An adventure in ingredients: Grenadian oil down

We would recommend having the following before attempting this recipe:
– A small army to feed (or the common sense to scale down the recipe)
– An enormous cooking pot (or the common sense to scale down the recipe)
– Access to a wide range of ingredients

Now that we have that settled…

Oil down is the national dish of the Caribbean island of Grenada (not to be confused with the Spanish city Granada), so named because of the oils released from the coconut milk as it simmers. It is a big stew, packed full of a long list of ingredients, some we’d eaten before and some we hadn’t. We got our recipe for oil down from Becca at Meat Loves Salt, and would suggest reading her post about it for a lot more insight than we can provide and more Caribbean ingredient recommendations (we had to make a few substitutions). What we can offer, however, is the experiences of total novices. Our recipe below, therefore, is based on Becca’s, but also anecdotal. Continue reading

A Bermuda short: Bermudian fish chowder

Before making this dish, we knew two things about Bermuda: shorts and Triangle. We’ve now bumped this up to three things, having added its traditional fish chowder to our repertoire. Unlike the creamy, thick chowders we’re used to, Bermuda’s version has a tomato base and isn’t stodgy at all. It’s also very spicy, thanks to the addition of chilli sauce (more on that in a minute) and is so full of vegetables that ‘fish chowder’ is almost a misnomer. Recipes on the Internet are all pretty similar but we thought The Bermudian seemed a reputable enough source – we just made a few tweaks here and there. Continue reading

Away and home: Canadian (Quebecois) mussel chowder

Leaving the food of Europe behind (for now) and jumping over to the Americas feels like we’ve really made some progress in this cooking journey. We started in Wales and have made our way through most of Europe, Asia and Oceania, discovering so many new dishes (and ingredients) along the way. Now we’re embarking on a whole new region, starting with Canada, which we are excited about – but which also posed a problem.

Many of you will be aware that Canada’s national dish is poutine: fries, cheese curds and gravy. Poutine seemed to experience a bit of a rebirth in London a couple of years ago, probably partially because of the ‘it’s cool to eat really unhealthy food and Instagram it’ age we’re in. (Speaking of which, remember that you can follow us on Instagram @goodfoodonbadplates – with very little unhealthy food, in fact!) We’d never actually tried it though, so the idea of making our own was quite fun… until we realised that we don’t have a deep fryer so wouldn’t be making brilliant fries, didn’t know where we’d get cheese curds from, and probably wouldn’t make gravy worthy of this revered dish. Continue reading

Breaking free from borscht: Russian smoked fish pie

‘Russian food – well, that’s borscht, isn’t it?’

The look on Ash’s face was a mix of horror and dismay. Whilst he’ll eat beetroot if required, he is certainly not in its fan club, and memories of a Russian housemate stinking out the house by boiling beetroot were adding to the feeling of dread. Miranda’s Australian background means she’s more in tune with beetroot and its benefits, but even she wasn’t all that excited about the thought of this particular meal. However, we both had to make our peace with the fact that it’s Russia’s national dish and that’s the challenge we set ourselves when we started this project.

Fortunately for us, we were saved by Diana Henry and her lovely book Roast Figs Sugar Snow, which contains a recipe for Russian smoked fish pie with cream cheese pastry. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, we did say that if we had an appropriate recipe on our bulging shelves, we’d use it – so smoked fish pie it was! We were saved – and more than a little relieved. The book tells us that Russians love pies, so we were happy to play along. 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

South Sea sunshine: Tuvaluan tuna curry

Next on our culinary tour of the Pacific Islands is Tuvalu, which lies halfway between Hawaii and Australia and is made up of three reef islands and six atolls. Its population is only about 10,000, so, unsurprisingly, there weren’t many Tuvaluan websites telling us what to cook!

Like most of these small island nations, Tuvaluan cuisine is centred around ingredients that are locally grown or hunted and therefore easy to acquire. Specifically, most dishes are based on the staples of coconut and fish. Imported ingredients (essentially the remainder of this recipe) are also necessary, however, as so little can actually grow in Tuvalu.

We rejected this recipe at first: we like tuna a lot, but we don’t like messing with it, and hiding it in a curry constituted messing with it. However, as mentioned earlier, our options were limited, which is how we found ourselves making tuna curry last weekend (thanks once again to Global Table Adventure for the recipe). Continue reading

New Caledonian New Year: Smoked salmon with avocado and mango salsa

Merry Christmas and happy 2016, everyone! We hope you enjoyed plenty of good food over the festive season. In the spirit of reflection, WordPress has told us that we blogged recipes from 30 different countries in 2015, and our bookcase has told us that we acquired 12 new cookbooks (we’re a bit scared to count the overall total). Neither is a bad effort, but we’re sure we can do better in the year to come!

Today’s dish comes from the island nation of New Caledonia, which is a French territory in the South Pacific. Technically, we haven’t been there, but at the same time we sort of have. This does make sense. The story is that a few years back, Miranda’s mum and sister went on a cruise of the Pacific, and New Caledonia was one of the stops. We were unable to join them but, undeterred, they took us with them anyway, in the form of a little cardboard cut-out. So that’s why we’ve sort of been to New Caledonia! Unfortunately, our ghost-pale English skin didn’t reap the benefits.

525 Cruise

We actually made this dish a couple of weeks back, just before Christmas. Then, it was a perfect light meal to prepare ourselves for the over-indulgence to come. Now, in January, it would be an equally perfect antidote to said over-indulgence. It’s also really easy, so ideal for the next few days when we’ll all be mournfully thinking ‘I don’t want to go back to work on Monday; I just want to crawl under a duvet and hibernate.’ Finally, it feels very summery, so might go some way towards combatting the aforementioned state of misery. Oh yeah – and it’s full of yummy ingredients! Continue reading