8 Foreign Dishes to Master Abroad
Bouillabaisse in France
Bouillabaisse, a French stew, was created in the port city of Marseille. The soup contains a variety of fish and shellfish, along with leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes, and is seasoned with garlic and saffron.
Variations exist among families, but most agree that traditional bouillabaisse contains scorpion fish, sea robin, and conger. Shellfish used often includes sea urchins, mussels, spider crab, and octopus. Bouillabaisse is best prepared and served in large portions, making it a perfect dish for family gatherings.
(Related: Great Cooking Classes in France)
Clean and scale 9 pounds of fish, including sea robin, scorpion fish, gurnard, conger, monkfish, John Dory, and 10 sea urchins (substitute the fish with what you can find at your local market). Cut the fish into large pieces with the bone in and wash the octopus and cut it into pieces. Put 1 cup of olive oil in a large casserole dish and add 3 sliced onions, 6 crushed cloves of garlic, the pieces of octopus, and 5 seeded, peeled, and quartered tomatoes. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the sliced fish, starting with the largest pieces. Cover with boiling water; add salt and cayenne pepper, 1 branch of fennel, a bouquet of garni, and 8 pistils of saffron. Boil at a low heat, stirring occasionally until done, which is when the cooking juice blends with the oil and the water (about 20 minutes). Mix 2 cloves of crushed garlic with 1 egg yolk and 10 pistils of saffron, and then blend with olive oil little by little to make a mayonnaise and then add to the broth.
Boil 2 pounds of peeled and sliced potatoes for 20 minutes in salted water. Add the sea urchins into the broth and then serve it in a side bowl. Remove the fish from the broth and serve it and the potatoes on a separate platter.
Paella in Spain
Paella was created near Valencia, where it was made with rice, vegetables, meat, snails, beans, and seasoning. Paella’s popularity has spread throughout Spain and now you can find it at restaurants around the country.
Regional variations exist and many people substitute fresh seafood for the meat and snails or use both meat and fish to create mixed paella. It’s an easy dish to make for a big group. Substitute fish available in your area and serve with Spanish white wine or sangria.
Heat ¾ of a cup of olive oil in a paella pan (or large sauté pan) over medium to high heat. Lightly fry 24 ounces of cut monkfish and then transfer to a platter. Fry a chile pepper and a slice of bread in the oil and then mash then together with a mortar and pestle to make a paste. Sauté 5 cloves of minced garlic and 2 skinned, seeded, and chopped tomatoes, and then add ¼ cup of oil and 2 cups of bomba rice. Put the monkfish on top, add 4 cups of fish stock, the mashed chile and bread paste, and ¼ teaspoon of saffron. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often.
Add 1 pound of shrimp and 1 pound of mussels. Cook another 5 minutes, or until shrimp is pink, mussels have opened (discard any that do not open), the rice is tender, and all the liquid has been absorbed.
Shepherd’s Pie in England
An English meat pie topped with mashed potatoes, Shepherd’s Pie is also called Cottage Pie. The dish originated in rural areas of the country as an economical means of using up leftover meat.
Traditional Shepherd’s Pies are made of cooked ground or diced meat (lamb, mutton, or beef) mixed with vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes, and then baked until a crust forms on the top. The perfect dish to warm and fill you on a cold winter’s night, Shepherd’s Pie is also cheap and easy to make, and of course goes well with a nice English ale.
Peel and quarter 2 pounds of potatoes and boil in salted water for 20 minutes. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan and sauté 1 chopped onion until tender. Add 1-2 total cups of carrots, corn, and peas and sauté with 1 ½ pounds of ground beef (or any leftover meats) until cooked. Add 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, half a cup of beef broth, and salt and pepper to taste.
Mash the potatoes with butter and season to taste. Place the beef and veggie mixture in a baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the mashed potato topping is beginning to brown.