A delicious aspect of travel is having the opportunity to sample world cuisine. We’ve brought you four signature dishes that highlight the cultural appetite of a nation. There is something very satisfying about eating a signature dish, such as Pad Thai in Thailand for example, the place where it was created. But if you’d like to ‘try before you fly’, then prepare to travel the world, one taste bud at a time.
Thailand, Far East
A simplistic dish found on every street corner throughout the kingdom – Pad Thai, or kway teow pad thai, is a firm favourite among travellers to this fair country. There are more complex Thai dishes you could try, but as a good example of how ‘simple is sometimes best’; a humble bowl of stir-fried rice noodles is hard to beat.
For authentic Thai cookery classes, consider the Apsara Beachfront Resort and Villas in Khao Lak to enhance your holiday experience (a complimentary class is offered when you book with Hayes and Jarvis).
Delicious Pad Thai
Pad Thai Recipe:
50ml tamarind water
40ml fish sauce
30g palm sugar or 2 tbsp caster sugar
200g wide flat rice noodles
16 large prawns, peeled or unpeeled
4 spring onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded, finely sliced
100g bean sprouts
4 stalks Chinese chives, chopped
2 handfuls of peanuts, roasted and chopped
Lime wedges, to serve
Fabulous food at Bangkok’s floating markets
- Combine the tamarind, fish sauce and sugar and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Put to one side for a moment.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil, pour over the noodles and leave for 15 minutes until tender. Rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.
- Place a wok or large frying pan over a high heat and add a small splash of oil.
- Stir-fry the prawns for a couple of minutes until they begin to colour and are cooked through but still juicy. Remove from the pan for a moment.
- Add another splash of oil to the pan and add the spring onions, garlic and chilli and stir-fry for few moments until the onions wilt, then stir in the noodles and the tamarind sauce.
- Return the prawns to the pan, then push everything to the side and crack in the eggs. Break the yolks and scramble them as they start turning opaque.
- Stir the egg through the noodles and add the bean sprouts, chives and peanuts. Stir-fry until well combined, then serve with lime wedges.
Tip: Never make more than one portion per adult per pan at a time to avoid your noodles sticking together.
No country demonstrates an eclectic cuisine more than the USA and this flavoursome stew is found throughout bayous and the French quarters of Louisiana. It is the result of centuries of immigration and integration citing influences from Creole and Choctaw Indian to Cajun and Spanish, to create a deliciously wholesome bowl of Gumbo.
Good ol’ Gumbo from Louisiana
Mama’s Good News Gumbo Recipe
500g andouille (German smoked) sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
120ml peanut oil
100g all-purpose flour
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 cup diced celery
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
A pinch of ground red pepper
1.4l of chicken broth
900g skinned and boned chicken breasts
Optional toppings: chopped fresh parsley, cooked and crumbled bacon or Tabasco sauce
- Roll up your sleeves then brown the sausages over a frying pan and don’t let them rest until they have a healthy tan. Then remove, pat dry and set aside for a while.
- Bring the Dutch pot (heavy duty cast iron casserole pot) to the cooker and gently heat the peanut oil, sifting in the flour and whisking until the roux resembles the colour of fudge, ensuring the mixture doesn’t burn. Keep whisking on a mellow heat until the mixture is smooth and resembles milk chocolate.
- Now add the onions, bell pepper, celery and cloves, constantly stirring. When the roux is perfect to taste, add the chicken broth. Turn up the heat slightly and let it boil, stirring now and then.
- Now add the chicken and the sausage, then turn down the heat to allow all the flavours to mingle for at least one and a half hours. At that point, strip the meat from the bones and serve in shallow bowls with long-grained rice.
Traditionally served for breakfast, Nasi Goreng translates to mean ‘fried rice’ and is a popular way of using up rice from the previous night’s meal. Alternatively, Indonesians would dry the remaining rice in order to make rice crackers. Some hotels such as Furama Villas and Spa in Ubud run their own cookery lessons so you can learn from the experts.
Cookery school at the Furama Villas and Spa, in Ubud, Bali
200g steamed rice
20g chicken, cut into thin strips
1 medium egg
15g shredded white cabbage
10g shredded green cabbage
1 leek, sliced leek
1 red chilli, sliced
10g carrots, thinly sliced into strips
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 celery, shredded
2 shallots, peeled and fried
1 tsp chicken bouillon granules
1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white pepper
15ml coconut oil
Nasi goreng at Furama Villas and Spa in Ubud, Bali
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed non-stick skillet over high heat. When hot add the coconut oil.
- Add the garlic and stir fry until fragrant.
- Add the chicken, egg and vegetables, then scramble it.
- Add the rice to the pan and use a spoon to break up any clumps.
- Season with the sauce, salt, pepper, chicken bouillon, and fried shallots and continue to stir fry for approximately 5 minutes until all ingredients are mixed.
- Turn the heat off and serve.
Mauritius, Indian Ocean
Mauritian Chicken Curry
What better way to learn about a destination’s cuisine than from a local chef? On a recent visit to Mauritius, we spoke to Chef Murugan from Zilwa Attitude, who explains what’s so special about Mauritian cuisine.
Chef Murugan at Zilwa Attitude in Mauritius
What’s your favourite Mauritian dish?
Mauritian chicken curry (preferably on the bone). It’s a heritage dish in every house. It can be served with or without the sauce in the traditional manner; it’s good either way. I ground spices together using a pestle and mortar.
What does Creole food mean to you?
Mauritian cooking means tradition and cooking for the whole family. It’s difficult to suggest one particular recipe as so many cultures are involved; everyone has their own way of cooking.
What is the most essential ingredient in Mauritian food?
Every family has their own home-made curry powder. My personal recipe is a blend of cloves, chilli, black pepper, ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Then add the magic!
What’s the best thing about Mauritian food?
Chilli heat – it’s added to every meal. Spice plays a huge role in Mauritian cooking and although it is toned down for guests, the option for chilli is always available. You just have to ask your friendly cook. Here’s a simple version of the wonderful curry we serve at the Zilwa Attitude.
Mauritian Chicken Curry
Serves 4 people
100g onions finely chopped
100g pureed tomatoes
3 tsp turmeric powder
50 g turmeric root paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp chilli paste
4/5 curry leaves
4 tsp Vegetable oil
Thyme, parsley, salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a pan and sauté the chicken pieces for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the chicken and add the finely chopped onions, garlic and ginger, then the pureed tomatoes, turmeric powder and turmeric root paste.
- Stir quickly, add the curry leaves, salt and pepper and simmer for six to seven minutes in a covered pan.
- Add chicken pieces into the masala. Add 1/2 cup of water, stir, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
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For more exciting destination ideas, browse these Bali pages and start planning your next adventure.
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