Complicating a lazy dinner: Guamanian chicken kelaguen and red rice

This post is brought to you from the semi-redecorated Mash kitchen. Well, technically it’s brought to you from the computer upstairs, but works continue below undaunted. Fortunately, most of the sanding (and subsequent clouds of dust) has ceased, so we were able to cook this meal from Guam without also ingesting tiny specks of paint and plaster.

591a Redecorating husband compressed

Guam is yet another Pacific Island. Like the Northern Mariana Islands, it is a territory of the USA and is a part of Micronesia (the subregion as opposed to the country). Apparently, some of its key traditional dishes are barbecue, red rice and kelaguen. Much as we would love to have used this as an excuse to extract our BBQ from the shed, putting our kitchen back together was a bigger priority, so we opted for red rice and chicken kelaguen instead. There are a lot of different recipes for kelaguen out there, but we opted for one from From My Impossibly Tiny Kitchen, partly because it also included a red rice recipe, and partly because we didn’t have any chicken in the house and this gave us the option of using a ready-cooked one from the supermarket (hence the ‘lazy dinner’ part. The ‘complicating’ part is because one of kelaguen’s key ingredients is coconut, so we had to make a coconut-free Fussy Husband Version as well as the actual recipe). Continue reading

Short and sweet: Northern Marianan sweet potato salad with grilled chicken

The return to work on Monday mornings inevitably yields the ‘Did you have a good weekend?’ question from colleagues. There’s always the pressure to be dazzlingly exciting, to regale them with stories of a movie-star lifestyle, to give the impression of mysterious soirees and enviable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In essence, the pressure to recount a weekend that was at least as good as, if not better than, the questioner’s.

No matter how hard we might have tried – no matter how many euphemisms or veiled metaphors we might have employed – we simply couldn’t have lived up to these expectations this week. For us, the weekend was spent on Operation Redecorate the Kitchen: a lovely idea in theory. What it meant in practice was that Ash spent Saturday morning traipsing around hardware stores, and Saturday afternoon and half of Sunday in a cloud of dust in the kitchen, created by angle-grinding away the remnants of the ugly polystyrene cornicing that has plagued our walls since we moved in. The other half of Ash’s Sunday was spent balancing acrobatically on a chair in order to apply Polyfilla to the mysterious cracks and crevices that our Edwardian ceiling has (somewhat worryingly) developed over the years, the excitingly spring-like Duck Egg paint still lying untouched on the floor.

Trust us: there’s no way of making that sound sexy. Continue reading

Micro effort required: Micronesian ginger and lime marinade

Today we bring you a recipe from Micronesia. Rather confusingly, Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands such as Marshall Islands and Nauru, countries from which we have already tried recipes. However, also within Micronesia is the Federated States of Micronesia, which is often shortened to Micronesia, yet isn’t the same thing as Micronesia: it’s a country in itself. Confused yet?

Few have heard of the Federated States of Micronesia, yet because its small islands are spread so far across the Western Pacific Ocean, it actually takes up more than 2,600,000 km2. In spite of this, its actual land area is only 702 km2 and population only about 106,000, and recipes are therefore few and far between. The other difficult aspect of searching for a recipe was that, of course, a search for ‘Micronesian recipes’ yields results for actual Micronesia, rather than the Federated States. The recipe for ginger and lime marinade that we’ve (once again) borrowed from Global Table Adventure (we’re so glad that Sasha Martin began this project before we did!) may well be from a nation within the broader Micronesia, but it looked like it would suit us, so in an absence of anything definitely from the Federated States, we thought we’d give it a go. Continue reading

Too good at least: Marshallese macadamia nut pie

A few days ago marked the end of British Pie Week, so this recipe is particularly appropriate, coincidence though that may be. We didn’t eat it during British Pie Week, you see. We actually made it the weekend before, but it was equally appropriate then due to the fact that on the same weekend we watched an excellent production of Sweeney Todd. In this story based on urban legend, the pies are filled with human remains. Fortunately this was not the case in our recipe from the Marshall Islands!

Pies have also been prominent in the media lately due to the controversial decision to award the top prize at the British Pie Awards to… a pasty. This prompted debate over what a pie actually is, with the chairman of the Awards pointing out that the definition of a pie is ‘a filling totally encased in pastry’ whilst pie purists everywhere threatened to boycott next year’s Awards. Miranda’s many years of working in bakeries led her to believe that a pasty is a pasty, a pie must have a pastry lid, and a pie without a lid is a tart. Thus, seemingly by all definitions, the Marshallese recipe we have made is a tart and not a pie at all. Continue reading

Island-style takeaway: Nauruan coconut fish, chips and crunchy pineapple relish

Despite growing up on opposite sides of the world, we both come from countries in which fish and chips is something of a cultural icon. In coastal Australia, fish straight out of the ocean is transported into seaside fish and chip shops, lightly crumbed and fried or grilled, and the chips are enhanced by one of the culinary world’s greatest inventions: chicken salt. And that’s not even mentioning such delicacies as calamari and prawn cutlets, as well as and the ubiquitous Chiko Rolls, potato scallops and dim sims. If you’re a tomato-sauce-with-chips kind of person, you get the unique Australian experience of the squeezy sauce sachet.

561 Squeezy sauce

In cold, gloomy England, on the other hand, wet Friday evenings are traditionally brightened by queuing at the ‘chippy’ to be presented with greasy, thickly-battered fish, chips with salt and odd-tasting malt vinegar and a side of mushy peas (more commonly served with a meat pie in Australia). Curry sauce is a more popular condiment than ketchup. After polishing it all off and feeling slightly sick as a result, grease-filled Englishmen have left the worries of the week behind them and are ready to face the weekend, once they have discarded the old bits of newspaper – now coated in a film of oil – that their dinners came wrapped in.

Can you tell which one of us is writing this blog yet? Continue reading

Surprising Spam: I-Kiribati te bua toro ni baukin

Our six-month wedding anniversary was a couple of weeks ago, and we acknowledged this by having dinner at London’s Archipelago restaurant. Archipelago is renowned for its exotic dishes, describing itself as ‘London’s culinary portal to world cuisine,’ and we enjoyed such unusual delicacies as python, crocodile, kangaroo, alpaca and even mealworms. Everything was fantastic.

557 Anniversary

Afterwards, on learning what we’d eaten, a friend declared that we were ‘most intrepid’ for choosing such exotic dishes – and perhaps we were, as we did try to embrace the Archipelago experience as much as we could. However, only two days later, we felt much more intrepid for deciding to cook I-Kiribati te bua toro ni baukin for dinner. Never have we seen such a bizarre combination of ingredients in one dish – and this is coming from two people who regularly adopt a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ approach when trying to come up with something to eat for dinner. Continue reading