Saturday, 17 March 2012
This week Sam chose Greenland. If you look at the globe New Zealand is almost exactly the opposite side of the world of Greenland, so it’s no surprise that finding the exact ingredients was an adventure in itself. Obviously whale, seal and reindeer weren’t going to happen, but reindeer meat IS venison, and venison I can find – in fact, as luck would have it – at the local butcher just up the road! Not too many small butchers carry game meat, we thought we’d need to make a 20 minute drive, so we saved on gas!
The entrée called for halibut, which is obviously in abundance in the northern hemisphere, I phoned the big fish market on the city waterfront, and yes they do have halibut…. sometimes… “was today sometimes?” I asked hopefully – “not today mate, it’s like brill eh? So I drove over the bridge to the markets to see what I could find – the only flat fish I knew of was flounder, and I know my dad likes flounder, but it’s so small it wouldn’t work for this entrée, far too fiddly – I saw what they had to offer, then jumped onto my iPhone and did a quick search for Halibut substitutes – the results: cod, turbot, dogfish, haddock – so I opted for the first on the list and bought some cod.
The rest of my shopping list was pretty simple to find, apart from a couple of the herbs – (I wanted fresh) so I had to buy live plants from the Garden shop as the supermarket had only dried leaves, or powder of a few of them.
Raw Halibut and Sugared Balsamic
Cold Smoked Salmon on bread
When Sam asked what they eat in Greenland “I said fish probably”, turns out I wasn’t far wrong. I think this is a more contemporary update of a traditional food. The Halibut (Cod) was marinated for about 15 minutes in lime juice and sea salt, and drizzled with a reduced balsamic vinegar and sugar mixture. The salmon was put on the bread with a small lemon slice, a shrimp and a piece of dill, and the mussels were just smoked mussels. Now I didn’t really expect the boys to eat any of this, but it was the only entrée-type dish I could find for Greenland, so I didn’t push it, but since Sam’s Grandma tried the mussels which she doesn’t like, Sam willingly tried the shrimps and had quite a few, even Ryan tried one of two. They had quite a good helping of bread between them though.
Sam’s rating 10/10 (He wasn’t game enough to try the fish, but he loved the shrimp and bread)
Suaasat (Reindeer soup )
Okay, okay, our version wasn’t reindeer soup, but deer soup, and the venison was absolutely melt in your mouth, after almost 2 hours simmering away. A lot of soups are overly salty, or peppery, so much so that they overwhelm the true flavor of the ingredients, not with this one. It looks hearty, and although it was, it was subtly flavoured and you could taste the herbs and seasonings. Soaking up some with the Dark Rye bread that traditionally accompanies it you could even pick out the lemon zest that’s added part way through the cooking process. Eating it, it felt very natural, earthy, not overly seasoned, and warming, on what I can only imagine is a pretty chilly (frozen) country year round. We made up a sizable amount of this soup, I always overestimate how much people will eat – so it looks like I’ll have my lunches sorted for the coming week.
Although Ryan loved the Russian borscht I couldn’t get him or Sam to try this soup (and I wasn’t up for a battle tonight), but again he went for the Dark Rye bread, and enjoyed that (Rye bread isn’t all that popular in New Zealand, I went to a local bread specialty store “Baker’s Delight” and they didn’t stock any!). I considered making it myself, but I thought after making the dessert, I was going to be sick of kneading dough, so I managed to find some at another store.
Sam has promised he’ll try a piece of the venison from the soup when I reheat it for lunch today, so I’ll update his score when that happens.
Sam’s rating: 6/10
Kalaallit Kaagiat (literal: Greenlandic Cake – A fruit cake)
It’s a bread – it’s a cake – no, it’s a bread. It’s a hybrid – I think that’ll cover it. I was a little dubious making this, “It has how much butter?”, “what? How much yeast!?!” Sam and I mixed it all together doing as we were told, and a rather spongy rubbery dough emerged, so we were quite pleased about that – but was a little worried that it’d be very yeasty tasting. Once kneaded into a nice ball I put it in a bowl, covered it in plastic wrap and put in the sun while I ventured over the harbour bridge to find the Halibut substitute.
“Now Sam, by the time I get back this should be twice the size, do you think it will be?”
“Nah Dad… 3 times bigger, and it’ll explode out the top!”
Well, he wasn’t far wrong, if it didn’t have the film over the bowl it would’ve been all over the show. So it rose really nicely. Once I’d knocked it back, Sam and I had a discussion about whether it needed to be turned into two loaves – it was massive. “Just one Dad, a big one” So we shaped it into a loaf shape and let it have 15 minutes to rise before putting it in the oven… oh boy… it rose again alright, it almost filled the entire over tray!
It started browning off quite early, and the next dilemma for something I’ve never cooked before was, will it be cooked through before it’s black on the outside, half way through baking I decided to brush the outside with egg, just to add a little moisture back in and hopefully stave off burning. At the 50 minute mark I called it – “I don’t want it any darker, it’s coming out, we’ll have to find out whether it’s cooked when we serve it.” I did the tap test on the soft spongy crust, and it sounded okay.
So at dessert time, I added my disclaimer for Mum and Dad (the kids already knew) as I started to slice into the bread/cake/bread and there was a sigh of relief (from me at least) it was cooked perfectly – and we proceeded to polish off about 1/3 of the behemoth fruit bread/cake/bread.
We served it with blueberries and nuts and grains, and unfortunately all the blueberries were finished which means I didn’t get to have any on my breakfast today 😦 So I used the nuts and grains on instead!
Sam’s rating: 10/10 (I want more but I’m full)
Greenlandic Coffee (it’s called a coffee, well I guess it is, it’s 50% coffee/50% alcohol)
This would definitely keep you warm on a cold Greenlandic night – warm, and a little bit silly I’d imagine!
This was probably the most ‘looked forward to’ part of the evening for Sam and Ryan, “Dad’s going to light your drink on fire Grandma, and it’s going to be blue!” Poor Grandpa missed out, but we thought it best the designated driver didn’t try one, he just had a normal coffee.
I’m not a big fan of “special” coffees, mainly because they’re normally pretty milky, and I take my coffee like I take my whiskey – neat.
But this was quite nice, the coffee flavour was a little lost, but you could get a hint of it at the end – plus the blue flames were just cool.
Oh! I almost forgot to mention, to add a touch of authenticity to our evening, at the beginning of the night we turned the air conditioning right up (or right down I guess – Up in power / Down in temperature).