International Cuisine Exchange!

In another thread, an Australian Doper lamented how difficult it was to get good Mexican food where he lived. I’ve heard English Dopers wax nostalgic for Southern-style biscuits ‘n’ gravy, and wonder why they couldn’t make them properly at home. Me, I jones for the food I had abroad in Thailand and mainland China, which I cannot get here at home in the U.S.

I’m sure some of this difficulty comes from variations in ingredients — what type of flour did you use, was the butter salted or not, did you use vegetable oil and if so, what kind? — but also because when recipes cross borders, we tend to substitute our own methods and ingredients.

So let’s share authentic recipes! What foreign food do you adore, but which you cannot get or make properly at home?

I have been unable to truly recreate the Spanish tortilla espanola. This is an omelet made from fried potatoes. I think I can’t bring myself to fry the potatoes in enough olive oil. Also, I think our eggs are not as good.

In Spain they will serve this on bread (sort of like French bread, only Spanish, which IMHO is not quite the same) to make a sandwich. I was only able to find bread that tasted right at one restaurant, and they’re out of business. So, no yummy potato omelet sandwich for me.

I would love to be able to make pizza (or pasta, I guess - tomato sauce, basically) sauce that tasted anywhere near what I had in Italy (specifically Venice and Florence). I’ve never had a pizza anywhere else in this country that came close to the flavor (it was somewhat sweeter and less acidic tasting, if I had to describe it, but that doesn’t do it justice). Anyone got any ideas?

ETA: This might also do better in Cafe Society, where I see lots of recipe threads, but I don’t mean to junior mod.

I’ve never had true Italian pizza, nor Spanish tortillas. I wonder what I must be missing! Perhaps some kind Doper will come along and exchange recipes for these?

In Egypt we were able to buy the most delicious, fragrant, locally grown cape gooseberries.

You can sometimes buy them in Indonesia, rather to my surprise, but they are expensive and flavorless imports from South America - clearly bred to travel well, not for flavor.

It is not an authentic Egyptian recipe, it is something I just made up – but there is nothing to compare with an apple crisp made with half Granny Smith apples and half best-quality cape gooseberries. It is ethereal. And I may never taste it again. :frowning:

Mumper’s Recipes

A kindly Mumper started a blog to collect recipes posted in MMPs. Mine are Spanish, I try to provide only those which weren’t, ah, obtained from the Italians and don’t include materials that I know are hard to find Elsewhere. If something is hard to find Elsewhere but can be simulated easily (tuna canned in vinegar) I explain how to simulate it (or at least I think I did).

There’s quite a few Southern recipes too, for example.

Coworkers are here. Will post (and cross-post to MMP so it gets blogged) recipes for several Spanish tortillas. Pamtomaca may be in the blog already, I’ll check. And ensalada mixta, that one isn’t up and it’s “the” salad in Spanish restaurants… ensalada aragonesa would be doable too… argh, why are you making me think of food!

Come to South Africa!

Me, I lust after decent Japanese noodle stock. I’ve tried various kinds of bottled types, as well as homemade chicken, pork, bonito and soju concoctions, but I never get it quite right. Maybe it’s the quality of konbu I get here, I don’t know.

Also, clotted cream, but there’s no way to get that without the cow, is there?

My enchilada casserole recipe:

A couple cans of cream of mushroom (or chicken)
A pound or two of browned and seasoned beef (or baked and seasoned chicken)
One small can nacho cheese sauce (this is the secret)
Enough milk to get the right consistency (should slightly heap over a spoon, but not much)
Tomatoes and onions, if desired.

And the ingredient that’s hard to find outside of the southwest, green or red chile.

In a baking dish, layer corn tortillas, the sauce you just made, and cheese, in that order. Make about 4 or 5 layers.

Regardless of how much I make, this is impossible to keep around for longer than 24 hours.

The best restaurant chain that I’ve been to that doesn’t exist (yet) in the U.S. is Nando’s, which is a chain doing peri-peri chicken. It’s a style created by Portuguese colonists in Mozambique. The chain is based in South Africa. The Nando’s I was at is in Oxford, England. I was going to complain about how it’s impossible to get chicken like this in the U.S., but in searching on this, I discovered that this month a branch of this chain is opening up in Washington, D.C. So . . . never mind.

I had pizza twice on my trip to Tuscany last year. Ask me about it on Saturday. :slight_smile:

Agreed re: authentic Spanish tortilla.

The potatoes in Spain were a yellow waxy variety that I’ve never seen here in Canada - the flavour was similar to Yukon Gold, but the texture was much closer to a Russet. I’ve tried making tortilla at home using various potato varieties, but to no avail.

The eggs are also quite different - I was completely taken aback when I ordered a fried egg in Barcelona and saw the yolk was practically orange (the taste was also substantially… ummm… eggier?).

Not that my tortillas come out badly, by any means… just different.

  1. High heat (Italian wood burning ovens get from 800-1000 degrees F). The crust is the most important part (in my opinion) of a Neapolitan pie. It should have a nice char, flavorful, and delicately crispy on the outside, softer as you head towards the center of the pie.

  2. Flour. Italians generally use a superfine flour called type “00” flour for pizza. Those flours tend to be low-to-medium in protein content (in the 8-10% range), which, combined with the fine grind, yields a tender product with some crust and a nice, soft chew.

  3. No shortening in the dough, at least not in a traditional Neapolitan pie. This is a simple bread dough.

  4. The sauce is usually very simple: just crushed Roma tomatoes and olive oil. Use high quality tomatoes (either from your garden, farmer’s market, or a good canned brand like Muir Glen or Carmelina San Marzano, for example).

  5. Quality toppings. should provide you with all the inspiration and answers you need.

This guy uses the self-cleaning cycle on his oven to get to the temps needed for Neapolitan pies. He’s specifically trying to recreate a Neapolitan-New York pizza, but it’s similar to what you’re looking for, especially if you use the Caputo 00 flour instead of the King Arthur bread flour.

Some of the basics of Australian cuisine – sausages, meat pies, sausage rolls – are simply unavailable in the US, or at least, not in anything resembling their Australian form. It’s surprising, because they would probably go down quite well for American tastes.

Aw, man, I loves me some peri-peri/piri-piri/peli-peli/pili-pili chicken, spatchcocked and grilled. I spent ten days in South Africa and that’s practically all I ate. If anybody has any good recipes, please share. I’ve come up with my own, over the years, but I haven’t been able to quite figure out what peppers best substitute for whatever is used in South Africa. I think the Thai chiles seemed to be the closest.

Actually, the pepper used in piri piri sauce is called… piri piri.

Yeah, I know… seems too simple, doesn’t it? :slight_smile: Wikipedia says the pepper is also called the African birdseye, if that helps.

I’d imagine the peppers might be hard to find (esp fresh), but I would imagine that the sauce itself should be available in any grocery store where the Portuguese community shops regularly - it’s one of the staple seasonings in Portuguese cuisine, right up there with paprika and garlic.

(It’s ridiculously easy to find the sauce here in Toronto, actually, especially in the west end where the Luso-Canadians are centered… if you want to PM me your address, I’d be happy to pop some in the mail)

I’ve also heard that “piri piri” is just a generic word meaning “pepper,” and while it can refer to African birdseyes, it doesn’t have to. At any rate, what pepper would be the best substitute if I can’t find African birdseyes? Saveur says Fresno peppers in this month’s issue, but I don’t quite think so.

You might look here. This spice market in Seattle puts African cayenne in their piri piri.

They also appear to sell African cayenne by itself, but that link is down.

pulykamell, thanks!

True honest to god Italian lasagna. I got some suggestions here when I came back to Italy but never got around to actually trying them. Perhaps now I’ll do so - I keep meaning to get the pasta maker for my mixer.