Friday, June 25, 2010

Welcome BACK to Chad

Tuesday's post about Chad was rather bleak and sobering, I understand that.  However, there is so much more to Chad than sandstorms, strife, refugees and desperation.  Yes, there is all that -- and on a scale that's truly sobering -- but that is only part of that region of the world.

Truth be told, after looking at the cuisine of Chad for about 15 minutes, both Angel and I were excited -- this has to be the most fun country we've visited yet!  The variety of foods, and cooking methods, and seasonings...truly interesting.  Turns out, they eat lots of beef and chicken in Chad, as well as greens, bananas and plantains, and spicy foods.  There's lots of cooking over fire.  There was even a recipe for a pineapple beer that included the instruction "be careful in case the fermenting beer explodes."

Cooking + Explosions = Win!!

In stark contrast to Tuesday's meal of millet porridge stood Wednesday's dinner of Moo Sate and Futari.  I actually started Tuesday night -- Moo Sate is (are?) thinly sliced beef, marinaded in a concoction of onions, garlic, ground chilies, and curry powder, threaded on skewers and grilled over charcoal.  It's served with a peanut butter sauce that's flavored with Worcestershire, soy and Tabasco sauces, and coconut cream.  Complementing the skewers, futari is a pot of acorn squash and sweet potato chunks, simmered in sauteed onions, coconut milk, cinnamon and cloves  Look at that roster of ingredients and tell me you thought they'd come from a central African country known for starvation and refugee camps!

In our recently re-worked version of ELTW, this was my night to cook a dinner that I had chosen.  I actually got home from work before Angel and the kids and was working on the vegetable dish when they arrived.  As the charcoal out in the grill ashed over, I brought in the skewers to warm up.  This was greeted with "what is that horrible odor?" from my wife.

"Dinner," I said.  I actually thought the skewers had an enticing curry/spices aroma.  Tangent:  did anyone know that curry powder makes your fingers smell like curry powder even after washing several times, sleeping overnight, showering, working a full day and washing your hands several more times?  Well, it does.

Futari

So, I started with the futari.  It did what I thought it'd do, essentially.  I am not a fan of acorn squash...I blame over-zealous squash-loving parenting in my childhood (sorry, dad!) for my distaste of orange squash.  That being said, I know that squash and sweet potatoes take fairly well to sweet flavors like cinnamon and sugar and in the end, I actually liked this dish.  The squash and tubers did soak up the coconut, cinnamon and cloves and had a vaguely pumpkin-pie-ish flavor.  Angel thought it was just okay -- she's pretty attuned to texture and I suspect that this was a bit too mushy for her.  The kids didn't like it.

Moo Sate

The moo sate was spicy.  Flat out, I could've left out the ground chilies (I used red pepper) and maybe half the curry -- the kids wouldn't eat it, and I don't really blame them...until I tried the peanut-butter sauce with the skewers.  The sauce added a whole new dimension to the hot, curried beef, and cut the heat down almost totally.  The kids still wouldn't eat it.  Surprisingly, even to her, Angel really liked it.  She had to stop before she wanted to, just because of the spiciness.  I dunno, maybe we're wusses when it comes to spicy food.  Very tasty, though.

And last night, Evie chose the dinner and helped with the cooking.  Starting with a cup of oil, seasonings and a big helping of greens, she and Angel cooked some chicken breast, a handful of prawns and rice.  The recipe called for smoked fish, but Angel couldn't find any while grocery shopping.  As an aside, seeing the prawns, I realize that those are what we should've used for the Australian shrimp dinner.

This time, I'll admit that I was the one a little bit dubious about greens boiled in oil, and I generally have a love for greens that's unheard of in most Yankees.

Amusing story:  Years ago we lived in Indiana, and most of my co-workers proudly touted their southern upbringing.  "I wuz born'n reared in Kentucky," they'd proclaim.  So, one Christmas season they were deciding on the menu for the department holiday party and sent around a little menu so we could check off whether we wanted beef or chicken, potatoes or yams, cole slaw or salad....corn or collard greens.  So, I filled out mine and sent it on to my manager.  About a week later, he comes into the computer room while I'm working and starts out, "Nick, um..."  Turns out, the only one in the department of 50 or 60 Hoosiers who wanted good, southern collard greens was the northerner from Michigan!

Sweet Potato Greens w/ Fish & Shrimp

Back to Chad -- dinner was awesome!  The greens soaked up the flavors of the oil, spices, chicken and prawns, and it all melded into a wonderful, mild dish -- granted it did call for chili peppers, but Angel left them out to have mercy on the kids.  The flavored oil soaked into the rice, and everything picked up a bit of prawn-y essence.  Very good.



Recipes:

Moo Sate
  • 2 lb Beef; thinly sliced                1 c Peanut butter
  • 3 tb curry powder                     1 c coconut cream
  • 1/2 ts Ground chilies                  1 tb lemon juice
  • 2 garlic clove; minced                1/4 c Soy sauce
  • 2 Onion large; minced                1 tb Worcester sauce
  • 4 tb lemon juice                         2 x Tabasco sauce; dash
  • 1 tb Honey                                1/4 ts salt

  1. Slice the meat into thin strips no more than 1/4" thick and about 1" wide.
  2. Make strips paper-thin if possible.
  3. Mix curry powder chilies garlic onions salt lemon juice and honey in a large bowl.
  4. Add the meat strips and toss well to cover with the marinade.
  5. Thread meat strips on bamboo skewers 3 or 4 pieces per skewer.
  6. Make sure that plenty of Onion and garlic bits cling to the meat.
  7. Arrange skewers of meat in a dish cover with any remaining marinade and refrigerate while making the sauce.
  8. Brown or grill the meat skewers and serve with the warmed Peanut butter sauce for dipping.
  9. Sauce: Blend all ingredients together well to make a smooth sauce.
  10. Keep refrigerated but warm before serving.
 Futari
  • one Onion, chopped
  • one pound Squash, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • a pound or two of yams (sweet potatoes may be substituted), peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • oil to saut√©
  • one cup coconut milk
  • one-half teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • one quarter teaspoon ground cloves
  • salt to taste


  1. Fry Onion in skillet, stir and cook until tender.
  2. Stir in all other ingredients, and heat to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and stir occasionally.
  4. Cook until vegetables are tender (ten to fifteen minutes).
 Sweet Potato Greens with Fish and Shrimp
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 2 to 3 pounds (or more) of sweet potato greens, or similar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 hot chile pepper, cleaned and chopped (or left whole)
  • 1 piece of dried, salted, or smoked (such as cod or herring), soaked in water and washed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup of dried shrimp or dried prawns (or a handful of fresh shrimp or prawns)
  • any, pan-fried and cut into pieces (optional)
  • chicken, pan-fried and cut into pieces (optional)
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot.
  2. Add the greens, onion, pepper, dried, tomato paste, baking soda, and dried shrimp or prawns (if desired).
  3. Cook for fifteen minutes, stirring often.
  4. When greens are tender, add fresh shrimp or prawns, and fried or chicken.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Serve with rice. 
-- all recipes from the wikia lifestyles Recipes Wiki.

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