Ten years ago today, I was in labor all day with my daughter, Marisa. I was a little nervous since I was only 34 weeks along, but it turns out that even though she spent a few days in the NICU, everything turned out fine. And now, she’s a super smart, caring, compassionate, sometimes-stubborn, sassy, and independent tween girl. (She actually doesn’t turn 10 until 1:00 am tomorrow morning.) I still can’t believe my tiny bundle of joy is now three inches shorter than I am (which isn’t saying much—I’m only 5’ 1/2”). And so, we celebrate today with the food from one of the most difficult countries I’ve had to research: Kiribati.
|Clearly the winner here. I'd go get more, but I ate way to many earlier.|
I had the hardest time finding any kind of bread, cake, or pastry recipe online. I seemed to look everywhere, even on page 10 of a Google search, and no one ever goes that far into “barely what I actually searched for” land. You’d think for a country that was once controlled by the British there’d be something posted. But still, it was to no avail. So, I had to spread out my search a bit. The I-Kiribati people are ethnically related to the Micronesians, so I started there and came across this recipe for banana and peach doughnuts. I first drained a 15-oz can of peach slices. Then I peeled and smashed up three ripe bananas. I added in the peaches and kept smashing it all together until it was like thick baby food. Then I added in 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 c of flour to the fruit mix along with 5 tsp of sugar. I mixed this until everything was smooth. Then I heated up some vegetable oil in my deep-sided skillet, and when it was hot, I dropped in spoonfuls of the mixture and fried it. Once it started to turn brown, I made sure to turn it so that it would brown on the other side as well. I took them out and let them drain on paper towels. This was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I actually took a little bit of vanilla icing and thinned it down with some whole milk and poured it on top. Amazing! I can’t get over this. I suppose they’re more like fritters, but I think these would be good spread thin and made like pancakes. Totally worth the small oil splash burns. Totally worth it.
|OK, this had to be the biggest surprise of the day. I thought this was good.|
The one recipe that kept popping up page after page as far as true Kiribati recipes go is one called te bua toro ni baukin. I substituted several ready-made items to save time. The recipe calls for grated pumpkin, but I just used canned pumpkin instead, and poured the pumpkin in the bottom of my greased casserole dish. Instead of shredding a cabbage myself, I bought ready-made coleslaw mix (this one has grated carrots in it, I didn’t think it would matter; I usually buy angel hair coleslaw which is just the shredded cabbage). I added in the slaw mix to the pumpkin. Then I added flour, corned beef, powdered milk, and baking powder to the pumpkin and cabbage and mixed it all together. Next for the spices: a little salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Once everything was thoroughly mixed, then it went into a 350ºF oven for about 45 minutes. Although I really liked this, the kids weren’t so into it. I thought the flavor of the pumpkin was toned down after baking and it meshed well with the corned beef. The next time I make this, I would probably add another tin of corned beef, though. One tin’s worth kind of gets lost in the pumpkin. I’m not sure that I would serve this as a whole meal, but it would make a really good side dish nonetheless.
|I'm so glad I don't work in an office just so I can eat this for lunch tomorrow. If there's any left, that is.|
I also found a recipe for seafood adobo. It calls for a mixture of seafood (I went with frozen salad shrimp, canned chopped clams, and canned oysters), minced garlic, ground ginger, vinegar (I used a mix of white wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar), and soy sauce. I just sautéed this mix together until it was cooked thoroughly, and I served this on top of white rice. The oysters pretty much dominated the whole dish, but that’s ok. It was still good. I might go a little lighter on the vinegar next time, though.
|Overall, I'd say that this was pretty good. I was fairly impressed and am pretty full.|
Amazingly enough, this meal came together well. When I picked these recipes (mostly out of the fact it was all I could find), it seemed kind of a strange combination of dishes and ingredients. But in the end, it was pretty good. Even my husband—who HATES pumpkin with a passion like no other—thought the pumpkin dish was pretty good, but agreed that it needed more corned beef. I suppose it’s appropriate since fall is around the corner and pumpkin dishes are the in-thing now. I certainly learned a lot about this country, and perhaps maybe a few more people know where Kiribati is now. And as it gets colder, I can just close my eyes and pretend that I’m sitting on a beach on one of the islands sipping some drink and eating good food and just taking it all in. Until I open them again and realize I’m still in Indiana.
Up next: Kuwait