Cuisine Across Cultures

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This was our first week in our new class of Cuisine Across Cultures. To our very happy surprise, Chef Riley from our Foundations 1 class is teaching this course. For our first week in class we didn’t to a ton of cooking, but rather we discussed the differences between our cuisine on the west side and the cuisine of many others on the East side of the world.

One of the reasons food on the west is so tasty to us is partly because we have grown up with it our whole lives, but also because it has four distinct tastes that we enjoy above all others. These four characteristics are sweet, sou, salty and bitter. While other cultures of the world also have these tastes, they also have one that we tend to shy away from and that is pungent. Our first thought when we see moldy bread is not to find a way to use it, but to throw it away. This isn’t the case everywhere. There are some cultures that use 40 year old, fermented eggs; wow. For this class we will be studying the flavor profiles of many different cultures cuisines. A flavor profile consists of the ingredients, herbs and spices and methods that make one food distinctly different from another.

One ingredient that can be found in almost every culture that we discussed was salt. There are a few different types of salt including but not limited to sea salt, kosher salt and iodized salt. There is a place in France called Guerande where there is perfect water that produces that absolute best sea salt. This is very expensive salt that can’t be purchased just anywhere. For salt to be made, near the coast of some cities they create what is called an evaporation pond. This pond fills with coast water and then shuts. The sun dries the water up until it produces large salt piles that are then taken to further process. This is why many different sea salts have various colors and flavors because of the soil that they were made in.

One of the worlds greatest chefs, Chef Paul Bocuse once said that “Moroccan food is one of the best five cuisines of the world.” Ever since that day, Moroccan food has been placed on a pedestal and cherished by many chefs all over the world. It is because of this that we started our first kitchen day with Moroccan food. We discussed the flavor profile of Morocco including chicken, fish, lamb, spicy peppers,  citrus, nuts, dried fruits and much more. The spices that are used in Morocco are amazing. Everyday spices that we may not consider, turn into this spectacular explosion of flavor. We made a Moroccan to place onto scallops that we then seared. We also made a spicy peanut sauce that was a genius combination of flavors. There weren’t many areas of the first day that were photo worthy but the recipes were definitely blog sharing worthy. Try the marinade on anything, but be sure to taste it because using, strong! But amazing. The chimmichurri recipe is delicious as well, it has the texture of pesto but with much more bite. If you’re not a salt user, don’t start with all that is calls for. I can’t wait to share everything else that we’ll be experiencing soon. I also can’t wait to one day visit Morocco, I have officially fallen in love with a new cuisine. See you around the world next week.

Charmoula- Moroccan Marinade

  •  1 Tbsp Spanish Paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp Italian parsley, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 cup Fruity extra virgin olive oil (you can use un-fruity)
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Peanut Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 each shallot, minced
  • 2 each Thai chillies, finely minced with seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp Kecap Manis (Indonesian soy sauce, can just use regular)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp Tamarind water- See below
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh peanuts, fried golden brown and finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, minced
  • Water if needed to thin out

Make the Tamarind water by re-hydrating tamarind pulp in warm water and straining.

Fry the peanuts.

Mix all the ingredients together.

Chimmichurri

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp chili flake
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig oregano, stemmed
  • 1/4 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1/2 Shallot, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Puree first 6 ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add the next 5 ingredients and pulse until bright green and mostly smooth. Drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil.

 Charmoula Chicken: North African Spiced Chicken Breast, Jack Cheese, Caramelized Onion on Grilled Sourdough with a Lemon, Garlic Aioli

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