Zingy Asian Salad


Asian food has always been one of my favorite food genres.  Growing up we went to the same Chinese restaurant every week.  We were like part of the family and they always knew what we were going to order – which was Moo Shoo Chicken with hoisin sauce wrapped in tortilla-like pancakes for me.  Although I have had to convince Ty of its awesomeness over the years, the pivotal moment for our kitchen was when Ty fell in love with sushi and wholeheartedly began endorsing experimentation with Asian flavors at home.

Sometime last year we decided to have steak for dinner and I was determined to try out something new.  When I first began cooking, Epicurious.com was my gateway website to experimenting with ingredients, cooking gourmet, and following food blogs. So, I consulted Epicurious for a recipe and found a great one that included all of my favorite Asian flavors.  It turned out to be really excellent, which was confirmed by Ty, who claims that he does not like soy sauce, although I put it in my dishes all the time and he continues to love my cooking.

This afternoon I was craving something cold, fresh, and zingy, so I adapted the original recipe to make an Asian salad that was super delicious.

Zingy Asian Salad

Ingredients

For the dressing

  • 1 1/2 tbl soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbl lemon
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 heaping tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbl water
  • a dash of red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the salad
  • 2 stalks chopped spring onion
  • 1 cup cabbage
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 grated zuchinni
  • 1/2 julienned red or yellow pepper
  • a handful of mange tout
  • 1 tbl sesame seeds
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander

In separate bowls, mix together the dressing ingredients and the salad ingredients.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until nicely coated.

Die Strandloper – A Pirate’s Feast


For Christmas this year, I took Ty to Langebaan for the weekend – a quaint coastal holiday destination on the West Coast.  We stayed at Quiver Tree, the same bed and breakfast where Ty took me on our first romantic getaway together and I arranged for him to go kite surfing all day Saturday in the waters of the kite surfing capital of the world.  Ty had to wait  28 excruciating days to redeem his Christmas present, so as you can imagine, when we woke up on Saturday morning without a poof of wind, Ty was utterly disappointed.  Fortunately, the weather was perfect for all other activities besides wind sports, so we spent the day on the beach and perused the shops.

To further cheer Ty up, and also to make my dreams come true, we booked dinner at Die Strandloper, an outdoor seafood restaurant famous for its incredible 10-course rustic dining experience on the shores of Langebaan beach.

We arrived at Die Strandloper and were greeted at the door. We brought a coolerbox full of drinks and were told to grab some glasses, and awesomely there was no corkage fee.  As we walked into the restaurant, we felt like we were in a pirate’s den or fisherman’s graveyard. There were nets and buoys draping over the dining areas, seafaring paraphernalia laying about,

a skull and cross bones flag waving in the air,

and a talented guitarist who started off playing random Afrikaans songs but transitioned to playing personalized and funny renditions of classics such as “Lucy in Langebaan with Diamonds” and laughter escalated throughout the night.

The four dining areas were situated around the main feature of the restaurant – a beautiful stone braai pit – gearing up for a long night ahead.  While we were waiting for the festivities to begin, we watched as the staff stoked the coals, stirred the potjie pots, and prepared the fish.

The menu

A staff member walked around to each dining area to let us know that the courses were ready and we could help ourselves.  We were given paper plates and clean mussel shells to be used as our knives and forks for the night. Minimalist and beautiful. 

The bread was baked in gigantic steel cylinder ovens encased in cement.  We helped ourselves to a slice of bread and dallops of homemade butter and jam.  It was divine but we forced ourselves to sample only a tiny piece in order to save room in our stomachs for all to come.  We also brought home a whole loaf and made awesome panzenella and breadcrumbs, which made up for only having a small bite during dinner.

Prior to Die Strandloper, I had only ever tried canned mussels while hiking in Fish River Canyon and wasn’t too impressed. However, the fresh black mussels cooked in white wine and garlic butter sauce were phenomenal and changed my opinion of mussels forever.  I so badly wanted more but restrained myself with extreme difficulty.

We disposed of our paper plates and prepared for weskus haarders, a small local fish.  We chose our fish and then had them expertly deboned in seconds using mussel shells and the skeletons were thrown to the excited scavenging seagulls.

Since I had just made seafood paella a few weeks ago, I was very interested to try theirs and compare.  The seafood paella was full of mussels, white fish, crayfish, veggies, and bright yellow rice. It was nice but Ty and I both confirmed that my paella was (of course) worlds better.

The snoek with potatoes and rolls was one of my favorite courses. The women squeezed perfectly circular dough balls from their hands and quickly cooked them on the grill.  The homemade rolls were doughy, tasty, and moreish.

The deliciously braai-charred snoek was served with soft and buttery potatoes and sweet potatoes.

The peppery and hearty waterbloemmetjie and lamb bredie was a pleasant and delicious break from the fish. Waterbloemmetjie is Afrikaans for “water flower” and they are traditionally cooked in meat stews.  They are surprisingly savory and delicious and completely intrigue me.

By this point, Ty and I were certainly getting full and began consciously pacing ourselves to ensure that we would last for the rest of the courses, especially the crayfish.

The smoked angelfish had unusual smokey woody flavors and the stompneus was very light and buttery.  We both wanted seconds, but new it would push us over the edge, so refrained.

And finally we had reach the grand finale of magnificent crayfish that we, along with everyone else, had been waiting for all night. Dozens of crayfish were piled onto a giant grill and slathered with a huge paintbrush dripping with garlic butter, which elicited a salivating response.  For any seafood lover, it was sheer heaven watching these babies cook and everyone was rapidly snapping photos as proof of the unthinkable.

Ty and I coveted the crayfish laying elegantly on our plates.  We delicately pulled off small pieces of soft meat and slowly chewed each bite, savoring the experience for as long as we possibly could.

To end the night off perfectly, we had deep fried syrup drenched koeksisters and coffee because there is always room for dessert.

I heart seafood. And Die Strandloper.

The cost: R205.00 per person. The experience: Priceless

PS – Yesterday we drove back to Langebaan and the wind was blowing, so Ty finally got his kitesurfing day!

Jonesin’ Chicken Enchiladas


While visiting the States for my sister’s wedding, I went to my favorite Taqueria (Spanish for Taco Shop), Taqueria Las Comadres II, to order a jumbo mouth-watering burrito.  As my burrito passed down an assembly line of little old Mexican ladies, I chose spicy grilled chicken, cheese, lettuce, pinto beans, sour cream, guacamole, and jalapenos from an array of fillings.  The last woman in line folded my burrito with perfection and handed it to her salivating customer.  My favorite part of the burrito eating experience is taking numerous trips to the salsa bar to fill small plastic containers with salsas of every kind (from pineapple to classic pico de gallo), diced jalapenos, and loads of coriander.  I always drown my burrito to create a hodgepodge sauce and a unique flavor for every bite.

Me eating a super burrito with my mom at Taqueria Las Comadres II before flying back to South Africa - And you can bet I ate the entire thing!

When I first arrived in South Africa to study abroad in 2008, I naively ordered “nachos” at Spur (mistake number 1), which to my dismay, were doritos chips (mistake number 2) covered with tomatoes, corn, beans that were not black nor pinto  (mistake number 3), feta cheese (mistake number 4), no jalapenos (mistake number 5), and subpar guacamole (mistake number 6).  This introduction to South African Mexican food was not happy making and after my Spur experience, I pretty much wrote it off.  However,  I have since tried and enjoyed the gourmet style Mexican food at El Burro and the tex-mex at Fat Cactus, but have yet to try San Julian, which apparently is as authentic as it comes in South Africa.

I got the jonesin’ for some good home-made Mexican food and came across a fabulous chicken enchilada recipe in Pink-Parsley, my favorite food blog by Josie, which was previously adapted from Tide and Thyme, and which I have adapted yet again to appeal to my tastebuds and cooking style.  This recipe has become one of my all time forever favorites that I constantly rave about and recommend to friends and family.

Jonesin’ Chicken Enchiladas (serves 4)

Ingredients

For the enchiladas

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbl chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-2 tomatoes chopped
  • 4 pieces boneless chicken breast chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 julienned red pepper
  • 1/2 julienned yellow pepper
  • 1 cup white chedder
  • 1 cup gouda
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
  • 6-8 medium flour tortillas
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 squeezed lemon
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • 1 small purple onion
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • a small handful of coriander chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp portuguese chicken spice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 218C (425F).  Saute the onions, jalapenos, and salt until softened and lightly brown.  Add the garlic, cumin, sugar, chili powder, paprika and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant.  Next add the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and let thicken for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and peppers and let cook for about 15 minutes.  In a bowl, stir together half the cheese and half the coriander.  Using a slatted spoon, carefully spoon out the chicken and onions and mix together with the cheese and coriander.  Spice the remaining sauce with a few dashes of salt and pepper and set aside.  Microwave the tortillas for approximately 20 seconds so that they are pliable.  Lightly grease a large deep pan.  One at a time, flatten the tortillas on a cutting board, spoon a line-full of the filling down the center of the tortilla, fold into a flute, carefully turn upside down, and gently place in the pan.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until the tortillas turn slightly golden.  Remove the enchiladas from the oven, pour the sauce all over them, and top with lots of cheese.  Put back in the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.  You do not need to serve them with anything because they are incredibly awesome all on their own, but if you want you can add fresh coriander, gaucamole, sour cream, and salsa.

Kristen made scrumptious guacamole to accompany the enchiladas.  In a bowl, she mixed together the avos, lemon juice, jalapenos, onion, tomatoes, coriander, salt and pepper until blended but still a bit chunky.  Also, to jazz up the guac, I sometimes add cumin, portuguese chicken spice, and paprika.

Ty, Kristen, and Thomas gettin' ready to chow down on my enchiladas

A Seafood Story


Although I grew up on the East Coast, my sister and I loathed seafood.  I blame my parents because they didn’t expose us, being Jewish because Jews don’t eat shell fish, and seafood itself because sometimes it is smelly and chewy.  All of these factors combined produced an unwarranted prejudice against creatures of the sea.

Dullstroom Trout 2010

When I first moved to Cape Town, I desperately needed a job and kharma landed me a job at a seafood restaurant.  On a daily basis I had to handle seafood, sell it, and hear my customers rave about it, which disgusted me at first but wore me down until I finally gave in and tried white fish.  Incorporating seafood into my eating repertoire is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my tastebuds; it is the ultimate food lover’s food-gasm!  In an attempt to make up for lost time, I eat seafood whenever I can, especially prawns, and still cannot believe I lived so long without it.

Recently I started exploring the joys of cooking seafood at home.  Last year Jacquie (my cooking buddy) and I made paella for Darren (her husband) and Ty.  Having never made it before, we clumsily went for it adding copious amounts of everything, and ended up with paella flowing out of our ears.  Luckily it was delicious because it proceeded to sustain us for quite a few days thereafter.

This year, we decided to refine our recipe and put a bit more finesse into it.

K&J’s Paella (serves 4 + some leftovers)

Ingredients

For the seafood

  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 tbl oil
  • 2 tbl margarine
  • 500g calamari
  • about 20-30 jumbo prawns (de-headed and de-vained)
  • 6 sliced crab sticks
  • 4 sliced chorizo sausages
  • 2 tsp salt
  • lots of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbl paprika
  • 1 tbl portugese chicken spice
  • 1 tbl garlic powder
  • 1-2 squeezed lemons
  • 2 cups white wine

For the veggies

  • 2 sliced onions
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • 1 julienned red pepper
  • 1 julienned yellow pepper
  • 250g chopped brown mushrooms

For the rice

  • 1 ½ cup jasmine rice
  • 1 tbl turmeric
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • few dashes of salt

Instructions

Cook the jasmine rice in chicken stock, turmeric, and salt for about 25 minutes.  While the rice is cooking, in a large wok, sauté the garlic in margarine and oil.  Add the seafood, chorizo, and spices, and sauté on high for a few minutes until fragrant.  Next add the white wine and lemon juice.  Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to medium heat for about 10 minutes. At the same time while cooking the seafood, but in another pan, sauté the onions and garlic in oil until golden.  Then add the veggies and a dash of salt and pepper.  Once the veggies are partially cooked, add them to the seafood.  Stir and let the paella simmer for a few more minutes.  Spoon copious amounts of paella on top of the rice and enjoy with a glass of white wine and great company!

Our Yearly Paella Parties

Traditional & Non-Traditional Bobotie


Although Table Mountain is  one of the “New Seven Wonders of Nature”, Bobotie is in actuality the true Wonder of South Africa. This traditional South African dish, pronounced “bu-booah-tea”, is deeply rooted in South African history and my kitchen.

Traditional Bobotie (http://www.kitchen-boy.net)

“BOBOTIE: SOUTH AFRICA’S INDIGENOUS CUISINE”

By JOSEPH LELYVELD
Published in the New York Times on December 20, 1981
“Food had almost everything to do with the fateful or, as many of their countrymen might now view it, baleful decision of white men to establish themselves in the city that is known today as Cape Town, at the tip of the African continent. In the beginning – that means 329 years ago – the Dutch East India Company was not at all interested in colonizing the Cape of Good Hope, only in setting up the 17th-century equivalent of a truck stop there for its Java-bound ships.

Within months the company’s men had their kitchen gardens under cultivation; within a couple of years, their first vineyard. The ships that called at Cape Town on their way back to Holland from what is now Indonesia started depositing spices and, a little later, Malay-speaking slaves to work in the kitchens of the whites. Thus, almost from the start the ingredients were on hand not only for racial conflict but a distinctive cuisine, blending Eastern and Western influences. That, in short, is how bobotie was born – but more of that later.

When the British took over the Cape in 1806, this native cuisine was very nearly driven underground. ”One of the most depressing factors of eating in southern Africa,” Laurens van der Post, the writer, remarked, recalling his childhood, ”is the complete absence of our national dishes from the menus of hotels, restaurants and trains.” Yet until the apartheid era, these dishes survived on Cape Town’s side streets in Malay ”cook-shops” specializing in ”kerriekerrie” (curry in Afrikaans).

With the increasingly strict application of the country’s racial codes, the only truly indigenous cuisine was forced to retreat even further into the segregated residences of white and brown South Africans, becoming steadily less accessible to visitors. The ”slegs blankes” – whites only – restaurant scene was then dominated by immigrants from Italy, Greece and Spain – who found it profitable to serve a pretentious, lethally rich ”international” cuisine that systematically violated the best food traditions of guests and hosts alike.

Now, finally, the cultural if not the political pendulum has started to swing, to the point that it is regarded as somewhat fashionable rather than boorish to put authentic South African dishes on South African menus. As a result, the Malay influence is out in the open again and a good plate of bobotie is relatively easy to find.”

Bobotie is one of my favorite meals of all time and whenever I cook for friends it is my go-to classic.  The seemingly strange yet complimentary ingredients create an explosion of flavors that make all people, no matter what their food preference, food-gasm.

The ratios within Royco’s Traditional Bobotie packet are perfect and it requires minimal effort on a lazy night.  In addition, I always add a few dashes of sugar and a few more dollops of chutney.

On special occasions I cook Bobotie From Scratch

This recipe serves 4

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tumeric
  • 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • about 500g minced beef (or minced lamb which is rich and awesome)
  • 1 slice of white bread soaked in milk
  • 200 ml milk
  • 50 ml water
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp Mrs. Ball’s Chutney
  • 1 cup rice

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).  Sautee the onions in a small amount of oil until golden, add the spices, and stir for a minute or so until fragrant.  Add the mince and cook until browned. Next add the milk, water, vinegar, raisins, and chutney.  Break up the milk-soaked bread into pieces and add to the mixture.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the mixture simmer and thicken for about 15 minutes.  Pour the mixture into a deep oven proof pan.  In a bowl, beat together the eggs and about 3 tbsp of the leftover milk from the soaked bread. Pour an even egg layer over the mixture.  Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes or until the egg layer is fully cooked and has turned a nice golden brown.  Serve the bobotie with rice and voila!

For a non-traditional flare, try my Non-Traditional Bobotie Stuffed Peppers

Follow the bobotie recipe as described above except only use about 150 ml milk and 50 ml water.  Cut off the tops, clean out, and lightly oil four peppers (I bet red peppers would be even more awesome than green).  Sprinkle some salt and pepper inside the pepper-shells.  Next spoon layers of rice, bobotie, and egg into each shell.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the peppers are nice and soft.

My successful first attempt at making non-traditional Bobotie stuffed peppers

Additional non-traditional Bobotie variations that are delicious:

  • Bobotie pasta – serve over pasta instead of rice and omit the eggs
  • Chicken bobotie – use chicken instead of minced beef
  • Bobotie burgers – mix onion, garlic, spices, vinegar, chutney, and 2 eggs with raw minced beef. omit the raisins, milk, and water. form into patties and either braai (South African colloquialism for barbeque) or grill in a pan to desired done-ness.  serve on burger buns with lettuce and tomato.

I’m hungry


My name is Kim and I am an American living in Cape Town, South Africa.

A view of Lion's Head and Signal Hill after an excruciating hike up Table Mountain

I arrived in South Africa on a study abroad program in 2008 and fell in love with the country as well as a man named Tyrone (pronounced Tyran).  Four years later, here I am in South Africa, smitten in my tiny apartment with a barely-there yet perfect kitchen, a small garden, and my Ty.  When I am not cooking or eating, I am studying towards my Master’s in Public Health at University of Cape Town and am honing in on my skills as a Research Assistant at a local research centre.

My Ty and I in Kruger Park

Growing up I lived off of all things unhealthy and easy to cook – Kraft mac n’ cheese, Ramen noodles (AKA two-minute noodles for you South Africans), Chinese food, and frozen pizza bagels – and was a chunker because of it!  My dad and stepmom slowly taught me the pleasures of cooking – the chopping, chatting, spicing, and smells– and most importantly, the beautiful tradition of family dinner.  My mom is my going-out-to-eat partner and I presume is the one who gave me the always-wanting-to-go-out-to-eat genes.  My sister, who is 5 years older than me, let me spend time cooking with her under the condition that I peel her garlic. And Ty taught me how to cook the meanest mince and spaghetti dinner with his secret ingredient Portuguese Chicken Spice …I have some amazing food memories that have resonated in my mind, which I will share with you as time goes on.

As soon as I wake up I begin thinking about food.  After breakfast, I am thinking about what I am going to make for lunch, and after lunch, I am thinking about what I am going to make for dinner, and after dinner, I am thinking about what I am going to make the following day.  I don’t food plan for the week and tend not to write shopping lists but rather am all about buying a plethora of random ingredients and figuring out what fun dishes I can make.  Cooking in my little kitchen soothes my soul and enables me to express myself.  To me, food is not just a basic life necessity but also one of the greatest pleasures in life.  I love to cook because I love to eat but nothing brings me greater joy than cooking for my friends and family and listening to their “food-gasms” as they dig in to one of my creations.

Me at an Indian Food cooking course

It is important that your taste buds are able to express themselves and an amazing meal enables them to do so.  The perfect blend of aromatic flavors will elicit a tongue tantalizing, tastebud teasing, moreish “food-gasm” and I rate the success of my meals by measuring their magnitude.

Despite my limited pallet growing up, I have become extremely adventurous in my eating and am eager to try any and all types of foods, especially local cuisines, which is how the name of my blog came to be.  A work colleague of mine took me to a township café and I bravely ordered tripe because I had never tried it before.  My friend dug in, slurping up the smelly, squidgy, multicolored grey, towel-material casings swimming in pale soup, and then, with a huge smile on his face, scooped up a spoonful for me to try.  I took a deep breath and as that spoonful fell into my mouth, I immediately had to pray to the food gods and center my chi in order to swallow.  And ever since, I vow to eat all things except for tripe.

Tripe