldn't have done it anyway even though it would have been a cool way to celebrate TBS's 100th meal.

So we did not do a supra but we did have quite a feast, and here's the menu:

  • 1 1/2 lbs sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cayene pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
Khachapuri (Georgian Cheese Bread)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 cup mozarrela, grated*
  • 1egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
* Georgian suluguni cheese is traditional, but good luck finding that Smile

Kartopili Nigvzit (Potatoes with Walnuts) 

  • 1 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 8ths
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 generous cup of shelled walnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely-chopped mixed herbs (cilantro, parsley and dill)
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
Atami (Peaches)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • Peach jam
  • Syrup
  • 6 tbsp white grape juice
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • Red sugar sprinkles
Let's do the super-yummy cheese bread first:

First mix 1/3 cup of the flour with the oil. Add the yogurt, mixing until well blended. Now add another 1/3 cup of flour.

Sift the cornstarch together with the baking soda and salt and add that to the flour mixture. Now gradually add the rest of the flour, stopping when you have a soft dough.

Dust your dough with a little bit of flour and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Let rest at room temperature for about an hour.

Meanwhile, soak your feta cheese in water for 10 minutes, then drain and crumble into a bowl with the mozzarella and egg. Mush it all together and then shape into two lovely, delicious-looking cheese balls that you could just gobble right up if it wasn't for that stupid raw egg. Set aside.

Now divide your dough into two balls and place on a floured surface. Flatten each ball into a 10-inch circle.

Now put one cheese ball in the center of each dough circle and flatten a little until each one is about five inches diameter.

Pull up the edges so the dough completely encloses the cheese. Pleat the edges for a tight fit and then shape so each bread is about a 7-inch circle.

Heat a little bit of butter in a skillet and swirl around to completely coat. Reduce heat to low, then put the bread in the skillet seam side up and cover the pan. Cook for 12 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes to prevent burning. Now remove the cover and flip the bread over. Cook for another 12 minutes or until you get a nice, deep golden color. Lightly brush with melted butter and let stand for five minutes or so before serving. Cut into slices. Yummy, cheesy slices.

Now for the Shashlik:

Salt the beef cubes and set aside. Now put all the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl, mixing well, and pour over the beef. Let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Heat your grill (I actually just used my broiler) and cook on both sides to the desired doneness (medium rare of course!) Take the skewers off the grill and brush on a little bit of pomegranate molasses just before serving.

Meanwhile, make the potatoes:

First boil them in salted water until they are easily pierced with a fork. In a separate pan, sauté the onion in melted butter until translucent.

Put the walnuts in a food processor and chop them up with the garlic and some salt and pepper. Add the herbs and the vinegar, then the onion. Toss the potatoes with the walnut mixture (they should break up a little) and garnish with parsley. The traditional way to serve these is at room temperature, like a potato salad, but I served mine a bit warmer than that.

Finally, the peaches.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 custard cups (I just used a muffin tin).

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and salt. Now add the flour blend to the butter, alternating with the milk and mixing well.

In yet another bowl beat the egg whites, then fold gently into the batter.

Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into each greased cup and then bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine of course took much longer because my oven is from another universe.

Immediately turn your cakes out onto a wire rack. If you want them to be super-pretty, trim them down with a knife so each one has a flat surface (I couldn't be bothered).

Spread a thin layer of peach jam on the flat surface of each cake, and press two of the cakes together, peach side facing.

Now make the syrup by putting the grape juice and sugar in a small pan and simmering for five minutes or until thickened. Brush the syrup over each cake, then sprinkle with red sugar crystals.

So here's what we thought: Martin was underwhelmed. Now, looking back, Martin seems to be nearly always underwhelmed by these meals. Do keep in mind though that we're talking about a guy who hates artichokes and thinks Marmite is the world's best condiment. But I digress.

Imogen, who has exquisite tastes, enjoyed the meal about as much as I did. It was good beef, not overwhelmed by the marinade but still very tasty, and perfectly cooked if I do say so myself. The bread was super-yummy, as you've already figured out. It was much like an Indian naan bread stuffed with cheese. Seriously, how could you go wrong with that?

Imogen's favorite part of the meal was the potatoes, which were really tasty though they looked absolutely frightening. And the peaches were delicious—all of us devoured them except for Martin who did finish his but declared afterwards that they were "nothing special." Hmm maybe I'm going to stop quoting him on my blog, because it kind of makes me look like a mediocre cook.

So yay! That's meal number 100. On to the next 100!

Next week: Germany

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Recipes from the Gaza Strip

I don't actually know how to dive back into my old routine now that our visitor (my niece Imogen from the UK) is gone … we had such a great time with her though I think we're all about dead from all the fun and activity. And now here I am all alone in a very quiet house actually wishing for some chaos. Imagine that!

Anyway I have to write this post in a bit of a hurry, since Imogen only just left for the airport and I have to pick up the kids in less than two hours. So yeah, there won't be much of a break from all of that chaos.

This week we're on the Gaza Strip, which if you've been permanently living on Antarctica or Bouvet Island you've probably never heard of. If you live in any part of the populated universe, however, you know that the Gaza Strip is that disputed territory between Egypt and Israel that is currently governed by Hamas, a Palestinian faction. At just 141 square miles the Gaza Strip is actually quite small, but that hasn't stopped Israel and Palestine from fighting in, around and about it for the last half-century or so. I am actually going to spare you from those particular details since if you don't already have an inkling of what's going on there you really need to turn on the news once in a while.

The sad truth  (well, one of many) about this part of the world is that when it comes to the Gaza Strip no one seems to want to talk about anything but the Israel/Palestine conflict. I find vague references to some of the other things the Gaza Strip has going for it (a university, some historical sites, a beach that is a big surfing destination and an amusement park), but most sources just want to talk about war and politics.

I, on the other hand, want to talk about the food so I'll just get right into that instead.

Food on the Gaza Strip is, as you might imagine, similar to the food you might find in Egypt, with which it shares a border. The region's location along the Mediterranean coast means that seafood is also an important part of its traditional cuisine, although I did not personally choose any fish dishes for my meal. Here's what I did choose:

Chicken Fatteh
  • 1 small chicken
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 pita bread
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice*
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
* The original recipe called for "sour yogurt." After much Googling I learned that you can approximate this by adding lemon juice to Greek yogurt.

  • 2 tomatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 2 cucumbers, cut into small cubes
  • 2 spring onions, finely diced
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • 1 Radish, cut into small cubes
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Green mint, chopped
  • 1 loaf of pita bread
  • Dressing: Lemon, salt, and olive oil

Saj Bread

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (about 110 to 115°)
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Oil for coating the dough
(All of these recipes come from a website called

The bread is always a good place to start, since it takes some time to put together. Here's how:

Mix the yeast with 1/4 cup of the water and the sugar. Let stand until frothy. Now measure out 2  1/2 cups of flour and sift together with the salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the yeast and the rest of the water.

Now mix the ingredients together, slowly adding the rest of the flour (or as much as you need to make a smooth dough). Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until no longer sticky.

Rub some oil around the inside of a large bowl and transfer the dough into that bowl. Turn the dough ball until it is completely coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.

Punch down then knead again for a few minutes. Divide the dough into balls that are about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand or a rolling pin. Brush lightly with olive oil.

Now, you are supposed to cook this bread on a rounded surface like you would get if you flipped a wok over. I just baked mine in my regular non-stick skillet because I didn't really have anything I could use to improvise. However you choose to do it, cook on both sides until you get a golden crust.

The original recipe described this bread as cooking in "sheets," which implies that they're supposed to be quite thin, like a tortilla. Mine were much thicker than that and really just reminded me of Indian naan bread. Either way I'm sure they are very good. Now on to the chicken.

Season the chicken all over with the cardamom, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Place the peeled onion in the cavity.

OK, the original recipe said to cook this chicken in an oven bag with a cup of water. I simply roasted mine, since I suspect that oven bags weren't used in the traditional version of this recipe anyway.

Roast the chicken in a  375 degree oven until an internal thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh reads 175 degrees (ideally you would want the breast to also be 165 degrees, though it's tricky to get the temp right in both places). Remove from the oven and reserve the pan juices.

Meanwhile, cut your pita bread up into small pieces and fry them in a little bit of oil. Cook the rice and drain.

Line a serving dish with the bread pieces and pour in the pan juices.

 Add one of the garlic cloves and about a tablespoon of the rice. Now spread the rest of the rice evenly over the bread. In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt with the lemon juice and the rest of the garlic. Spread that over the rice.

Now if you're feeling ambitious, remove the bones from the chicken and place the pieces on the top of the dish. If you're feeling lazy like I was, simply cut the chicken up into fully-boned pieces and put that on top of the rice. Serve.

While the chicken is cooking, make the fattoush:

Mix the vegetables together with the lettuce, parsley and mint.

Meanwhile, cut the bread into small pieces and fry in a little bit of oil until golden.

Now mix the lemon juice with the salt and olive oil. Just before serving, add the bread to the vegetables and dress with the lemon juice mixture. Ta da!

I actually loved this meal, probably more than Martin did. The chicken was very raw-garlicky, which pretty quickly came back to haunt me but certainly was yummy. I liked the little fried pita bits in both the chicken and the salad, which I like to think of as Gaza's answer to the crouton. The bread was also very tasty and satisfying and went really nicely with the tart yogurt in the chicken dish. And the salad was a nice refreshing side, though I do think that particular dish is a Ramadan meal (served during the month of fasting) and probably wouldn't have ordinarily been served with the chicken. I liked the combo, though, since it stopped the meal from being overly heavy.

Anyway that's Gaza. Good food, not too difficult to prepare … just the way I like it!

Next week: Georgia

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Recipes from Gascony and the Basque Country, France

A couple of years ago we took the whole family on a road trip from California to Colorado. I won't say a whole lot about that, except that it was about like you might imagine an eight state road trip might be with four small children and one extremely stressed-out Englishman.

Anyway one of our first stops was Elko Nevada, known for its Basque restaurants and not much else. I'm not going to name the restaurant we chose, because short of that really bad Ethiopian place in San Jose it was quite possibly the. worst. food. ever. I remember walking into the place and seeing this guy sitting there surrounded by enormous plates of food, and thinking to myself "Oh, look, a food critic." Well guess what, he was just a guy who placed one regular order. Because everyone who eats at that place gets surrounded by enormous plates of completely inedible food. I guess huge portions is their chef's way of compensating for the total lack of quality.

Amongst those culinary treasures placed before me was a heaping plate of spaghetti,which I really just can't imagine hailed from the Basque region of France/Spain. Anyway you know that canned spaghetti you used to eat as a kid (or maybe you had better tastes than that, even then)? I'm pretty sure this was canned spaghetti. Mushy, totally overcooked noodles and Ragu sauce. There was also a plate of vegetables that was just like Mom used to make (she boiled the hell out of those veggies until they became a pile of nondescript gray fibers). Canned baked beans. Generic French fries and a mediocre steak.

So that was my one and only experience with Basque food, up until this entry. Though even then I was not dumb enough to think that that experience might be similar to what I would get if I was in, you know, the actual Basque Country.

This is not the meal we had in Elko. It's much too small. And it didn't come out of a can.
OK, moving on. The French Basque Country is also known as the Northern Basque Country. It is lumped in here with Gascony because historically the two areas were mostly undifferentiated from each other, and the food in both places is somewhat similar (or so I'm told).

This map just shows the Basque Country, where our menu is from.

One of the coolest things about the Basque Country is its language, called "Euskara." What makes this language so interesting is that it is isolated, and not really similar to any other known language—not even French or Spanish, though the Basque Country is located in both nations. There are some very minor similarities to the Georgian language, which suggests that the original inhabitants of this region may have migrated from the Caucasus Mountains, but no one really knows for sure.

Navarrenx, Basque Country, France. Photo Credit: Nikonmania.
Anyway while researching this entry I actually found a few Gascon recipes, but most of them included foie gras as an ingredient. Now I'll confess that I've always kind of wanted to try foie gras, but you know, I'm not going to. So I went with a completely Basque menu and didn't pick anything from Gascony. Here it is:

Basque Chicken
(from Cuisine-France)
  • One 4 lb chicken
  • 6 oz Bayonne ham (prosciutto is an acceptable substitute)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes, crushed
  • 5 green bell peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 onions
  • Salt and pepper
Zopako (Basque Soup Bread)
(from The Guardian)
  • 1 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 4 cups all-flour, plus extra for shaping
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 2 tsp fine salt
Gâteau Basque
(from Easy French Food)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (50 or so)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12-oz jar black cherry preserves*
* I couldn't find black cherry jam at the grocery store, so I ordered mine. I think you could use a red cherry jam instead and still have a good though not 100% authentic cake.

So we have to start with the bread (yes I know it's soup bread, and I didn't make any soup, but it looked yummy in the photos), because it's one of those "do the day before" recipes. Can you guess whether or not I did it the day before? Nope! So I don't think I can really say I've made zopako, because I'm pretty sure the recipe actually depends on this step. Maybe I'll make it again and serve it with the Chicken Yassa from last week,which I also got wrong.

So here's the proper way to do it: mix the water with the yeast (yes, it's a very small amount of yeast, but it is the correct amount), then add the all-purpose flour, the spelt flour and the salt. Knead until you get a firm dough, then put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for 12 hours.

Now, if I had to guess (and that's exactly what I'm doing, guessing) I would say that sitting out overnight helps give the bread a slightly sour flavor. That is also the purpose of the very small amount of yeast—it keeps the dough from getting over-inflated after sitting out for so long. Now, because I didn't let my dough sit out overnight I used more yeast (about two teaspoons). But that's not the right way to do it.

Now once the dough has risen, shape it into a long loaf and place it on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes, then dust with flour and use a rolling pin to press down hard in the center. You'll end up with two loaves joined by a thin bit in the middle.

I halved my recipe, so I only made one loaf.

Let rise for 30 minutes more, then put a small oven-safe dish full of water on the bottom shelf of your oven. Now put the bread in and bake at 465 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 390 degrees and continue to bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until you get a nice golden color (I used an egg wash on mine, again not in the directions but I figured I was already screwing it up anyway).

Now on to the cake:

Mix the flour with the butter, sugar, egg, two of the egg yolks, vanilla, baking powder and salt (it's easiest if you use your fingers). Keep mixing until you get a dough.

Now turn out onto a floured surface and continue to knead until everything is really well-incorporated. Divide into two parts—the first one should be about twice the size of the second.

Wrap the dough balls up in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Get out a 9-inch cake pan and lightly butter it. Put the large dough ball into the pan and press down so it is evenly distributed throughout the bottom of the pan. There should be a little bit of dough coming up the sides of the pan. Now spread the jam out over the dough.

Why does this photo look like it belongs in the opening credits of Dexter?

Put the smaller dough ball on a floured surface and roll it into a pan-sized circle. This gets a little tricky because this dough tends to fall apart when you try to lift it. I ended up putting mine into the pan in pieces, but it smoothed out when I brushed on the egg wash, which is the next step (mix the remaining egg yolk with 1 tbsp water and brush over the dough).

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the top is set and starting to turn a golden color. Remove from the oven and cool.

Now here it says to let sit for one day before eating. Oh, please. You will not be able to let this cake sit for one day.

Finally the main course:

Cut up the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Put half of the olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Brown the chicken on all sides, then cover and cook over medium for 15 minutes.

Peel and seed the bell peppers. Peel them?? Seriously? If you've ever tried to peel a bell pepper that hasn't been roasted first, you will end up without very much pepper left over. I didn't peel mine. I suppose you could try blanching them like a tomato to see if that helps, but honestly I have never heard of peeling a bell pepper that you're just going to cook in a pot, so I didn't bother. 

Cut the peppers into large strips and put in the pot with the chicken. Add the prosciutto and garlic. Cook for an additional 20 minutes.

Now peel and seed your tomatoes (blanch them first to make it easier). Heat the rest of the olive oil in another skillet and add the onions. Cook for 15 minutes, then add the tomatoes. Keep cooking for another 15 minutes. Mix the chicken with the onion/tomato mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

So did we enjoy this more than the food we had at that Elko restaurant? Well, let me just say that I would probably enjoy a can of dog food more than the food we had at that Elko restaurant. But it was a lot better than that. Of course it didn't have to be very good at all to be a lot better than that.
The chicken was a little bland, I thought. But based on the ingredients I really wasn't terribly surprised by that. The bread was also a little bland, because I forgot to put salt in it. Sigh.

But the cake … I never use the term "OMG" (except for that other time), but OMG. This cake was mind-blowingly yummy. This cake is something I would ask for on my birthday. It was so delicious that I almost gave it away for fear that I couldn't be left alone with it. Fortunately my kids devoured all the leftovers. Oh my god, it was tasty. In fact this might even be my favorite Travel by Stove recipe so far this year. If you only make one thing from the Basque Country, make this cake. Seriously.

Now one more thing, loyal readers (all 10 or so of you), we have a visitor from England here for the next couple of weeks. So although I will still be cooking I don't know how much I will be able to post, because we have over-scheduled the hell out of our poor visitor.

Anyway I may post next week, but maybe not. If not, I'll see you when I come up for air.

Next time: The Gaza Strip.

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Recipes from The Gambia

I hate to admit that I generally don't love food from Sub-Saharan Africa. I mean, it's fine. But like many Americans I've been raised on flavorful food with a lot of spices, and food from Sub-Saharan Africa tends to be a little on the bland side. I know this is because the people in that part of the world don't tend to have the kind of money you need to buy spices. Have you ever tried to buy more than one different spice at Safeway? Even in America the cost of that stuff will practically bankrupt you. So the food tends to be bland because it's just based on simple, local ingredients that can be grown or harvested.

So I was actually really pleasantly surprised by this week's main course, though I would certainly make some changes. Because it was actually too flavorful, if you can believe that.

Anyway let's talk about The Gambia, which as you already know is in Sub-Saharan Africa. On the map, it looks tiny. I couldn't even find it on my globe—I had to look it up on Wikipedia. That's because it is actually tiny--at just over 4,000 square miles it's only roughly twice the size of the city of Anchorage, Alaska. Of course, Anchorage only has a population of about 300,000 people, while The Gambia has crammed 1,800,000 people into it's tiny little self, which is basically just the two opposite banks of the Gambia river.

Historically, The Gambia was best known for its bustling slave trade. It is estimated that during the 300 years that the transatlantic slave trade was in operation, as many as 3 million slaves were exported from the Gambian region. It may surprise you to hear that most of these slaves were sold to Europeans by other Africans—they were either prisoners of war, people who could not pay their debts or were just kidnapped by slave traders. So like so many of these little places in Africa, it has a dark history.

North Bank, The Gambia. Photo Credit: Flickr User .Kikaytete.QNK

Today, The Gambia has moved past all that and has a liberal, market-based economy. Most of its income comes from the export of peanuts, re-exports, and a healthy tourism industry. The tourism industry might at least partially explain why its food has so much flavor (demanding tourists with lots of cash), but of course that is just my totally ignorant, based on nothing but a hunch guess.

Anyway here are the two recipes I chose for this week's meal:

Chicken Yassa
(from the African Culture Portal)
  • 8 to 10 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 6 chicken-bouillon cubes, crushed (I used Maggi cubes)
  • 24 small garlic cloves, mashed
  • 6 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 12 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 3-4 tsp red pepper (ground or flakes)
  • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
And on the side:

Fish Jollof Rice
(from Access Gambia)
  • 2 lbs fresh fish
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 small cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups rice
OK, let's make the chicken:

The day before meal day, put the chicken breasts in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients (except the onions) together.

 Now that's a whole lotta spices.
Pour about half the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate overnight, turning once. Reserve the remainder of the marinade.

Broil the chicken in your oven, turning once. When you have a nice, brown color on both sides and an internal thermometer reads 165, remove the chicken (note: I baked mine first to about 145, then I finished it under the broiler).

Now here's the part I missed, because the recipe's author didn't include onions on the ingredients list:

Saute the onions in a small amount of oil until golden. Meanwhile, heat the reserved marinade over a low flame.

Serve the chicken with the onions on top, and the marinade on the side.

This is the sans-onion version of this recipe.
Now for the rice:

Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the fish until golden on both sides. Remove the fish and set aside.

In the same pot, add the onions, tomato and tomato paste. Continue to cook until the onions start to turn brown. 

Now add the water and bring to a boil, then add the cabbage, carrots, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Now strain the vegetables from the broth and set aside. Return the broth to the pan and add the rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed (note: I needed to add additional water).

Meanwhile, break the fish into pieces and mix in with the vegetables. Heat over a medium flame until hot. Serve alongside the rice.

So as I already mentioned, I missed the part about the onions, so I don't know if this really counts as Yassa Chicken. There are many, many different takes on this recipe and they are all vastly different, but they all seem to include onions. So I might have to make it again at some point. But here's what we thought of it, sans-onion.

It was salty. Super, super salty. Which I kind of expected, because chicken bouillon is pretty salty all by itself, plus there was extra salt in the marinade in addition to all that bouillon. So  if I made it again, I would probably leave out the extra salt and maybe even a bouillon cube or two.

Other than that, I thought it was really tasty. It reminded me of Jamaican jerk chicken, only without the heat. Martin actually didn't think it was too salty, but he tends to be less sensitive to such things than me. My kids certainly didn't think it was too salty, but we're talking about people who will actually pour salt into their mouths right out of the shaker. So evidently, nothing is too salty for them.

I liked the Jollof rice a lot, though it wasn't nearly as flavorful as the chicken. Of course that also meant that it nicely balanced the chicken, so it was a welcome side dish.

Overall, this was nice though I would certainly make a few changes. I might actually try one of those other versions of Yassa Chicken, just to have something to compare it to.

Next week: Gascony and The Basque Country, France

For printable versions of this week's recipes:

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