By Ola Mazzuca
Now home in Canada and back in school for another year, our favourite university journalism student has recently sent us her fourth installment in her Blasphemous Meals series, where she makes meals for her family taken out of the pages of the Bazillion Points book Hellbent for Cooking. Here are three more inspired meals that we here at Hellbound HQ wish we could have the chance to taste ourselves…
By A.C. Wild of Bulldozer
Upon my return from la Bel Paese, my interest in culinary pursuits is heightened like never before, ready for challenges in preparing international dishes full of exciting ingredients.
To be clear, Seafood Depot only carried frozen barracuda, and I was adamant on using fresh fish. Taking Annick’s advice for ingredient substitution, I chose Blue Marlin, which is similar in flavour and density.
A.C. Wild’s Spaghetti Barracuda became Spaghetti con Marlin e familia, which translates to “with Marlin and family”, as the vital ingredients came from some very special people in my life.
The three most important vegetables required for the meal consisted of tomatoes, garlic and red chili peppers to produce a supporting sauce for the bavettine, a slightly thicker pasta noodle.
If I have not noted in previous entries, I am of southern Italian descent. My roots are nestled in the regions of Puglia and Calabria – the former the toe and latter the heel of the boot. Both regions offer up a blend of signature cooking elements and spice – most notably in chili peppers.
I incorporated two large dried chili peppers from Calabria and two small dried chilis from the island of Sardinia, given to me by my friend Alessandro when I was studying in Urbino – not a short trip for those spicy things as they were grown in his grandfather’s garden!
The tomatoes were a gift from the garden of my Pugliese grandfather, Pasquale, straight from…Mississauga. Maybe not from the dirty south of Italia, but still super fresh from our Canadian summer climate.
Grown in my own backyard, the garlic bulbs were planted by my Calabrese father, who was given the gift of passion for cuisine by his father, Salvatore.
The blue marlin provided some bite in addition to its chili pepper “paesan” – a heavy dish of heat for some extreme skids – Italian or otherwise.
By Naz of Mantak
While working on The Urbino Project in Italy, I made a new friend and colleague in the world of journalism who hails from Singapore. We discussed many aspects of our contrasting cultures, yet surprisingly no conversations of cuisine come to mind.
I wish Kenneth had warned me of how challenging it is to make Nasi Lemak, the national dish of Malaysia, which is also consumed at breakfast in Singapore, wrapped in banana leaves and sold as street food.
The base of the dish consists of a prawn sambal; shrimps mixed with various spices, loads of onions and garlic (so much that the smell would not leave my hands for days), chili peppers, Thai ginger and sweet, fragrant tamarind paste. It is accompanied by, or placed atop a personal serving of coconut rice that is made by boiling long grain or Jasmine in a pot of coconut milk.
Most of the ingredients in Nasi Lemak are common in every household, yet the obscure stuff can be pretty hard to find if you don’t live in Toronto or the GTA where an abundance of Asian supermarkets are easily accessible.
Apart from tamarind paste and belacan, an oily sauce used to cook shrimp and seafood, the Pandam leaf was an ingredient I had not heard of or seen before. In Naz’s recipe, it is required to take one leaf, tie it in a knot and allow its flavour to integrate with the steamed rice for 10 to 15 minutes once boiled.
Though it may seem strange, it is not uncommon to cook food with items that are often inedible. Have you ever tried cedar-smoked salmon at a fancy restaurant? Well, it’s been cooked on a plank of cedar wood, giving it robust flavour and aroma.
I love the sharpness of Nasi Lemak, with its sight and smell not of this earth, leaving your stomach satisfied with the warmth of chili and abundance of rich taste.
Pizza Tonno a la Chef
By Schmier “The Mad Baker” of Destruction
Tuna as a pizza topping may seem like an absurd idea but the truth is that this fish is an absurdly popular addition on pizzeria menus in both Canada and Italy.
Tuna is to pizza as lox is to bagels: red onion, capers and cheese, providing that you swap Philadelphia cream for mozzarella or taleggio.
The thrash inspired recipe called for crème fraiche or sour cream, but I chose to add very few pieces of mozzarella instead to avoid a dairy-heavy taste.
To make a tuna pizza is rather simple so I made Schmier’s recipe my own, including two cans of light tuna in oil, mini capers infused with white wine vinegar, rings of red onion, and a mix between fresh, finely chopped red and green chili peppers.
My very awesome friend Kailah had the opportunity to put this hellbent meal to the test when she and her mother joined my family for a traditional Ital dinner, cooked in our outdoor oven. She loves food and culture just as much as I do, which made her an awesome colleague to study journalism with in Italy this summer.
The chili peppers were as tough as a drop kick, yet it all depends on where they ended up on your slice of pizza. Kailah quickly renounced her comment of “I think it could use more spice,” before coughing up a storm at her second bite. Sorry, dude!
I guess I really am Calabrese, cause there will never be enough peperoncino on my plate!
Star approved like it’s in the Entertainment & Living section of the T-Star, K? 😉