Cooking with cassareep: Guyanese pepperpot

Every day’s a school day, especially when you’re cooking dishes from other countries. Ever heard of cassareep? We hadn’t either, until we learnt that an authentic pepperpot (the national dish of Guyana) can’t be made without it, and that it is a syrup made from cassava.

Thinking we had no chance of finding this niche Guyanese ingredient in England, we started investigating what we could use as a substitute, but then Miranda happened to walk past a Caribbean grocery store and ventured inside to see whether they had any. It took a little while to locate as she didn’t know what she was looking for, but then she found some, and once again we were thankful that we live in such a multicultural town. Continue reading

Beef and beans: Venezuelan pabellón criollo

The honest truth? We made this dish so long ago we can’t really remember how we went about it. We also think we did it wrong. Here’s the story… Continue reading

Kind of authentic: Panamanian sancocho

More than just a hat and a canal, Panama has a unique national dish to offer: sancocho. In a way, it’s ‘just’ a chicken stew, but it’s not like one we’ve made before. For one thing, we’d never heard of culantro until we read about this dish. Don’t misread, either: that didn’t say cilantro (American for coriander). Apparently culantro is altogether different whilst not being dissimilar – in fact, it’s known as ‘cilantro’s pungent cousin’. It’s also what gives sancocho its distinct flavour and green hue. Unfortunately, it’s not something we were able to get hold of, so we had to use cilantro/coriander anyway. If you do make this substitute, use more cilantro than you would culantro.

Despite it being the national dish of Panama, if you do a Google search for ‘sancocho recipe’ the first page of results is made up on recipes from Colombia, Dominica and Puerto Rico, so we moved on to page two and chose the first recipe that actually mentioned Panama, which was on 196 Flavors. Continue reading

Family feast: Honduran plato tipico

When we first looked up the national dish of Honduras, we found the plato tipico: a massive plate of food, including three different types of barbecued meat. Regular readers of this blog will recognise that this was right up Ash’s alley (ok, and Miranda’s too), so we had to make it. However, unlike our multi-stage dish from El Salvador, which we put together over three days, this plato tipico had multiple elements that all had to be ready at the same time, with some being cooked in the kitchen and some outside on the barbecue. How could we possibly pull this together with a baby hanging around?

Luckily for us, this dish coincided with a visit from Baby Mash’s grandma and auntie, who were more than happy to take him off our hands for a couple of hours while we cooked.

In the end, we could only really find one recipe for Honduran plato tipico, so goodness knows if it’s even a real thing. We’ve since learned that it’s ubiquitous in Colombia, so maybe we haven’t made something Honduran after all. But we were too far gone by the time we realised that… so here it is. Continue reading

Three day relay: El Salvadoran pupusas

Ok, we know we said we were going to choose simple recipes now that having a baby has made our lives a whole lot more complicated. We meant it at the time, we really did. Then El Salvador and its national dish of pupusas, and a desire to ‘do it right’, hit us simultaneously.

A pupusa is a stuffed cornmeal flatbread, usually served with curtido (a sort of pickled cabbage slaw). We chose a recipe that offered us the chance to cook pupusas the way Curly and his abuelita (granny) would have done. We don’t know who Curly and his grandmother are, but we do know that the stuffing combo of cheese, chicharrón (pork) and refried beans sounded good to us. So, in an epic three-day, tag-teaming relay, we made curtido, chicharrón and pupusa dough from scratch. Oh, and we figured we might as well make our own El Salvador-style refried beans, too. How? Read on… Continue reading

More chicken and rice – this time with seeds: Guatemalan pepián

Firstly, for those following the turmeric woes that accompanied our Christmas Islander dish, we’re happy to report that Vanish is capable of miracles and both items of potentially ruined clothing were saved. Hurrah! #notanad

But now for our latest meal: Guatemalan pepián. Yet another incarnation of chicken and rice, this dish is a typical street food from Guatemala. Having made it, our opinion is that we wouldn’t want to be in a street stall faffing around with all the necessary components, so all power to the Guatemalans.

This dish was also a blast from the past for Miranda, due to the inclusion of a vegetable known as guisquil, chayote, chow chow, mirliton squash or (as is the case in Australia) choko. Of course the Australian name ends with an o! It’s native to Central America and rarely seen in the UK, but widely grown in Australia and NZ. Miranda remembers a childhood of eating them after they’d been boiled to oblivion and sprinkled with black pepper. Fortunately, our multicultural locale enabled us to get hold of one for the pepián – the recipe for which we found thanks to a feature in the Guardian by Guatemalan Rudy Girón. We weren’t, unfortunately, able to source one of the chillies, so we’ll put the traditional requirements below and discuss our substitutes afterwards. Continue reading

Turmeric and breastfeeding don’t mix: Christmas Islander ayam panggang

If you read our last post, you might recall that we hadn’t yet chosen between Guatemala or Christmas Island for our next culinary journey. Each country’s national dish is a version of chicken, chilli and rice, but Ash decided we should start with Christmas Island’s coconut-heavy ayam panggang, in the spirit of getting it over with. As such, we’ve now made it through our list of ‘catch up’ countries, so the order of our future posts will be more geographically logical.

Christmas Island is a tiny Australian territory in the Indian Ocean with a population of less than 1500. It’s not far from Indonesia and its cuisine is therefore strongly influenced by South East Asian flavours. Once again, we are grateful to Travel by Stove for doing the (considerable) legwork for this recipe so that we, in our perpetual state of sleep deprivation, didn’t have to. Continue reading