Ok, I have a confession to make. Our next EAT THE WORLD adventure should have actually been Malawi. No lies. We clicked pick co-ordinates on my laptop, and the pin dropped smack into the middle of Malawi. Land of a great lake and wildlife a plenty! I pumped my first and giggled with glee - another African country - Oh yeah! The Traveling Ninja was not as enthused. He knew it was going to mean food that he was not familiar with, and he had also had his heart set on some more well-known countries. I immediately set to task figuring out what to make.... And this is when our first pit fall arrived. The national dish of Malawi was just so difficult to make! Nshima is apparently the national dish, and to my readers back home in South Africa, it sounds similar to 'pap' or 'samp'. However, it involved, according to the websites I looked at, copious arm strength and time paddling corn meal in a massive pot over a fire. For week three, this may have been over-reaching!
So the Traveling Ninja offered a solution - we select the same way he and his roommate play Fifa. We select three random countries, and if we can't decide on one of those, we have to pick the fourth - the suicide option. Well, this method worked out pretty well for the Traveling Ninja. The first of three rounds was.... drum roll.. AUSTRALIA! We did not really have to go any further, considering shrimp on the barbie was a meal the TN had been talking about for a couple of weeks now. So Australia it was!
The TN had his heart set on a the "shrimp on the barbie". You know that in Australia they don't call it shrimp? It's called prawns - what we call it in South Africa too. The whole "shrimp on the barbie" phrase was coined in relation to some ancient movie about an American in Australia. Upon discovering this, I felt we definitely needed another dish to ensure our Aussie delight meal was as authentic as possible. I quickly took to Facebook to ask my numerous Australian friends I had met on Contiki what was the most Australian meal to make.
The front runners were pies, steak, and veggie mite. Veggie mite is something I've often heard Australians crave while traveling. It's very similar to Marmite and Bovril. What I found really interesting however, was that many of the dishes that were very Australian, were also very English. Meat pies, steak and chips, bubble and squeak, chicken parmy etc are decidedly English. With Australia being an old English colony, I'm not surprised really, but thought it interesting that it was such a strong influence. I would have loved to be able to make traditional Aboriginal meals too!
Shrimp on the barbie was a certainty for the TN, but I also wanted to make the pies. I've never made pies before, so it was certainly going to be an interesting evening! Especially as our weekend turned out to be way more hectic and busy than we anticipated! We also didn't own a grill. And Alabama was playing. #Rolltide and what not. The TN was also working all weekend. Chaos indeed! Somehow we made it work though.
AUSSIE MEAL RECIPES
adapted from Australian Food.com
Shrimp on the Barbie
- 1/2 cup of butter, melted
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup of parsley and thyme
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 1.5 lb of shrimp (unpeeled/deveined).
- Combine all the ingredients except the shrimp in a large bowl. Mix together.
- Mix the shrimp into the mixture and let it marinade for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Get your barbecue ready. We got a coal fire grill on sale at Target! Use medium hot coals for the grilling
- Squish your shrimp onto the skewer. We did four onto one, as our skewers were kind of small.
- Grill until opaque, around 2 minutes on each side.
Mini Meat Pies
- 4 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
- 4 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 1.1 lbs of ground beef
- 2 tablespoon of plain flour
- 1/3 cup of tomoato sauce (KETCHUP says the TN)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/4 cups beef stock
- 2 tablespoons of parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper
- Saute the chopped onion in the extra virgin olive oil until translucent.
- Combine the ground beef with the onion and cook until the mince is brown.
- Sprinkle the flour over the meat and cook for another minute.
- Add the ketchup, beef stock and Worchestershire sauce.
- Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add parsley and season with salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Preheat your oven to 390 degrees F ( 220 degrees C)
- Grease your muffin tray.
- Cut out circles from the shortcrust pastry. They must be large enough to line the cups of your tray (I used a large muffin tray).
- Fill the pastry with the meat.
- Cut out circles from the puff pastry. They must be large enough to cover the pies and crimp together with the shortcrust pastry.
- Brush the edges of the pie with water, and then cover the pies by crimping the edges together.
- Make a small cross in the center of the pie with a sharp knife, and then brush with the beaten egg.
- Bake the pies for ten minutes.
- Reduce the oven's tempearture to 350 degrees F (200 degrees C) and bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown.
EAT THE WORLD AUSTRALIA VERDICT
Well, it may be more helpful to indicate what I did wrong here, rather than what I thought was great. I clearly have never made pies before. And my first attempt at pies was not pretty. Majority of my pies would not lift properly out of their little muffin tins. Perhaps they wanted to be muffins instead. But most of them began to crumble as soon as I tried to pull them out. After writing up this recipe, I am now more understanding of why.
First of all, I brushed water onto the pie's "lid" as such, and then tried to squish and squeeze it onto the walls of the pie. You're supposed to water the edges, and then put the lid, not the other way around. Hence why my pies look somewhat more like cups with pastry lids on them. One pie also did not survive. It decided to fall apart.
These pies were also super rich. I mean, crazily so. Why? Because I put in two whole beef stock cubes. Not 1 and a half. And on top of that, instead of mixing the cubes with water - you know how you are supposed to - I just threw them into the pot. Yeah, I'm not the brightest of cooks in the kitchen. Maybe I should stick to traveling?
The Traveling Ninja's prawns however, were delicious and yummy. So much so that he ate nearly all of them. We estimated that it may have been 40 prawns... Needless to say, he had a bit of a tummy ache after that!
AUSTRALIA MOVIE PAIRING: MAD MAX FURY ROAD
The Traveling Ginger Rating 7/10
Apart from all the chaos and mishaps, the pies and the shrimps were pretty delicious. I don't know if I would like to eat the pies regularly the way I made them, but they were pretty good. The shrimps were also delicious! I really enjoyed them.
The Traveling Ninja Rating 7.5/10
Crikey! So glad I decided to head Outback and grill a few shrimp on the barbie!
Have you been to Australia? What did you eat there? If you're Australian, what's your favorite Aussie meal?