Gluten-Free

Three Eritrean Sauces

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Silsi (Spiced Tomato), Ades (Lentil), and Shiro (Smooth Chickpea)

As a gentleman from Eritrea taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. 

Notes: He served these three vegetarian sauces on sourdough flatbread called injera. He shared this platter with friends who all ate from it with their hands, using ripped pieces of the flatbread to scoop up sauces into delicious bites. If you can't find injera at an Eritrean/Ethiopian market or store near you or don't want to make your own (it takes 3 days to ferment and is quite tricky), serve these sauces as dips or spreads with sourdough toast.

Before you start this recipe you'll want to make the Eritrean spiced butter, and order berbere spice and shiro powder online. Once you have those and the rest of the ingredients, making these sauces is easy. 

Cooking time: 45 min
Makes: 6 servings as a light meal

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp Eritrean spiced butter (omit this for a vegan or lactose-free version)
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup corn or canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp berbere spice
  • 5 large red tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shiro powder 
  • 1 cup pink lentils 
  • 4 pieces injera or a loaf of whole wheat sourdough (or gluten free bread as desired)
  • small fresh green chilis for garnish (optional)

Equipment

  • sheet pan/cookie sheet
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • three medium sauce pots
  • blender or food processor
  • spatula
  • wooden spoon

Instructions

1. In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, saute a finely diced onion in 1/2 cup corn or canola oil for about ten minutes, stirring often, until onion is soft. Put the lid on between stirring. 

2. In another medium sauce pot, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Spread lentils on a sheet pan or tray and sort through them with your fingers, removing any non-lentil debris.

3. Rinse lentils, and add them to the heating water. Bring them to a boil, turn heat to medium-low and and continue to simmer until the lentils have softened somewhat but still have a little firmness to them and hold their shape. 

4. To the pot of frying onions, add 3 Tbsp berbere spice and cook another ten minutes, stirring frequently. 

5. Blend tomatoes in blender or food processor until smooth. Add the blended tomatoes to the frying onions along with 2 Tbsp spiced butter. Simmer for five more minutes, stirring frequently, and adding salt to taste. This is the first sauce, spiced tomato, or silsi.

6. In a third pot (small or medium size), bring 2 cups of water to boil.  

7. Once the lentils are half-way cooked, mix in 1 cup of the spiced tomato sauce and continue cooking on medium low until lentils are soft. Taste for seasoning and add salt as desired to finish. This is the lentil sauced called ades.

8. Once the water in the third pot is hot, stir in 3/4 cup spicy red sauce and continue to heat. Once it comes to a boil, turn it to simmer and whisk in 1/2 cup shiro powder. Heat on medium, stirring intermittently until the sauce becomes thickened, and slightly looser than pudding. Turn off heat.

9. Serve Eritrean sauces (spiced tomato, chickpea, and lentil) on injera or with slices of sourdough. Decorate the edges of the injera with small, fresh green chilis. Have extra injera or bread at the table. 

Colombian Chicken and Corn Soup

Ajiaco

As Adelaida Gaviria from Medellin, Columbia (pronounced MedeGEENE) taught Lindsay Sterling in Bowdoinham, Maine.

Note: Adelaida said this dish (pronounced AH hee AH Ko), originated in Bogota, but has come to be a favorite across much of the country.  
Cooking time: 45 min
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients 

  • 2 bone-in breasts
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 6 large potatoes (she prefers Yukon Gold variety)
  • 2 Tbsp dried guascas, a Columbian herb available at latin markets or online
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 3 ears corn on the cob or frozen corn kernels
  • 3 avocados
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/2 cup cream

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • paring knife
  • peeler 
  • soup pot
  • tongs or slotted spoon
  • shallow dish for cooling chicken
  • immersion blender or mortar and pestle
  • lettuce spinner (ideally)
  • small bowl for serving capers on the table
  • creamer for serving cream at the table
  • soup bowls and spoons for serving

Instructions

1. Cover chicken with 2 inches of water in a large soup pot on high heat. Add 5 cloves sliced garlic, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp black pepper. Once water boils, turn heat down to keep the chicken simmering until it is cooked throughout. Wash hands and any utensils or surfaces that touched raw chicken.

2. While chicken is cooking, peel potatoes, slice them in half, and then into 1/4-inch slices. Wash and chop the cilantro. Put half of it in a small bowl for guests to garnish their soup at the table, and reserve the other half for use in a bit.

3. Once the chicken is cooked (opaque throughout), remove it from broth and put it in a shallow dish to cool. 

4. Use an immersion blender to blend the garlic slices into the broth. If you don't have an immersion blender, scoop out the garlic with a slotted spoon, mash it in a mortar and pestle with a little broth, and whisk that mixture into the broth in the pot. 

5. Add 4 cups of chicken stock to the broth. Rub 2 Tbsp guascas between your hands letting it fall into the pot. Add chopped cilantro. Bring to a simmer and add potato slices.

6. Once chicken is cool enough to the touch, rip it into bite-sized pieces. Discard the bones and add the pulled chicken back to the broth.

7. Once the potato slices are almost cooked, add corn to the soup and simmer another 8 minutes until corn is cooked. Taste the broth and add more salt and pepper if needed.

8. Serve soup in guests' bowls. Top each bowl with 2 quarters of ripe avocado. Invite guests to add capers, cream, and cilantro to their bowls at the table as desired.

 

 

Trinidadian Garbanzo and Potato Curry

As Steve Fortune, from Marabella, Trinidad and Tobago, taught Lindsay Sterling in South Portland, Maine.

Notes: Steve served this 30-minute vegetarian curry with a flaky homemade flatbread, which takes about 2 hours to make. If you don't have time for the flatbread, use store-bought flatbread or serve with rice in a bowl. Steve uses Chief brand curry powder from Trinidad and Tobago: a blend of coriander, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, fennel, chili pepper, and ajwan. The garbanzos and potatoes would taste great with other varieties of curry as well.

Makes: 4 servings
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • about 3 cups water, divided
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder (he used Chief brand from Trinidad and Tobago)
  • 4 large or 8 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4-8 pieces of flatbread

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • vegetable peeler
  • measuring spoons and cups (or just eye-ball it)
  • medium pot
  • mixing spoon

Instructions

1. In a medium pot on medium high heat, saute onions and garlic in 2 Tbsp oil for about 2 minutes. 

2. Mix 2 Tbsp curry powder with 1 cup water, and pour the mixture into the pot with the onions and garlic.

3. Let the mixture cook until most of the water evaporates and you have a slurry of spices and onions. Add the sliced potatoes. Stir to coat the potatoes with the curry and let cook 2 minutes.

4. Add enough water to almost cover the potatoes, and let cook until potatoes are almost done (soft, but not mushy). 

5. Stir in the garbanzo beans. 

6. Serve with flatbread.

Chinese Spicy Peanut Chicken

Gong Bao Ji Ding (Also known as Sichuan Chicken, Szechwan Chicken, Kung Pao, or Kung Po)

As Lily Perilla, from Guilin, China, (Guang Xi Province) and her friend, Peng Qiao, from Chong Qiang, China, (Sichuan Province) taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine. 

Note: The layers of different kinds of spice make this dish really fun to eat. You have an overall warming feeling from the Sichuan peppercorns, zippy slices of ginger, and the fried dried chili peppers, all working their magic. People love the texture of the dish, studded with crunchy fried peanuts. Find the Chinese cooking wine, rice vinegar, Sichuan peppercorns, dried peppers, red-skinned peanuts, and Chinese chili-bean paste at an Asian market or online. Pictures of the ingredients she used are above.
Cooking time: 1 hour active plus marinating time (2-12 hours)
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups short or medium grain white rice

For marinating:

  • 2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese white rice wine, called Mishiu
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For stir frying:

  • 1 cup + 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1 cup red-skinned peanuts
  • 2 Tbsp whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup 2-inch long dried red chili peppers, broken and deseeded
  • 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and sliced into thin cross sections
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese or Taiwanese chili-bean paste 
  • marinated chicken (see above)
  • 1/2 green pepper, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 3 scallions, cut into 1-inch segments

For finishing sauce:

  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tsp Chinese white rice wine, called Mishiu
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp corn starch
  • 5 tsp Chinese black vinegar (for gluten free, substitute cider or balsamic vinegar)
  • 5 tsp soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if desired)

Equipment

  • rice cooker or medium pot with lid
  • small pot
  • large wok or skillet at least 12 inches in diameter
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • small strainer basket (for submerging Sichuan pepper corns in oil in wok then removing them)
  • slotted metal spoon
  • paper towels
  • strainer or plate
  • medium bowl
  • small bowl

Instructions

1. Prep the chicken. Slice chicken into 1/2-inch cubes and mix in 2 Tbps Chinese cooking wine (Mishiu). Then mix in the rest of the marinating ingredients: 1/4 cup corn starch, 1 egg white, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and 1/2 tsp salt. Wash the counter and utensils that touched the raw chicken. Let the chicken marinate 2-12 hours if you can.

2. Prep the rice. Rinse the rice in a strainer so that the water runs clear. Cook rice in a rice cooker or medium pot with 4 cups water. Bring water and rice to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cook with the lid on for twenty minutes. 

3. Prep the stir-fry ingredients. Peel and roughly chop the garlic; wash and slice the scallions into 1 inch segments; halve the dried chilis (shake out and discard the seeds or leave 1 tsp of the seeds in if you like really spicy food); peel and slice the ginger into thin cross sections. 

4. Prep the finishing sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the finishing sauce.

5. Fry the peanuts. Fill a small pot with 1 cup oil and turn heat on high to get it shimmering. While oil is heating, line a strainer or plate with paper towels and keep it near the stove. When the oil is shimmering, add the red skinned peanuts and turn the heat to medium. Stir the peanuts so they fry evenly in the oil. Do not take your eyes off them - they can quite quickly transition from golden to burned. When the peanuts are golden, turn off the heat. Remove the peanuts from the oil with a slotted spoon, placing them on the paper-towel-lined strainer or plate to dry. Pour some of the oil into a jar for some other use, keeping about 1/2 cup in the pot. 

6. Prepare to stir fry. Put the Sichuan peppercorns in a small strainer basket near the stove. Bring the garlic, ginger, chili peppers, ginger-garlic paste, marinated chicken, green pepper, scallions, and finishing sauce next to the stove.

7. Flavor the stir-fry oil with Sichuan peppercorns. Heat the oil in the pot until shimmers and then turn the heat to medium low. Dip the strainer filled with pepper corns under the oil. Let the peppercorns sizzle and flavor the oil for as long as you can without letting them burn, about a couple minutes. Remove and discard the peppercorns.

8. Perform the stir fry in the correct sequence. Transfer the Sichuan pepper-flavored oil into a wok or skillet. Turn the heat to high. Once the pan and oil are hot, add the dried chili peppers, tossing in the oil until they turn a shade darker in color, about 20 seconds. Once they do, with about ten seconds between each item, stirring constantly, add the following: ginger slices, garlic, chili-black-bean paste, and then the marinated chicken. Keep stirring and cooking the chicken until all the pieces are cooked through (opaque through the middle of each piece). Once chicken is cooked, add the chopped green peppers, scallions, and fried peanuts, stirring for two minutes. 

9. Add the finishing sauce. Add the finishing sauce and continue heating and stirring until it thickens. Serve with white rice.

 

 

Mexican Stuffed Poblanos

Chiles en Nogada

As Yazmin Saraya from Mexico City, Mexico, taught Lindsay Sterling in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Photography by Cindy Giovagnoli.

Makes: 20 stuffed poblano chiles, serves 6-8 as a full meal
Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours
Note: This dish can be deep fried or simply roasted. Pick your pleasure. Also, if you have an apron, this would be a great occasion to wear it. 

Ingredients

For the stuffed peppers:

  • 20 poblano chili peppers
  • 1.5 pound ground pork
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 apple
  • 3 teaspoons oil
  • 1 sweet plantain (yellow with black spots)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tomatoes

For deep-frying (omit this part if doing gluten-free):

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 cups frying oil 

For the walnut cream sauce:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sherry (optional) 
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt or 1 chicken bouillon cube

Garnishes:

  • 2 pomegranates
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley

Equipment

  • tongs
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • large metal bowl
  • 2 sheet pans/cookie sheets
  • paper towels
  • paring knife
  • 1 medium bowl
  • plastic wrap
  • large saute pan
  • blender
  • 2 small plates
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • toothpicks
  • slotted spoon
  • slotted spatula
  • electric mixer with whip 
  • soup spoon for stuffing filling into peppers
     

Instructions

1. Broil the poblanos on a sheet pan on the top rack in the oven and broil. Keep on eye on them. Once the flesh is blistering (and colored brown or black) turn the peppers. Repeat until all sides of peppers are blistered. Put the peppers immediately in a bowl and seal with plastic wrap to steam for fifteen minutes.

2. Prepare your other ingredients. Dice the onion, apple, plantain and keep in separate dishes. Pull the thyme leaves off the stems, discard the stems, and finely chop the leaves. Remove the skins from the garlic cloves and finely dice. Slice through the equator of the pomegranate. Hold the side that is revealing the seeds facing down into a bowl and whack she skin-side all over with the back of a soup spoon until all the seeds fall into the bowl. Repeat with the other half of the pomegranate. Remove any of the fruit lining that fell into the bowl. 

3. Make the walnut cream sauce by simply blend all the ingredients for sauce in a blender until creamy and smooth.

4. De-skin and de-seed the peppers. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and put it next to the sink. Over the garbage disposal or a bowl in the sink, peel the skin off a pepper with a paring knife or your fingers. Make a slit down the length of the pepper body and gently remove the seeds without breaking the pepper. If you do, just pretend it's not broken and move on. It'll still be great! Rinse the cavity of the pepper under the faucet to remove any stray seeds. Put the cleaned pepper on the paper towel to dry. Continue with the rest of the peppers. Increase your speed and efficiency as you practice on the next 19 peppers. I got my time down to about one minute per pepper. Pat all peppers dry with a paper towel.

5. Make the filling. In a large saute pan on medium heat add a teaspoon of oil and saute the onion, thyme and garlic with a little salt, which helps them cook faster and enhances their flavor. Once onions are soft, add pork, cinnamon, oregano, and almond slices. Blend tomatoes in a blender. Once pork is cooked, add blended tomato and turn off heat.

6. In a small saute pan, add a teaspoon of oil and saute the plantains for about three minutes until they soften and turn gold. Put them on a plate to cool. In the same pan, add another teaspoon oil and saute the apples briefly. When they are warm but still crunchy transfer them to a plate to cool. When the pork has cooled, mix the apples and plantains into it. This is your filling.

7. Fill the peppers. Spoon the filling into each pepper cavity so that the pepper is full but still closes. If you are not deep frying your peppers, skip to #11.

(Yazmin stitched each pepper closed with 1-2 toothpicks, however, when I tested the recipe at home I found that I didn't like guests having to hunt through their meal to find toothpicks hidden under the fried batter and sauce. The next time I made the dish, I discovered that you don't need to use toothpicks. If you believe the peppers will stay closed once they are sealed with batter, they do! Up to you - use toothpicks or faith.)  

8. Batter the peppers. Put the white flour on a dinner plate. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Whip the egg whites in a mixer until the peaks are almost stiff but not totally, then mix in the yolks. Pour oil about 3/4 inches deep into a large saute pan and heat on high. Transfer the whipped eggs to deep plate or wide bowl. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and place on the counter near the heating pan of oil.  

9. Deep fry the peppers. When the oil is shimmering hot (but not yet smoking), press the stuffed pepper onto the floured plate until all sides turn white and then dip the non-seam side of the pepper into the whipped egg. Lay the battered side gently in the oil. Spoon egg mixture on the top of the pepper, encasing the whole pepper except the stem in whipped egg.

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10. Gently lap hot oil against the sides of the battered pepper to help it solidify its shape. When the bottom is golden, carefully roll the pepper with a slotted spoon and a slotted spatula onto its raw side. When the egg batter looks cooked and golden all around, remove the pepper from the oil and onto the sheet pan. Continue with other peppers. If you fry more than one pepper at once make sure to leave at least an inch between peppers in the pan.

11. Serve three peppers to a plate for a full meal. (Peppers should be served warm -- they might need a moment in the oven if they have cooled off). Top peppers generously with walnut sauce, chopped parsley, and pomegranate seeds.

 



 


 

Chilean Corn Pie

Pastel de Choclo

As Benjamin Sepulveda, Marcela Naveas, and Javiera Alvarez, from Santiago, Chile, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. 

Serves: 4
Cooking time: 1 hour
Note: Easily make this dish for 8 by doubling the amounts and using a large casserole dish or two pie plates. 

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ears fresh corn or substitute with 4 cups frozen kernels
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika (sweet, not spicy variety)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3 leaves fresh basil (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

Equipment

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • meat grinder, blender, food processor, or grater
  • 2 medium pots
  • 1 large pot
  • measuring spoons -- or just eyeball it!
  • 1 small pot 
  • 1 pie plate or similarly sized oven safe dish 
  • spatula

Instructions

1. Shuck the corn, and grind the kernels using whatever tool you have. You can grate the kernels off the cob using a grater, or you can slice the kernels off the cob with a knife and then turn them into a rough paste using a meat grinder, food processor, or blender. (To cut the kernels off the cob, turn a cob on its thick end and slice down the length of the cob, shaving the kernels off. Rotate cob and repeat until all the kernels are shaved off.)

2. Chop basil roughly or pulse it briefly with the corn in the blender or food processor. (Don't puree it in there otherwise your topping will turn slightly green, not as appealing as yellow!)

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook the ground corn and basil in a medium pot with the milk for 20-30 minutes on medium-low until the mixture thickens. 

4. Hardboil the eggs, and boil the chicken. You can do this together in one pot. (Cover both with water, add 1 tsp salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down so water is simmering). Once water boils, set a timer for 14 minutes.

5. Dice the onion. In large saute pan, saute the onions in 1 Tbsp oil. When the onions are soft, add ground beef, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 Tbsp paprika, and 1 tsp oregano. Saute, stirring occasionally until the ground beef loses all its pinkness.  

6. When the timer goes off, remove the chicken from the broth and cut into to it to see if it's done (opaque throughout). Cover the eggs in cold water.  Peel the eggs. Slice the chicken and eggs into 1/4-inch pieces.

7. Make the following layers in a deep pie dish or oven-safe baking dish: beef and onions on the bottom, then the chicken slices, then egg slices, olives, and raisins. Cover everything in the corn porridge. Sprinkle the top with sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden. Broil the top for extra crispy texture. 

Recipe Feedback

Please help improve this recipe for others by sharing your suggestions in the comment box below. 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Iranian Chicken in Walnut-Pomegranate Sauce

Fesenjoon

As Parivash Rohani, from Ardestan and Shiraz, Iran, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine, March 2016

Serves: 8
Cooking time: 2 hours active + 2 hours soaking rice

Ingredients


For chicken in walnut sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 Tbsp + 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp + 1/8 tsp powdered saffron (Iranian saffron preferred)
  • 1 lb. walnuts
  • 17 oz. pomegranate molasses
  • 1-6 Tbsp sugar, depending on the sweetness of your Pomegranate molasses (sometimes it has sugar in it, sometimes not)

For saffron rice:

  • 4 cups basmati rice (Aahu Barah super sela brand preferred)
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 dash rosewater (optional)

For Shirazi salad:

  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp sumac
  • 3 Tbsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil

Equipment

  • food processor or blender
  • large bowl
  • measuring spoons (or eyeball it)
  • 2 large pots with well-fitting lids
  • cutting board
  • chef knife
  • mixing spoon
  • liquid measuring cup
  • spatula
  • salad bowl
  • serving bowl
  • large serving platter
  • small plate or 2nd mixing spoon
  • strainer
  • medium bowl
  • tea kettle or small pan
  • small glass or ceramic dish

Instructions


1. Two hours or more ahead time, put the basmati rice in a large bowl, add 4 tsp salt, and cover the rice by a couple inches with cold water.

2. About two hours before you want to eat, cut onion into small dice. In a large pot with lid, saute onion in 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium high heat until soft. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Add chicken pieces to the onions and saute until golden. Add salt, pepper, and 1/8 tsp powdered saffron, and 2 cups of water. Wash cutting board, knife, and anything else that touched raw chicken with soap and water.

3. In a separate small glass or ceramic dish, cover 1/8 tsp powdered saffron with 1/3 cup hot water and let steep.

4. In food processor pulse walnuts in batches into a fine meal. You might throw in a tablespoon of sugar to help. Mix the ground walnuts into the chicken, along with 17 oz. pomegranate molasses. Mix. Add more water if you need to so the texture is loose and soupy. Cook this mixture on medium with the lid on, stirring occassionally, for about an hour until the liquid thickens into a thick sauce (think like the meat sauce on your spaghetti).

5. While the walnut sauce is cooking, peel the potatoes and slice into planks about 1/4 inch thick. Put potatoes in a bowl and cover them with water (so they don't turn brown before you use them).

6. After the walnut mixture has cooked for about 30 minutes, strain the soaking rice and put it in a large pot that has a lid. Cover the rice by 2 inches with water. Bring rice to a boil, and let it continue to boil like you would pasta - for about 10 minutes. When the rice still has a hard center, but is softening on the outside. Drain the rice in a strainer.

7. Cover the bottom of the pot that you used to boil the rice with olive oil and make a layer of potato planks in the oil. Pile the strained rice on top of the potatoes. Use the back of the spoon to create vertical holes in the rice, which presumably help the moisture get around evenly. Nestle the small dish of steeping saffron water on top of the rice. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the rice. Cover the pot and heat on low for about 30 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked and the potatoes on the bottom are crispy and golden.

8. Keep stirring the walnut sauce every so often. Taste it. It should taste tangy and delicious. If it's too sour, add more sugar. A little sour is good because it goes well with the rice.

9. Prepare the salad. Cut up lettuce, dice cucumbers and tomatoes and put in a bowl. Sprinkle sumac and dried mint generously to cover the top of the salad. Sprinkle salt as desired. Squeeze the juice of a fresh lime over the salad. Drizzle olive oil on top as you wish, about 4 Tbsp.

10. Taste rice to see if it is soft. When it is, fill the dish of saffron-water completely with rice and put it on the counter. Scoop most of the rest of the rice onto a large serving platter. Keeping the bottom layer of rice and potatoes in the pot for a minute.

11. Spread the saffron-soaked rice from the small dish over the top of the rest of the rice so the platter of rice looks beautiful yellow.

12. Fill a large wide bowl or your sink with cold water. Submerge just the bottom of the rice pot in the cold water for about 30 seconds. This helps the crispy rice and potatoes come up. Now loosen the fried potatoes and fried rice in the bottom of the pot with a spatula and put them on another platter.

13. Transfer chicken in sauce into a serving bowl. Serve yellow rice, crispy rice and potatoes, chicken in walnut sauce, and salad family style on the table. When making individual plates, Parivash likes to scoop the fesenjoon right on top of her pile of yellow rice.

If you like this dish, try it with lamb or beef meatballs instead of chicken.

Burundian Chicken with Summer Squash and Bell Peppers

Isosi


As Assumpta Karire, from Gitega, Burundi, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine.

Serves: 8
Cooking time: 1 hr
Note: The chicken and vegetables are in the photo above in the 6 o'clock position. They are served here with spicy rice called ipilau (at 12 o'clock in the photo), and Burundian spinach (3 o'clock). 

Ingredients

  • 8-12 chicken drumsticks
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 chayote squash
  • 1 onion
  • 1 yellow summer squash
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 + 3 bouillion cubes (she used Maggi brand) or 1 Tbsp Better than Bouillion
  • 2 tsp spice mixture (see below)
  • 1/2 cup water


Spice mixture:

  • 1/2 tsp whole coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 whole allspice
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp whole black pepper

Instructions


1. In large pot cover drumsticks with water and boil for about twenty minutes. While chicken is cooking, cut up all your vegetables into one-inch cubes. Blend the spices for the spice mixture in a spice grinder (a coffee grinder dedicated to non-coffee flavors). If you have more than you need, simply put it in a small jar or ziplock for use again later. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Strain the chicken and let it cool to the touch. Discard chicken skins and put the chicken in a bowl. Add 1/2 tsp pepper to chicken and 2 crushed bouillon cubes or (if you don't like MSG) 1-2tsp salt. Grate 3 cloves garlic over the chicken. Massage the flavorings into the chicken. Using your fingers, pierce the thickest parts of meat and stuff garlic in the slits. Cover a sheet pan with tinfoil and place drumsticks on it evenly spaced. Bake for 20 minutes until chicken is a little bit crusty and golden.

3. In a large pot on the stove, saute the vegetables with 2 tsp spice mixture in oil. After a couple minutes, add ½ cup water, and 3 bouillion cubes or 1 Tbsp Better than Bouillion (for those who don't want MSG), and cook with the lid on. After ten minutes, grate 3 cloves of garlic into the vegetable pot. A couple minutes later when vegetables are soft and juicy and garlic is cooked, remove from heat. 

4. Serve baked chicken with saucy vegetables. Assumpta served them with Burundian spicy rice and spinach with smoked fish. Click at right for those recipes.

 

 

Burundian Spicy Rice

Ipilau 

As Assumpta Karire from Gitega, Burundi, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Photos by Lindsay Sterling.

Serves: 8
Cooking time: 30-45 minutes
Note: Assumpta said: "ipilau has everything in it that you need." In Burundi, it's often served with beans, stewed greens, baked chicken with saucy vegetables, and salad.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced
  • 2 large onions, large dice
  • 1/2 cup carrots, cut into 1 1/2 inch segments
  • 4 tsp pilau spice mixture (see below)
  • large handful green beans
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 2 1/2 cups white long-grain rice such as basmati or jasmin
  • 4 cups water

Ipilau Spice Mixture:

  • 6-16 small, hot dried chilis or 1-3 tsp ground chili powder depending on your spice preference
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or 5 pieces (1-2 inches long)
  • 10 whole green cardamon pods
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 piece whole mace or 1/2 tsp mace powder (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds


1. Blend the ipilau spices in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. You'll have about 12 teaspoons total of the spice mixture. You'll only use 4 tsp today, so put the extra in a small jar or ziplock and use it again next time you make ipilau.

2. Choose a large pot that has a lid. With the lid off, saute onions and peppers in oil for twenty minutes on medium.

3. Add carrots, salt, spices, peas, green beans, and rice. Saute for a couple minutes, stirring, and then add water.

4. Bring to a boil, put lid on, turn heat to low. Rice is ready in about 15 minutes when all the water is absorbed and rice is soft.



 

Guatemalan Handmade Tortillas

As D., from a village near Uspantan, Guatemala, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Note: My Guatemalan friends eat these thick tortillas like bread with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The day we cooked together they ate them with their favorite homemade Guatemalan chili sauce and chicken and vegetable soup.
Makes: 4-6 servings
Cooking Time: 45 min

Ingredients

Instructions

1. Put the masa flour in a wide bowl. Add water and knead with your hands for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, soft dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Form a smooth top and let the dough sit for 5 to 10 minutes in the mixing bowl covered with a clean towel.

2. Heat a crepe pan, flattop griddle, or an iron skillet (whatever you make pancakes in should work) to medium heat. 

3. Watch this video to see how she formed the tortillas by hand. She did not use a tortilla press. Her dough was softer (it had more water in it) than the dough that works well in a tortilla press.  You basically break off a enough dough to form a lime-sized ball, then pat it back and forth between your hands until you have a flat disc shape about 1/4-inch thick.

4. Place the tortilla on a hot, dry pan and don't move it for about 2 minutes. (Depending on your pan, you may have to wipe an oiled paper towel on the surface to help the tortilla not stick. My Calphalon stainless steel pan does not work at all for this. My iron skillet works well, as does any pan with a nonstick surface.)

5. When the side of the tortilla facing down looks golden in parts, flip it over and heat the other side for minute or two until it is golden in parts. If you are burning the tortilla before the inside is cooked (cooked looks a darker shade of yellow than the pale raw dough), then turn your heat down a smidge.

6. Place the finished tortilla in a basket. This allows the steam to release - otherwise the trapped steam makes soggy tortillas. Continue forming and cooking tortillas until all your dough is gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Guatemalan Chicken and Vegetable Soup

As E., from a village near Uspantan, Guatemala, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine. Photo by Lindsay Sterling. 

Note: My Guatemalan friends ate this soup with thick, fresh homemade tortillas and a spicy tomato mash. 
Makes: 8-10
Cooking time: 1-2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 large whole free range chicken, cut into 2-3inch, bone-in pieces
  • enough water to cover the chicken by 3-4 inches
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 chayote squash, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered + 2 whole tomatoes
  • 1 lb. carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 3" segments
  • 4 culantro leaves (he called it samate) or small handful cilantro leaves, rough chopped
  • small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • small bunch of fresh parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chicken bouillon + 1 Tbsp as desired
  • 2 fresh hot chili peppers of your choice
  • 1 lime
  • 16-20 thick, handmade tortillas (substitute corn bread or bread)

Instructions

1. If you are handmaking the tortillas, start by making the dough first. Once it's resting, then get the soup started.

2. In a large pot cover the chicken pieces with water by 3-4 inches, add salt, 2 Tbsp chicken bouillon and boil until chicken is cooked (opaque throughout). While that's cooking, if you are making your tortillas from scratch, this would be a good time to make them.

3. Once the chicken is cooked, then add potatoes, squash, carrots, and the 2 quartered tomatoes to the soup pot.

4. While those are cooking, in a separate pot boil the two whole tomatoes and 2 whole fresh chili peppers until the chili peppers are soft. Peel skin off tomatoes and roughly chop chili peppers and then mash the tomatoes and peppers together in a mortal and pestle. 

5. When vegetables in the soup are tender, add all the chopped herbs (culantro/cilantro, mint, and parsley). Taste. If you think it needs it, add 1 Tbsp bouillon to enhance flavor. Serve bowls of soup with a basket of warm, thick tortillas, a bowl of lime wedges, and a bowl of the chili-tomato mash for guests to add to add spice their soup as desired.

Colombian Chicken Soup

Sancocho de Gallina

As Leanor McGinn from Bogota, Colombia, taught Lindsay Sterling in Durham, Maine, June 2015

Note: Find culantro, plantains, and yuca at Latin or tropical international markets. If you can't find those ingredients, use cilantro to replace culantro and use extra potatoes and corn to replace the plantains and yuca (pronouced YOU-Kuh). 

Cooking time: 1 hour
Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bunch culantro or cilantro
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces or 8 country style chicken pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 green plantains, peeled (see how-to-video) and cut into 1 inch segments, then halved lengthwise
  • 48 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 lb. yuca, peeled, cut into 3 inch long segments, and quartered lengthwise (you can buy this already peeled and frozen), or buy it fresh and peel it yourself
  • 1/4 green cabbage, cut into 1-inch thick chunks
  • 2 stalks celery cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 2 carrots cut into 1/4" pieces
  • 3 Tbsp sofrito (see step 1 below)
  • 2 tsp season salt (or blend of sea salt, dehydrated onion and garlic, coriander, black pepper, celery seed, allspice, ginger, red pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, paprika)
  • 2 whole ears of corn, shucked and cut crosswise into four sections each
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 cups white rice (optional)

Instructions

1. Blend green pepper, onion, garlic and all but a small bunch of culantro or cilantro in blender. Try to add as little liquid as possible (if any) to get the blender moving. Reserve 3 Tbsp of the blended mixture, called sofrito, for making this batch of soup and freeze the remaining sofrito in 3 Tbsp portions for making soup (or rice dishes) in the future. You can fill ice tray cubes or make dollups on a sheet pan or plate. Once frozen, transfer frozen sofrito into Ziploc bag.

2. In a large pot cover chicken pieces with chicken stock and enough water so that liquid is at least 3 inches deep over the top of the chicken. Put pot on high heat. Add sofrito, yuca, plantains, carrots, celery, and season salt. Simmer until chicken is cooked or opaque throughout (about 30 minutes) and then remove the chicken pieces from soup. Add the potatoes. After about ten minutes, add the corn pieces. When the potatoes are soft, add chicken pieces back to pot.

3. Remove the large pieces of yuca from the pot, and place on a cutting board. Cut the yuca in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the hard fiber running through the center of the yuca root. Cut lengthwise again into smaller pieces and return to the pot.

4. Season the soup to taste. Garnish each bowl with pieces of avocado and fresh cilantro leaves.
 

Cape Verdean Cod Casserole

Bacalhau Com Natas

As Clarice Pinto and Lucy Pires from Santiago, Cape Verde, taught Lindsay Sterling in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Cooking Time: 1 hour + 24 hours soaking the salt cod
Servings: 10
Note: Recipe adapted slightly to avoid MSG, which was in a couple of pre-prepared spice mixtures they used.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb. salt cod
  • 2 1/2 lb potatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion sliced into 1/4"-thick rounds
  • 1/4 tomato sliced into 1/4"-thick rounds
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, rough chopped including stems and leaves
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dash chili powder
  • dash sweet paprika
  • dash annatto or achiote powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 Tbsp corn starch

Instructions

1. The night before cooking, soak the salt cod in water in the fridge over night.

2. At least an hour before you want to eat, peel the potatoes and cut into 1" chunks. Cover with water in a large pot. Put the eggs (shells on) in the water along with the potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 14 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Take the eggs out and peel them. Strain the potatoes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350. Strain the salt cod.

4. In a large pot with 1/2 cup olive oil in it, saute the onions, tomato, cilantro, red pepper, yellow pepper, and garlic with all the spices (chili powder, paprika, annatto, and white pepper). When onions are soft, add the salt cod. Stir and cook until salt cod breaks down a little bit and turns kind of mushy. Then gently stir in the the potatoes.

5. In medium sauce pan, melt butter, whisk in corn starch, and then whisk in milk and cream. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the milk and cream thicken.

6. Spread the sauteed fish-potato mixture evenly in an oven-safe casserole dish. Slice the eggs into 1/4" rounds. Decorate the top of the cod and potato mixture with green olives and cross sections of egg.

7. Pour the thickened milk mixture over the whole thing. Bake for 40 minutes. Broil at the end so the top is slightly browned.

Taiwanese Chicken with Bok Choy

San Bei Ji [Translation: Three Cup Chicken]

As Ling-wen Tsai, from Tianan, Taiwan, and her partner, Nathan Kolosko, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine.

Note: This recipe requires you using a cleaver. This is worth the effort - the bones give the sauce body and flavor that meat alone will never do. Plus, using a cleaver is great therapy. If you don't have a cleaver, use chicken wings.

Makes: 4-5 Servings
Cooking Time: 1 night (marinating) + 1 hour active

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 lb bok choy
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce (for gluten free, use gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp + 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp Taiwanese rice cooking wine Mishiu (find this at an Asian market)
  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 green onions
  • 4 inches fresh ginger root
  • 2 tsp Taiwanese chili-bean paste (find this at an Asian market)
  • 2 bunches fresh Thai basil (find this at an Asian market)
  • salt to taste 
  • 1/8 tsp pepper, tri-colored or black

Equipment

  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • 2 small prep dishes
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • measuring spoons (or you can eyeball it)
  • Cleaver
  • large cutting board
  • wok with lid or large deep saute pan with lid
  • mandolin
  • chef knife
  • small pot with lid
  • three serving bowls

Instructions

1. Cut bok choy stems into 1-inch segments and leaves into two-inch segments and store them in separate bowls. Peel and slice garlic and put it into a small dish. Pick basil leaves and put them into a bowl. 

2. Use a cleaver to cut chicken thighs into 1-inch bone-in, skin-on chunks. If you have never used a cleaver before, just really wack through the bones confidently perpendicular to the bone, skin-side down. Saying "high ya!" as you chop down helps you give a strong, clean, powerful whack, which is required for a clean cut. Use the pads of your fingers to feel the cut bone ends and remove any loose bone fragments. Marinate the chicken pieces ideally over night with 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, and 1 tsp rice cooking wine. 

3. Cook short grain rice with water according to package directions.

4. Scrape the skin off the ginger root with the tip of a spoon or the back of a knife. Slice ginger into paper thin rounds on a mandolin, or do your best to slice thin cross sections with a chef knife. Slice the green onions into thirds crosswise and then into quarters lengthwise so you have thin segments. Pick Thai basil leaves off the stems. 

5. Heat wok with 1 Tbsp sesame oil on high. When hot, add the marinated chicken. Cook without stirring until the moisture leaves and the chicken pieces begin to caramelize (turn deep golden brown) (about 4 minutes). Stir. Add green onions and ginger slices, and turn heat to low and cover.

6. After 3 or 4 minutes, stir in 2 tsp Taiwanese chili-bean paste (remove the beans), 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp cooking wine, and 1 tsp sesame oil. Let cook 3 more minutes or as long as needed until chicken is completely cooked. Mix in fresh Thai basil leaves. Transfer chicken and sauce into a serving bowl.

7. Rinse wok and heat on high heat. Saute garlic in sesame oil for 2 minutes. Add the bok choy stems and saute about 3 minutes before adding bok choy leaves. Cook for another two minutes. Add salt and pepper.

8. Serve chicken, rice, and sauteed bok choy family style in separate serving dishes at the table.

Tanzanian Winter Squash

Futari Ya Maboga

As Iman Lipumba from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Adapted from A Taste of Tanzania, by Miriam R. Kinunda. Photos by Lindsay Sterling.

Note: You can make this dish to by saucy or not depending on how much liquid you add. Cooking time: 30 min.
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 small onion, medium dice
  • 1 butternut squash (or kobocha or hubbard), or about 1 1/2 lbs., peeled and seeded, and sliced into rectangular planks 1/2" x 2" inches
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder or 3 whole black/brown cardamon pods (green also tastes good)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1-3 cups water (if you want sauce - enough to hit the squash in the pot shoulder high)
  • dash cinnamon to taste

Instructions

Heat oil in large pot and saute onion until soft. Add ginger and cardamon, stir for one minute; then add water, coconut milk, and salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Add squash and turmeric. Once liquid boils again, cover pan and turn heat to low. Try not to stir or bump the squash if you want nice large pieces. Remove cardamon pods if you used them. Serve pieces of squash with sauce. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of each dish to taste.

RECIPE FEEDBACK

Please help improve this recipe for others by sharing your suggestions in the comment box below. Thank you.

Chinese Cucumbers

As Ann Shen from Guilin, China, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Photography by Lindsay Sterling.

Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 long or 2 smaller cucumbers
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar* (if you're gluten free, please substitute with another vinegar - this is made with barley)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (if you're gluten-free, please check the label on this before use)
  • 3-4 Tbsp Chinese chili paste* (crushed dried red chilis in oil with Sichuan pepper, salt, and peanuts)
  • 4 green onions, sliced into thin circles
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro

*Find these ingredients at an Asian market near you, or online. For the black vinegar you could substitute red wine, white wine, rice, cider vinegar, or balsamic with a little water added to it. For the chili paste, you could use anything hot - try some chili flakes sauteed in oil, chili oil, or the more mainstream Sambal Olek chili paste (this is much hotter so use only 1 Tbsp) - and add a handful of whole peanuts.

Instructions

1. The goal is to have equally long, wedge-shaped segments of cucumber to stack into a neat pile. To do this, cut the cucumber into equally sized segments, about 2 inches long. Then cut the segments in half lengthwise and then cut the haves lengthwise again into to wedges.

2. On a serving platter, stack the cucumber segments on top of each other like a wood-pile.

3. Pour the vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce over the cucumbers and around them on the dish.  

4. Spoon Chinese chili paste on top and around the cucumbers.

5. Sprinkle green onions and cilantro on top.


 

Indian Creamy Spinach with Cheese Cubes

Palak Paneer

As Shweta Galway from Umreth, Gujarat State, India, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Notes: Palak paneer is a spinach dish cooked with paneer cheese and spices. She served it with a kind of flatbread called roti. This is her quick weeknight recipe. For a more involved recipe, I enjoyed this one: www.vegrecipesofindia.com/palak-paneer. 

Click here to find Indian markets in your area. In Maine, I go to Masala Mahal, 798 Main St., South Portland, ME, 207-699-5555. 

Makes: 6 servings
Cooking time: 30 minutes (it's helpful to thaw the frozen spinach the night before) 

Ingredients

  • 8-10 oz. store bought or homemade paneer
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, medium dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 boxes frozen creamed spinach, thawed
  • 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 2 pounds frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tomato (optional)
  • 1 inch ginger (optional), peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • flatbread (for gluten-free meal, serve with rice)

Instructions

1. Cut paneer cheese into 1/2-inch cubes. Fry paneer pieces in 1 Tbsp oil on medium heat in a saute pan. Turn cubes every so often. You want them to turn golden brown on many sides of the cubes. Dry the fried cheese on paper towels.

2. Add another Tbsp oil to pan and fry onions and garlic until soft. Mix in creamed spinach and chopped spinach. Mix in garam masala, chili powder, and salt. If you like you can blend a tomato and the ginger in a blender and mix that into the spinach. Mix in the fried paneer pieces to the spinach and simmer for 10-20 minutes. 

3. Eat palak paneer by breaking off a piece of flatbread and scooping up a bite of spinach and cheese with it. Repeat.

Vietnamese Noodle Soup

Pho

As Hieu Nguyen from Dalat, Vietnam, taught Lindsay Sterling, in Falmouth, ME July 2013

Note: Hieu gets the fresh herbs, bean sprouts, fresh ginger, fish sauce, spices, chilis, limes, rice noodles, packets of pre-mixed pho seasonings, and even Pho serving dishes (super large bowls) at Veranda Asian Market in Portland, Maine, 695 Forest Avenue, Portland, ME, 207-874-8001, (open daily 9am-9pm). Look for an Asian market near you and go - it's a great experience. 

Makes: 8 servings
Cooking Time: 3-4 hours, with a lot of inactive time

Ingredients

 For the marinade:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2" ginger
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (he prefers Viet Huong brand)

For the broth:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2" ginger (okay to leave skin on)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 2-4 Tbsp fish sauce (he prefers Viet Huong brand)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (3" inches each)
  • 10 whole cardamon pods
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/3rds
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled
  • 16 oz. chicken broth

For the soup:

  • 24 oz. rice noodles (1/4" wide)
  • 1 bag (about 4 cups) fresh mung bean sprouts*
  • 1 bunch Thai basil
  • 1 bunch culantro
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 6-12 red Thai chilis
  • 1 lime
  • 4 scallions
  • Hoisin sauce (if you are gluten free, please check the label or avoid)
  • Sriracha sauce

Equipment:

  • stainless steal spice ball (for infusing herbs in broth) or cheese cloth and string*
  • sharp boning knife
  • large cutting board
  • 2 medium bowls
  • 1 large soup pot or stock pot
  • small handheld mesh strainer and small bowl
  • large colander for noodles
  • 8 larger-than-normal, pho-style bowls with base plates*
  • 8 large, flat-bottomed spoons*
  • 8 pairs chopsticks*

Instructions

1. Marinate the meat.

Rough chop garlic and 2" of the ginger. Put in a medium bowl. Take skin off whole chicken using a boning knife. Carve meat off the bones (breasts, legs, thighs and back muscles), trimming all fat off as you see it, and place meat in the bowl with the ginger and garlic, and the bones in a stock pot. Mix 1/2 Tbsp sugar, 1/4 Tbsp salt, and 1 Tbsp fish sauce into chicken meat with hands. Wash hands. Discard all chicken fat and skin. Wash cutting board and anything that touched the raw chicken. Cover chicken and let marinate.

2. Make the stock.

Place bones in a large soup pot or stock pot.  Cover chicken bones with cold water by 2-3 inches and turn on medium. Add 16 oz. chicken stock, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 Tbsp salt, and 4 Tbsp fish sauce. Enclose black pepper, cumin, clove, cardamom, star anise and cinnamon in a cheese cloth or a stainless steel spice ball. Roast whole onion and ginger over bare stove flame until ginger skin is black and onion is steaming and put both broth. Once broth begins to steam, turn heat to low. Don't let the broth boil or simmer at all. Once the broth has been steaming for about 20 minutes, swipe a handheld mesh strainer through the top three inches of broth, removing particulate matter and any oil. Discard the contents of the strainer and run it upside down under water as necessary to clean. The goal in the end is to have a clear broth, which is achieved by getting rid of floating particles and oil, and never boiling the broth. Repeat this process about every ten minutes over the course of an hour and a half to achieve clear broth. If you have oil on the top, skim off with large flat spoon.

3. Prep the fresh toppings.

Wash the bean sprouts, all the fresh herbs, lime and chilis. Dry with paper towels and place each on separate plates. Slice the lime into 8 wedges and then slice the wedges across into half wedges so you have 16 pieces.

4. Cook the chicken.

After the stock has been cooking for about an hour and a half, remove the ginger, onion, carrot, spices and bones. Slowly submerge the marinating chicken into the hot broth. Cook for 13 minutes, remove chicken and place in a clean bowl to drain and cool. Send the hand held strainer through the broth 4 or 5 times to get the ginger and garlic chunks out. Slice the chicken into 1/4 inch slices and put on serving plate(s).

5. Make the noodles. 

Bring a full large pot of water to a boil (for cooking rice noodles). Add rice noodles to boiling water and cook for 8 minutes. Strain and run cold water over them so they don't stick together as much when they're cool.

6. Assemble the bowls. First put rice noodles in the bowl, then 4-5 pieces of chicken, sprinkle on sliced scallions. Ladle on broth so the noodles and chicken are surrounded. Pick leaves off Thai basil and cilantro leaves from stems. Add about 4 of each to each bowl. Break culantro leaf into 1 inch long pieces, and add to soup. Add a mountain of bean sprouts on top. Squeeze lime over top. Serve with fresh whole Thai chili on the side.

7. Finish each bowl at the table. Diners squirt generous squiggles of Sriracha and Hoisin sauces on top of his or her bowl of pho. Before eating, toss the contents of the bowl with the chopsticks in one hand and flat-bottomed spoon in the other as you would a salad. Use chopsticks to help load up the flat-bottomed spoon, and go ahead and slurp the contents of the spoon and juice into your mouth. Take a nibble of the Thai chili (one of the hotter chilis in the world). When all you have is broth left, it's okay to lift your bowl to your mouth to sip the rest.

Congolese Fried Tilapia

With Yellow Rice and Red Sauce

As Ariane Kambu Mbenza from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, taught Lindsay Sterling in Yarmouth, ME, in May 2013.

Makes: 8 servings
Cooking Time: 1 hr 15 min + 6 hours marinating
 

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds whole Tilapia with the skin on
  • 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp + 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 + 2 + 2 Maggi cubes (for no msg, use 1 tsp Better than Bouillon per Maggi cube)
  • 2 Tbsp + 1/2 cup + 2 cups vegetable oil or red African palm oil
  • 2 pounds carrots, peas, and green beans cut into bite size pieces (she used a frozen medley)
  • 4 cups basmati rice
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp super hot dried chili powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 10 cloves or 2 Tbsp chopped garlic 
  • 16 oz. tomato puree

Instructions

Day Ahead:

1. Marinate the fish. Cut heads off 2.5 pounds tilapia and slice across fish into individual portions. Rub fish with oil, 1 Tbsp parsley, and 2 crumbled Maggi cubes. Let marinate for 6 hours or over night.

Day of:

2. Shallow-fry the fish. Fill a fry pan 1/4 inch deep with oil. Bring oil up to medium-low heat. Gently place fish pieces in oil with plenty of space around each (if the pan is crowded, the skins won't get crispy). Let fish cook slowly (about 20 minutes) so you don't burn the outside while the inside is still raw. I would say she had her heat on medium low and her fish cooked for 10 minutes a side. The skins were golden all around and crispy. Delicious!

3. Saute rice and veggies with seasonings. Cover the bottom of a deep, large saute pan or soup pot (with lid) or rice cooker with oil. Add 2 pounds frozen vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans) and saute until thawed, or add fresh vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes. Put 4 cups basmati rice in a bowl, cover with water, and drain. Cover with water again and drain. Add rice to the vegetables and stir in 2 tsp parsley, 2 crumbled Maggi cubes or 2 tsp Better than Bouillon, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp turmeric, and 3 Tbsp butter. Stir and let cook on medium-low for 30 minutes, stirring every so often.

4. Boil the rice. Separately heat up about 7 cups of water water (for adding to the rice later). I think cooking the rice without the water allows the grains to soak up the oil, flavored with all the things you put in it. I also suspect that it helps the grains stay separate, and not get all mushed together. After 30 minutes, add enough hot water to cover the rice by 1/4 inch (this is less than you would for plain rice because those veggies don't suck up water, quite the opposite - they provide moisture!) Cover and let cook on low for 15 minutes.

5. Make the tomato sauce. Pour enough oil in a small saute pan to be about 1/4 inch deep and add sliced onion. Saute on medium-low for 20-30 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp chopped garlic. Continue cooking. You don't want to brown the onions, just get them softer and softer, so adjust your heat accordingly. Add 16 oz. tomato puree, 1 Tbsp parsley flakes, 1/2 tsp dried piri piri or birds-eye chili powder (lighter in color and much hotter than the chili powder at your American supermarket). As the onions continue to cook they will disintegrate into the tomato puree. Disappearing onions is the secret to the sauce! Add 2 crumbled Maggi cubes or 2 tsp Better than Bouillon. Sauce is done when onions have disappeared and the sauce is smooth. (FYI, this sauce is great with rice, fried, chicken, potato, seafood, anything!)

6. Serve a big pile of rice on half the plate. Next to that, a nice piece of fish, and a pile of the red sauce on the last third of the plate.

Burundian Beans, Greens, and Goat

Sombe and Bugali

As Alain Bitariho and Mia Ntahobari from Bujumbura, Burundi, taught Lindsay Sterling.

NoteSombe (pronounced sahm BAY) are the greens, and bugali (pronounced boo GAH lee) is the white starch that's similar to polenta. The greens, chopped cassava leaves, can be toxic if not boiled for a minimum of 1.5 hours. 

Serves: 12-16
Cooking Time: 3 hours (plus 8 hours soaking beans the day before) 

Ingredients

From an African market such as Ebenezer, 654 Congress Street, Portland, ME:

From the regular grocery store:

  • 1 green pepper, large dice
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 1 + 1/4 onion, large dice
  • 2 leeks, quartered lengthwise and sliced across
  • 2 + 2 bouillon cubes
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 + 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 16 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter

Instructions

1. The night before, cover beans with water by 2 inches and soak over night. Drain and cover again with fresh water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour or as long as it takes for the beans to become tender.

2. Put cassava leaves in large pot on high with 4 cups of water, two chunks of goat meat, and two bouillon cubes. Simmer covered for 3 hours. 

3. Put the rest of the goat meat in a medium pot (with lid). Add enough water to not quite cover the meat all the way and 2 bouillon cubes, and cook on high with the lid on. Cook until the meat is brown.

4. When cassava leaves become fragrant, add cubed eggplant, green pepper, onion and leeks, and enough hot water so that it comes just under the vegetable tops. Add bay leaves, Sazonador Total, black pepper, garlic, and cook covered on medium high heat.

5. When goat meat is brown, strain the broth into a container for later use, and add 1/3 cup oil so that the oil is half way up the meat pieces. Add 1/4 onion, minced, black pepper, 1/2 tsp basil, bay leaf and curry powder.

6. After cassava cooks for fifteen minutes, add 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Continue cooking covered on medium high for another 2 1/2 hours, adding cups of water periodically to keep it somewhere between a soup and a solid. In the end, you don’t want it watery, but very moist.

7. When goat is getting darker brown and fried and 16 oz. tomato paste to goat and let cook for ten minutes, stirring to create a thick, red, pasty sauce. Stir in 1-2 cups of the reserved goat broth to loosen the paste into a bright red sauce. Turn off heat.

8. When the cassava has cooked for 2:45, then reheat the goat and pour most of the sauce into the cassava, keeping the goat pieces from falling into the cassava pot. Stir peanut butter to the cassava leaves. Cook for fifteen minutes more. Add more broth if you have it to extend the sauce in the goat pot.

9. You can make white rice or a thick style polenta called bugali to go with this dish (also called foufou in other African languages.) To make thebugali, bring water in a medium nonstick pot to a boil. Split water into two pots. Pour enough corn flour into the 1st pot (still on the heat) to reach the surface of the water. Stir with a wooden spoon, mashing the corn flour against the sides of the pot continuously.  Add water from the 2nd pot only if the corn flour remains dry and uncooked. When the corn mixture becomes bouncy and pulls away from the pot in a single mass, it’s ready. Press the bugali evenly into the bottom of the pot, then overturn the pot so the bugali falls onto a plate. Sprinkle water on another dinner plate and use the wet plate to press the sides of the polenta into a smooth mound.

10. Serve a 1-inch thick slice of bugali on each plate (or a serving spoon of white rice) with along with piles of cassava leaves (called sombe), goat meat with sauce, and boiled beans. Top with 2-3 drops of super spicy Akabanga oil.