Monday, March 4, 2013

Fiji

Fiji_Dawn
Photo courtesy of user Patty3m on Flickr
Location: Oceania, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Area: Over 18,000 sq km; 157th largest in the world
          Slightly smaller than New Jersey
Geography: 332 islands, about 110 are inhabited
Population: Almost 900,000; 161st largest in the world
Background: Fiji has had several coups and leadership changes since 1970 when British rule ended.  Their current prime minister refuses to hold elections.
Capital: Suva
Military: Large armed forces for a country of their size.  Major contributor to UN peacekeeping missions

Sources: CIA World Factbook, Wikipedia

The problem with me doing an island nation is just that - they are an island nation.  What are they surrounded by?  Water.  What is in the water?  Seafood.  What don't I like?  Seafood.  With that in mind, I was able to find some non-fishy Fijian recipes.  I can't guarantee their authenticity, but it seemed legit with some of the research that I did.  Their culture is very eclectic, and therefore their food has some of the same influences.

First, I found a recipe for Fijian Chicken Wings.  There were just enough unique things in there to make it seem worth it.  I also picked a Pineapple and Sweet Potato Bake.  It sounded interesting and like a combination I wouldn't normally try.  Plus, Brendan was just starting solids and sweet potatoes are a good early food.

We took a family trip to the grocery store to get everything we needed.  I previously had problems finding coconut cream, so I wasn't too surprised when that was a bust.  Instead, I read somewhere that you could put coconut milk in the fridge and try to let it separate, so I went with that approach.

I told Kevin I was starting the pineapple and sweet potato bake and I got this reaction: "Wait, that pineapple was for today?"  Apparently the one he picked wasn't ripe yet.  At all.  So one dish is a non-starter.  I decided to just bake the sweet potatoes instead.
The wings are really simple.  Blend/process everything together except for the chicken.
The separating didn't so much happen.
The hardest part was separating the wings.  It is a task I am not too fond of.  There is a lot of cutting, pulling, and twisting involved.
This is how they start.
This is how they end.
You marinate the chicken and let it sit.  I don't actually remember, but I am pretty sure I did not do the recommended 2 hours.
I think it was the brown sugar that really made the texture interesting.
Then cook!  Yay!  Really, that was it.  I don't know what else to tell you...


As you can see in the above pictures, the marinade stuck to some part of the chicken really well, but not others.  Overall it was...okay.  Just fine.  No particular complaints, but nothing to write home about.  Maybe coconut cream would make a difference...I don't know.  I thought cardamom plus some of the other things in there would make it more interesting.

A few weeks later, Kevin and I were walking around Trader Joe's.  There, lo and behold, was a can of coconut cream!  We bought it figuring it would come up in a recipe again.  Which means that it will probably not.

But if you are craving some wings, this is certainly one way to go.

Also, I was going to make the sweet potato and pineapple dish later.  Then the pineapple went from being not ripe to being rotten.  I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

Next time: Finland