Location: Southern Asia, between China and India
Area: Less than 40,000 sq km, 136th in the world
About half the size of Indiana
Name: Translates as Land of the Thunder Dragon, which refers to the violent storms from the Himalayas
Geography: Controls several key Himalayan passes
Population: Over 700,000; 164th in the world (consistent with the first modern census, not the government reported figures)
Median age: 24.2 years
Diplomacy: The US and Bhutan have no formal diplomatic relations
National Anthem: Translated, the title means "The Thunder Dragon Kingdom"
Labor: 4% unemployment rate, 35th in the world
Severe shortage of skilled labor
Happiness!: Business Week rated them the happiest country in Asia in 2006
Source: CIA World Factbook, Wikipedia
For Bhutan, it was very apparent that their national dish was emadatse, a combination of cheese and hot peppers. The problem was finding the "right" one. I understand that recipes have variations. How many different ways are there to make pasta sauce? However, some of these even varied in their base. One called for monterey jack cheese where another said feta. One said 12 chilies where another said four. Which one do I choose?
After consulting with Kevin, this was the recipe that made the cut. It felt more authentic than the others, possibly because it didn't say that it was "Americanized."
But seeing as that wasn't a full meal, I needed an entree as well. The goal was (1) see it in multiple places so I can reasonably find it authentic and (2) hopefully try something new. That led me to Pork Fing. Bean threads!
At the Commissary, the person at the meat counter recommended a picnic roast when I said I needed pork shoulder. They scoffed when I couldn't give them any more details. Other than that part, the initial instructions were pretty simple. I am starting to like my food processor more and more. It was very good with the onions and the tomatoes.
|Now I have just a little bit of this left and I don't know what to do with it.|
|A lot of butter tends to be a good sign of things to come.|
|I didn't realize at first that bean threads and cellophane noodles were the same thing.|
|It reminds me of a hay stack.|
|Then they get all gloopy.|
It was a nice day outside, so Kevin was enjoying the sun while the cats occasionally took time out from their mischief to look out the window.
|Shhhh, I'm hiding.|
|We had recently gone plant shopping with Maura, so now we are on our way to some fresh herbs!|
|Even some flowers as well.|
|Supercat, sprawled in the sun.|
|The peppers for both recipes...and this is even without the jalapenos.|
I can't remember what type of chilies we got. The Commissary didn't label them very well, so maybe I never knew...
|That is a LOT of peppers.|
|This is the one that was left in for quite a while. Ignore the mess in the background. There was a lot of chopping going on.|
Kevin doesn't like feta (weirdo), so blue it was. I also recruited him to help chop some cilantro.
|All mixed together. I didn't expect it to turn yellow.|
Holy crap, was that cheese spicy. I couldn't eat more than three or four bites. Tiny bites. With a lot of rice. Kevin really liked it though. He also couldn't eat a ton of it, but he has taken some for leftovers. We still have a lot left too.
I think I could like it if there were fewer chilies. In fact, I could almost guarantee it. Halve the number of chilies, make sure there is plenty of rice...it was actually almost like a queso. Mmmmm queso.
The pork was pretty bland and boring. The chilies in there didn't seem to do much. I think some spices could have really helped. As it was, it certainly was not the talk of the meal.
Did I get a similar result from the peppers as last time? No. Much, much worse.
I was really good about not rubbing my eyes. However, my fingers started burning constantly. At one point I used my knuckle to rub my eye. Knuckle. I did not de-seed the peppers with my knuckle. Grumble grumble. I spent the rest of the movie we were watching with a cold pack on my face. I had a hard time sleeping that nice because my fingers hurt. Taking out my contacts was incredibly painful.
The next day, my fingers still burned. I couldn't put in my contacts, so I wore glasses to work. It still hurt the day after that, but I made myself put my contacts on. It was awful.
All of this is to say buy gloves when you are cutting chilies. It is not worth it otherwise.
Heed my warning!
Next time: Bolivia