Weeknight Meal

110. South Korea: Korean Fried Chicken

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South Korea is a land of extremes! In some parts extremely traditional in others extremely outgoing and modern, but without a doubt in any case extremely beautiful! South Korea is also called the land of the Morning Calm, but the capital of Seoul tells a completely different story. Seoul is a city that never sleeps, nowhere else in the world does the phrase ‘work hard, play hard’ apply more than in Seoul. You can hardly turn a corner without stumbling across a tourist information booth, a subway station or a taxi in this metropolis where beautiful reconstructed palaces rub shoulders with teeming night markets and the latest technology.

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Things you didn’t know about South Korea:

  • South Koreans are obsessed with feces, and everything from turd-shaped cookies, phone charms, and an entire museum devoted to poop can be found in the country. Toilets across the country also feature pleasant flushing sounds, background music, and colored water.
  • South Korean men love makeup, spending close to US$900 million a year, or a quarter of the world’s men’s cosmetics. Up to 20% of the male Korean population is reported to use makeup regularly.
  • When a Korean’s name is written in red ink, this indicates that that person is about to die or is already dead.
  • South Korea is famous for its practice of “crime re-creation.” Citizens suspected of crimes such as rape or murder are led by the police in handcuffs to the scene of the crime and ordered to publically reenact the crime. To make the reenactment even more humiliating, the media is also invited to take pictures and publish details about the crime.
  • The microchips for Apple’s iPhones are made by the South Korean company Samsung,
  • South Koreans are automatically classified at birth according to their blood type, which is a custom that originated in Japan but has become very important in South Korean culture and may even determine who gets to marry whom.
  • On the South Korean island of Jeju, women traditionally go out to work while their husbands stay home. These women are called haenyeo (“sea women”), and they dive for sea urchins, abalone, and octopus, continuing a tradition that goes back 1,500 years and is passed down from mother to daughter.

I have been looking forward to this one! I know this is not a very traditional dish, but it is really really popular in South Korea! I heard so much about Korean fried chicken! The only Fried Chicken we have here in the Netherlands is KFC, and to be really honest I am not really a fan, little bland for my taste. But this fried chicken blew my mind!!!! Crunchy, spicy and sweet all at once!!!

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109: North Korea: Naengmyeon (Cold Soba Noodles in Cold Beef Stock)

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North Korea, by far the most isolated country on earth! North Korea has been the subject of speculation for years. And I really don’t want to get into it too deeply since we all know the North Korean regime is horrifyingly cruel. A leader starving his own population to prove a point is among the evilest things someone can do in my opinion. Over the past few weeks, they have been in the news negatively for trying to poke the bear (The US and Europe)… with several threats of nuclear war. Let’s all pray it doesn’t come to that! But how did North Korea become like this? And why is it that South Korea is far more prosperous? How did the rest of the world let it get this far? Should we intervene or should we call their bluff? These are all questions that keep a lot of people up at night…

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Things you didn’t know about North Korea:

  • Taedonggang is now the most well-known beer in North Korea, named after a river that runs through Pyongyang. There’s a beer ration—men get vouchers every month. This is not necessarily a nationwide policy but is the case in Pyongyang. But you can buy more; the ‘ration’ just means you get given vouchers, rather than your consumption is limited. The Taedonggang beers have numbers for names: One is made of barley, water, and hops, and tastes good. Two is the most common, with barley, water, hops, and a bit of rice. There is a 50-50 barley-rice mix. Four is more rice, and Five is rice beer. Five is repulsive.
  • Marijuana in North Korea is not illegal and can be bought at markets.
  • During the 1990s, all teachers were required to learn the accordion.
  • North Korea bases its calendar on Kim Il Sung’s date of birth: 15 April 1912. The year is 105, not 2017.
  • Blue Denim Jeans are illegal in North Korea as denim represents capitalist America.
  • According to his official biography, Kim Jong Il allegedly learned to walk aged 3 weeks.

That’s the classic North Korean dish, called naengmyeon in Korean. So classic there’s a song about it: “Naengmyeon, naengmyeon, Pyongyang naengmyeon!” Music is a form of propaganda, so to mention food gives people a sense of national pride and also shows security in food. “Long noodles refer to long life, or a long time being married. Everyone at a wedding gets served cold noodles, and the idea that you would say, ‘No noodles, thanks’ would be exceedingly rude.” However, I have to say it was not my favorite dish.

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107. Kenya: Lentil Curry with Peanut butter

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Kenya, the vibrant beating heart of East Africa! The original ‘sun, sand and safari’ destination.  Kenya was always the go to destination if you were going to Africa, until December 2007. In December 2007 there was an election the top candidates were the current president Kibaki and his ex-secretary Odinga. Kibaki won the election but Odinga accused Kibaki of election fraud. A thorough investigation proved Odinga was right, which of course led to rebellions. These rebellions had massive consequences, for instance, travel agencies stopped sending their clients to Kenya, and canceled the trips that were already booked… Since a lot of Kenyans work in the tourism sector was this a devasting result, which led to even more poverty… Eventually, Odinga and Kibaki made a compromise to let Kibaki stay on as president and Odinga serve as prime minister.

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Things you didn’t know about Kenya:

  • Scientists have estimated that the Great Rift Valley found in Kenya was formed over 20 million years ago when the Earth’s crust began to split.
  • Dowries are still traditional in Kenya. The groom’s parents must pay a dowry to the bride’s family otherwise their son will not be able to wed his bride. Dowries start at 10 cows.
  • Coffee is a huge export in Kenya, but it is not consumed in the country. Kenyans believe that all of the coffee they produce should be sold outside of their country, so they drink tea or beer.
  • Scientists believe that Kenya may have been the birthplace of human beings. Bones of early ancestors were found in the Turkana Basin.
  • It is free for children to attend school in Kenya, but many children do not go, they are too busy helping their families work the land, fetch water and other necessary tasks.

The yogurt gives acidity in this curry which it really needs because of a number of spices, so the freshness of yogurt is a good move! In the original recipe they use okra, but I couldn’t find any at the supermarket, so I just left it out.

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106. Kazakhstan: Manti Dumplings

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Kazakhstan, I never realized how big Kazakhstan was. Kazakhstan is sooo big that the distance from one end of the country to the other end is the same as the distance from Londen to Istanbul! That is about 3 to 4 hours by plane I reckon! Compared to the rest of Kazakhstan the capital looks futuristic, the reason for that is that it’s a completely new city, it’s only been the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, so about 20 years! In the summer the temperatures a fine but in winter it gets bizarrely cold with temperatures as low as -48 C (-53F) and on top of that really windy!! This makes Astana the second coldest capital in the world!

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Things you didn’t know about Kazakhstan:

  • Kazakhs believe that whistling a song inside a building will make you poor for the rest of your life.
  • Stan is an ancient Persian word meaning “land” or “nation,” and Kazakh means “wanderer,” “adventurer,” or “outlaw.” Therefore, the name Kazakhstan translates as “Land of the Wanderers.
  • When a Kazakh shooter won the gold medal at a 2012 international sporting competition, the organizers mistakenly played the theme music for the film Borat instead of the Kazakh national anthem. In the film, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen plays fictional Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev.
  • Horseriding is a large part of Kazakh culture, including the traditional sport kyz kuu, literally translated as “girl chasing”. It is essentially a race between a man and woman, both on horseback, that either ends up with the man kissing the woman (a victory for the man) or the woman beating the man with a whip (a victory for the woman). Indeed, some say Kazakhs were the first ever to domesticate and ride horses. Incidentally, horse meat is a big part of their cuisine.
  • The traditional nomad home of the Kazakhs is known as a yurta. It is comprised of a collapsible tent, with a wooden frame, covered in felt. Its name comes from the Kazakh word meaning “community,” “people,” or “family.”
  • Kazakhstan’s traditional drink kumis has also been referred to as “milk champagne.” It is made from fermented mare’s milk and is believed to be a cure-all for everything from the common cold to tuberculosis. The Kazakhs living on the steppes also drink shubat, or fermented camel’s milk, which is supposed to have virucidal properties
  • Kazakhstan has an unofficial taxi system. People wave on the street, cars stop, destination and price are discussed, and they go.

These dumplings are greasy but really good! The yoghurt seems like a weird condiment but actually goes perfectly well with the dish!

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Salt

Filling

  • 200 gr lamb mince
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Cumin

Sauce

  • Butter
  • Paprika
  • Caraway seeds
  • Chiliflakes
  • Greek yoghurt

the bowl of a large food processor or a large bowl, combine flour and salt. In a small bowl, beat together eggs and water.

Process or mix into the flour mixture until dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic.

Lightly grease a medium bowl with oil. Add the dough, turning to coat, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, combine lamb, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Quarter the rested dough. Place one quarter on work surface and cover the remaining with a damp dish towel. On a floured surface or using a pasta machine, roll the dough into a paper thin rectangle.

Cut the dough into 1 1/2-2 inch squares. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the lamb mixture into the center of each square. Fold all the edges over the filling and pinch to keep them together. Pinch to seal the seams over the filling.

Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet or counter in a single layer. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Fill a large pot with salted water and place over high heat. Once boiling, add the dumplings in batches, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook until they float and the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, draining well, and transfer to serving bowls.

Repeat with remaining dumplings. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Once it is melted and starting to sizzle, add paprika, mint, and chili flakes. Cook until fragrant and the butter begins to foam, about 30 seconds.

Remove from heat. Top the Manti with Greek yogurt and pour the butter. Serve immediately.

105. Jordan: Kofta with Tahini Sauce

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Jordan, a little bit of slice of peaceful heaven in the middle of the conflict area of the Middle East. Jordan isn’t involved in any of it! They do however harbor a lot of refugees from the surrounding countries. Jordan has a tradition of welcoming visitors: camel caravans walked the legendary King’s Highway transporting frankincense in exchange for spices and Nabataean tradesmen, Roman legionnaires, Muslim armies, and Crusaders all passed through the land, leaving behind these impressive monuments. Schermafbeelding 2017-07-01 om 13.26.32Things you didn’t know about Jordan:

  • Aqaba is the Red Sea destination you probably haven’t considered. But as question marks continue to hang over Egypt’s coastal resorts – Sharm El Sheikh in particular – this little urban nugget at Jordan’s southern tip is a plausible alternative. It has a pleasant ambiance in its bars and cafes, hits the temperature sweet-spot of the upper Twenties Celsius during October
  • It may be one of the oldest cities on the planet, in fact. Archaeological evidence suggests that what is now Amman witnessed human settlement as early as the 13th century BC. It was also established on the surface of our world so long ago that it features in the Bible (as Rabath Ammon).
  • It is arguably the most memorable scene in the Indiana Jones movies – the moment at the climax of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade when the Indy lays eyes on Al-Khazneh, the rock-carved Treasury building in the “lost” Nabatean city of Petra (which is masquerading on screen as the resting place of the Holy Grail).
  • Sitting 1,200 meters above sea level, Ajloun Forest Reserve in northwest Jordan is five square miles of hills and valleys where you can camp among wildflowers or stay overnight in one of the log cabins, leaving the days wide open for wandering among oak, strawberry, carob, and wild pistachio forests.

The tahini sauce however simple it goes perfectly with the kofta!! I served it with couscous but a nice salad will do very well of course! I used fresh mint in the kofta because I have lot’s of it on my plant on the roof terrace, but you can just as well use dried mint.

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103. Japan: Hiroshima: Okonomiyaki (Savory Cabbage Pancakes)

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Hiroshima has been through a lot, recovering from the atomic bomb as I hope everyone knows, and if you don’t please read up on your history!!! But really that’s really not what I want to talk about!  Hiroshima is located on the island of Honshu. Nowadays Hiroshima is known as the street food paradise of Japan, especially the tiny island of Miyajima that is a 10-minute ferry trip from the city center. Miyajima is also known for the deer that just roam the village freely, not scared of humans. If you’re lucky you can even pet them!

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Things you didn’t know about Hiroshima:

  • Hiroshima has been farming oysters since the 1500s. Today it produces 25,000 to 30,000 tons of oysters a year, 60 to 70 per cent of Japan’s total production. Known locally as sea milk for their nutritional value, they are eaten boiled, fried, grilled, with rice, in stews, or raw.
  • After the war, Hiroshima needed to get its transport system up and running fast. Tram cars were donated from cities all over Japan and even abroad, earning them the nickname Mobile Museum. Today the tram fleet ranges from pre-war clunkers to the futuristic Green Mover Max. It’s the cheapest, easiest and most eco-friendly way to get around town.
  • Kumano, a village 20 kilometers east of Hiroshima, produces 15 million calligraphy, makeup and artist’s brushes a year. That’s 80 per cent of Japan’s production. Of the town’s 27,000 inhabitants, 1,500 are brush craftsmen, hand-making brushes the traditional way. Visit on September 23 when 10,000 brushes festoon the streets for Kumano’s spectacular Brush Festival.

Okonomiyaki is a very popular takeaway dish in Hiroshima, you can add any ingredients you want so great for using up veggie leftovers! It would also be the perfect drunk food!!!! However, let someone sober make it for you because the transferring from pan to pan will be pretty hard once you had a few drinks.

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101. Italy Rome: Pasta Cacio e Peppe

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Boy oh boy do I have some story about Rome… Last year I went to Rome with my 2 sisters and my brother. Apart from Rome being an amazing city with epic food! To do as much sightseeing as we could we decided to rent 3 scooters, I was sitting in the back of brother’s scooter. In the beginning, everything went great, just the 4 of us cruising through the eternal city of Rome… but then after lunch, things started to go south… While eating our pizza we were discussing where to go next. My little sister was going to read the map, I don’t remember exactly where we were trying to go, but the point is we got lost and just a little lost, very very lost! My little sister managed to get accidentally get us on the highway during the freaking rush hour, with cars honking beside us!! We took the first exit we could find, to a parking. My brother was livid, my older sister panicking, I was calm as day (no idea why), but my little sister has this very annoying habit that when she gets nervous or stressed she starts laughing hysterically and can’t stop.
Which managed to piss off my brother, even more, this kick-started an enormous fight between them. We tried to find our way back to the hotel, getting lost over and over again, my brother getting angrier by the second! Eventually, my older sister stepped in, I got in a cab and asked the cab driver to drive me to the hotel while my brother and sisters followed. I have never been so happy to get back to a hotel!

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Things you didn’t know about Rome:

  • Tradition has it that throwing a coin over your left shoulder into Trevi Fountain will ensure a trip back to the Eternal City, but it also helps feed the needy. The Catholic charity Caritas collects the coins and uses the proceeds on a supermarket program that provides rechargeable grocery cards to Rome’s low-income citizens. Over a million dollars worth of coins is tossed into the fountain each year, or over $3,000 a day.
  • In September 1870, Rome found itself under siege by the Italian army and was formally annexed by the Kingdom of Italy on October 2nd that year. The wars leading to the unification of Italy had already been going on for decades, and essentially ended when Rome was captured and made capital in 1871.
  • Almost everyone has heard the saying that “all roads lead to Rome.” In fact, Romans would have flipped that saying on its head. In their view, all roads led from the Milliarium Aureum, or Golden Milestone, erected by Augustus in the Roman Forum. The Romans had an impressive network of highways and roads, necessary not just for trade but for military transport. Many still exist, including a section of the Appian Way.

This pasta really is as simple as it gets! But it’s hella good!!!! Cheese, black pepper and butter three of the best ingredients in the world in my opinion! Pasta Cacio e Peppe is basically the elevated version of the pasta with cheese you craved as a kid. And a great option when your broke 😛

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