This week marks the start of International Dining Week, an event which celebrates the fantastic diversity of cuisines available to diners in Britain.
Given the food we make here in the SK kitchen covers everything from haggis bites for our friends north of the border through to hand-folded samosas that wouldn’t look out of place if eaten in a restaurant in Calcutta, this is something we are very much supporters of.
International Dining Week has this year widened its focus to dining in. We all love eating out, of course we do, but with so many fantastic ingredients now available, and more and more people cooking at home, there’s never been a better time to try something different.
During International Dining Week, each day is being dedicated to a certain type of cuisine, so we thought we would use this to let you know about some of our favourite dishes from around the world.
19th April – Spanish and Mexican
There’s an obvious, historical connection between foods from these two countries, but we admit that as Tex Mex is one of our specialities, we would always tend to plump for Mexican if for no other reason we like heat in our food. That’s not to say Spanish cuisine isn’t great, because it is. After all, the country that gave us chorizo can’t be doing much wrong.
But, it’s to the west that we look for our inspiration. You may associate Mexican with burritos, fajitas and chilli, all of which are great and easy to make, but Mexican cuisine is as complex as any other food across the world.
For something different try making a Mole, a rich sauce containing over 20 different ingredients, including one or more varieties of chilli, Pozole, a soup made from hominy corn with plenty of herbs and spices, or Tamales, which are pockets of dough stuffed with either a sweet or savoury filling, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
20th April: Caribbean/Cajun
We are unsure why the organisers of International Dining Week have combined Caribbean and Cajun cuisine because they are very different, but they have one thing in common and that is there are delicious.
Goat is supposed to be the ‘new’ meat of 2016 so try a goat curry. Goat has the same texture has beef so it’s important to cook it slowly in strong spices so its lovely and tender. It’s a Jamaican classis and if you are bot confident cooking it yourself, there’s plenty of restaurants that make this dish. We had one at Verna’s Pepper Shack whilst on holiday in Brixham, Devon, recently and it was amazing.
Cajun cuisine is a style of cooking associated with the Deep South of the USA. Shrimp (prawn) and pork are two staples and green peppers, onions and celery are called the holy trinity by Cajun chefs, so stick to this and you can’t go wrong. One of our guilty pleasures is a Po’ boy sandwich. There are different versions but the one we like best is fried shrimp serves in French bread with mustard.
21st April – Thai/Malaysian
These two definitely go together. When you mention Thai food, you think of red or green curries, but we like to try something different so how about Laap, which is minced meat seasoned with roasted rice powder, lime juice, fish sauce and herbs, or Khao Phat, which is rice fried with hearty chunks of crab and egg.
Outside the big cities you don’t see many Malaysian restaurants in the UK, but you can always try your local Wagamama and sample dishes such as Beef Rendang, a slow cooked dry curry spiced with ginger, turmeric, kaffir lime leaves and chillies or Nasi Goreng, a which is the Malay version of stir fried rice, but with a fried egg on top – delicious!
22nd April – Japanese/Vietnam/Korean
Japanese cuisine speaks for itself, sushi anyone? But Vietnamese and Korean cuisine is a little different. 2016 is supposed to be the year when Korean food makes it big in the UK and whilst we confess to not noticing it just yet, we certainly hope it does happen because the food is great.
If you order Korean food in restaurant chances are that it will come with Kimchi, which is a traditional dish made of seasoned vegetables and salt. Koreans eat it at nearly every meal. Also look out for Galbijim, braised beef short rib casserole, Tangsuyuk, sweet and sour pork or beef and Dakdoritang, braised chicken with potatoes and spices. You may need a stronger stomach to try Gopchang Jeongol, beef intestine and tripe stew, or Jokbal, seasoned pork trotters.
23rd April – Chinese
There’s not much more to say about Chinese food that people don’t already know and as it’s one of the staples in the SK kitchen it’s fair to say we are a little biased when it comes to this food. But as we have been looking at different, more traditional dishes from each country, there’s probably a few things you haven’t tried at your local Chinese restaurant. We’re talking about mutton stew served with bread rather than noodles (to soak up the rich sauce), yak meat dumplings and spinach noodles in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with egg, potatoes, carrots, beef and chilli.
24th April – Italian
We don’t think many people would argue that this remains one of the best cuisines in the world. We think it is because it appeals to everyone. Getting young children to try foods from different countries can be difficult, but put a pizza or a bowl of pasta in front of them and it’s a different story.
Straying again into the little different (you need to test your taste buds every once in a while), try Bottarga. Known as poor man’s caviar, this is a Sicilian and Sardinian recipe made from the roe pouch of tuna, grey mullet or swordfish. If that’s a bit much, go for a breakfast frittata, which uses pasta with the eggs, along with sausage, red pepper, onion and cheese.
So, use International Dining Week as an excuse (not that you should need one) to eat food from across the world and if you can try something a little different. We would love to know what you think about beef intestine and trip stew!