In this Age of Covid, we have had to get creative for our hobbies, activities and use of time. This month, we decided to recreate -- in a culinary manner -- a trip around the world that we made in 2018.
Our son Matt and his family had moved to Myanmar and we wanted to fly to see them for the winter holidays. Coincidentally, our niece Chelsea got married in New Zealand and we wanted to attend in November. We explored the various options for air flights and tickets, and found that we would spend the least money if we bought around-the-world tickets permitting us to circumnavigate the globe -- provided that we continued to fly the same direction all the way around the world.
This seemed to work! So we plotted our itinerary. We flew from Houston, where we left our RV, to Auckland, New Zealand for Chelsea's wedding; then on to Perth, Australia for a two week tour of the Outback and the Nullabour; then to Bangkok, Thailand and on to Yangon, Myanmar for the holidays with our son, daughter-in-law and grandson; then back to Hong Kong; then to Paris, France for New Year's; and finally, back to Houston:
This month, our re-creation of that trip would be culinary! We chose dishes representative of each stop along the way, and Kathy undertook the mammoth task of creating them each night in succession!
If you're interested in joining us on our round-the-world trip, fasten your seat belt and continue below.
Step 1 - Bring leg of lamb to room temperature, about 2 hours.
Step 2 - Pour wine into a slow cooker. Mix lemon juice, honey, mustard, garlic, vinegar, rosemary, thyme, sea salt, and pepper together in a bowl until a thick paste forms. Massage paste into the lamb using your hands; gently place into the slow cooker.
Step 3 - Cook on Low, without removing the cover, for 5 hours. A thermometer inserted near the bone should read 145 degrees F (65 degrees C).
Let lamb rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
AUSTRALIA - Meat Pie
500g minced beef
1 onion, chopped
1 cup water, divided
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/4 cup ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3 tablespoons plain flour
2 puff pastry sheets
Pre-heat oven at 220 degrees Celsius.
Brown meat and onion.
Add 3/4 cup of the water, bouillon cubes, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, pepper, oregano, and nutmeg.
Boil and cover for 15 minutes.
Blend flour with the remaining 1/4 cup water until it becomes a smooth paste; add to the meat mix.
Grease a pie dish and line with puff pastry.
Add the cooled filling mixture; brush edges of pastry with milk or beaten egg; put the pastry top on; press edges down with a fork.
Trim edges and glaze top with milk or beaten egg.
Bake in a very hot oven, 220 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.
Reduce heat to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 25 more minutes, or until golden brown.
Here is everything browned and combined in the pan --
-- and here was our scrumptious meat pie!
THAILAND - Thai Red Curry
1-1/4 cups brown jasmine rice or long-grain brown rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
Pinch of salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger (about a 1-inch nub of ginger)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin 2-inch long strips
1 yellow, orange or green bell pepper, sliced into thin 2-inch long strips
3 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal into 1⁄4-inch thick rounds (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 can (14 ounces) regular coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups packed thinly sliced kale (tough ribs removed first), preferably the Tuscan/lacinato/dinosaur variety
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut sugar or turbinado (raw) sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar or fresh lime juice
Garnishes/sides: handful of chopped fresh basil or cilantro, optional red pepper flakes, optional sriracha or chili garlic sauce
1. To cook the rice, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the rinsed rice and continue boiling for 30 minutes, reducing heat as necessary to prevent overflow. Remove from heat, drain the rice and return the rice to pot. Cover and let the rice rest for 10 minutes or longer, until you’re ready to serve. Just before serving, season the rice to taste with salt and fluff it with a fork.
2. To make the curry, warm a large skillet with deep sides over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the oil. Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, while stirring continuously.
3. Add the bell peppers and carrots. Cook until the bell peppers are fork-tender, 3 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the curry paste and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
4. Add the coconut milk, water, kale and sugar, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the peppers, carrots and kale have softened to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Remove the pot from the heat and season with tamari and rice vinegar. Add salt (I added 1/4 teaspoon for optimal flavor), to taste. If the curry needs a little more punch, add 1/2 teaspoon more tamari, or for more acidity, add 1/2 teaspoon more rice vinegar. Divide rice and curry into bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, if you’d like. If you love spicy curries, serve with sriracha or chili garlic sauce on the side.
Here are the luscious ingredients assembled --
-- and this is what the dish looked like as we prepared to put it in our bowls!
MYANMAR - Mohinga
3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
12 small shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and divided
4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and divided
4 3/4 cups water, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
4 (1/2inch) slices peeled fresh ginger, divided
2 pounds farmraised catfish fillets
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle sugar over oil; cook 1 minute or until sugar melts. Add thinly sliced shallots, stirring to coat. Cook 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Set caramelized shallots aside.
2. Crush 3 garlic cloves. Cut 2 lemongrass stalks in half lengthwise. Combine crushed garlic, halved lemongrass stalks, 4 cups water, 1 teaspoon turmeric, anchovy paste, and 2 ginger slices in a large Dutch oven. Add fish; bring to boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until fish flakes when tested with a fork. Remove fish from pan. Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl, reserving 4 cups stock, discarding solids.
3. Coarsely chop white portion of remaining 2 lemongrass stalks; reserve green portion for another use. Place chopped lemongrass, remaining 3 garlic cloves, remaining 2 ginger slices, crushed red pepper, and 7 shallots in a food processor; process until a coarse paste forms.
4. Place garbanzo bean flour in skillet; cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until fragrant and slightly darker in color, stirring constantly with a whisk. Pour flour into a small bowl; set aside.
5. Add 1 tablespoon oil to Dutch oven; swirl to coat. Add shallot paste, and cook 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Return fish to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring gently to coat with paste. Remove fish mixture from pan; set aside.
6. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, reserved fish stock, fish sauce, and paprika to pan; bring to a boil. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup water to garbanzo bean flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture to boiling stock mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return to a boil.
Reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Add remaining 3 halved shallots; simmer 10 minutes or until shallots are tender. Add fish mixture; simmer just until hot.
7. Cook noodles in boiling water 2 minutes or until tender; drain. Spoon 1/2 cup noodles into each of 6 bowls. Ladle 1 1/3 cups soup into each bowl, ensuring each serving gets a shallot half. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons caramelized shallots, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and about 1 tablespoon green onions. Serve with lime wedges.
Look at all these ingredients!
We agreed that this was the tastiest dish of our world tour. You should try it!
HONG KONG - Dan Dan Noodles
Well, Dan Dan Noodles might not be traditional Hong Kong fare, but it is Chinese and we thought it would be fun to make, so we used our artistic license to include it here.
3 servings fresh noodles, around 200g
Chicken stock or pork stock
toasted peanuts, roughly crushed
400 g minced pork, with some fat
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 tsp. Sichuan peppercorn
1 star anise
1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tbsp. Shaoxing cooking wine
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 cup ya-cai
1 tbsp. low sodium light soy sauce
Mixed Seasonings for each serving:
1 tsp. sesame paste
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. chili oil
1 tsp. black vinegar
1/4 tsp. Sichuan peppercorn powder
Make the pork topping
1. Heat oil in wok and then fry star anise and Sichuan peppercorn with slowest fire until aromatic. Then remove the spices.
2. Add minced pork and fry for several minutes until slightly browned. Drizzle cooking wine around the edges. Then place sugar and light soy sauce in.
3. Add Ya cai in, continue frying for 3-5 minutes until dry and golden brown.
Cook noodles and serve
1. Mix all the seasonings in serving bowls. Combine well.
2. Cook noodles in boiling water according to the instructions on the package and blanch vegetables in the last minutes when the noodles are almost ready. Transfer the noodles to the serving bowl.
3. Top with pork topping, chopped scallion and toasted peanuts. Pour around 1/2 cup hot pork stock or chicken stock along with the edges. Mix well before eating.
A lot of ingredients here, too:
Be sure to eat the finished Dan Dan Noodles with chopsticks. You might have to finish with a spoon to slurp up all that yummy sauce:
PARIS, FRANCE - Coq au Vin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 slices bacon diced
8 ounces mushrooms
6 small white onions cut in half or quartered depending upon size
2-3 cloves garlic mashed
2 carrots peeled and rough cut
1/2 bottle of full-body red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 ounces Chicken Stock made with Better Than Bouillon® Premium Roasted Chicken Base
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
sea salt and black pepper to taste
4 large skin on, bone in chicken thighs
1. Add chicken to a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Pour in one cup red wine and seal bag, pressing out air. Let stand while you prepare the remaining ingredients or overnight for the best results.
2. Preheat oven to 350°
3. In a large Dutch oven or rondeau, cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring and reducing heat as necessary to prevent scorching, until browned and fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.
4. Remove chicken from zipper-lock bag, discard wine, and pat dry.
5. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Return Dutch oven with rendered bacon fat to medium-high heat. Add chicken thighs skin-side down, and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, about 5 minutes. Don't move the chicken around while cooking, allow it to sear in place. Use a spatula to get under the chicken when turning being careful not to rip the skin.
6. Remove Chicken from pan setting aside until needed.
7. Add mushrooms to pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add onions, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add bacon, the remainder of the wine, tomato paste, chicken stock, thyme and rosemary and bring to a simmer, stirring up any browned bits.
8. Add chicken back to pan, leaving skin side up and not submerged if possible. Transfer to oven and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.
9. Remove pan from the oven and take the chicken out of the pan.
10. Add in two tablespoons of unsalted butter that has been rolled in flour, getting as much flour into the butter as possible. This is called a beurre manie and will thicken your sauce. Mix the beurre manie in well and allow to simmer over medium heat.
11. Return chicken to pot, spooning sauce on top. Garnish with remaining sprig of thyme or rosemary. Serve with potatoes, pasta, or rice.
Our cute little chicken thighs are ready to dance with the other ingredients below:
Here is everything dancing together:
The final dish danced on our tongues!
HOUSTON, TEXAS - Chicken & Zucchini Tex-Mex
Finally we landed back in the U-S-of-A and settled in to a familiar type of dish.
1 tbsp avocado or coconut oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves minced
2 medium bell peppers chopped
1 lb boneless & skinless chicken breasts cut into 1" pieces
1 cup corn frozen or fresh
2 large zucchini diced
14 oz can low sodium black beans drained & rinsed
14 oz can low sodium diced tomatoes not drained
1 tsp store bought or homemade taco seasoning
1 tbsp cumin divided
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1 cup Tex Mex or Colby Jack cheese shredded
1/2 cup green onions chopped
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
1. Preheat large deep skillet on low - medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper; saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Move vegetables to the side of the skillet and add chicken. Sprinkle with 1 tsp cumin, salt and black pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, taco seasoning and remaining cumin. Stir, cover and cook on low-medium for 10 minutes.
4. Sprinkle with cheese, cover and cook for a few minutes or until cheese has melted. Top with green onion and cilantro. Serve hot, on its own or with brown rice or quinoa.
Here, the chicken and zucchine were ready to dive into the Mex Mix --
-- making a final Tex Mex that we were ready to dive into:
So there you have it. A culinary trip around the world, right in your own home! We enjoyed making and eating it, and you will too.