Ecuador

Ecuador or “the Republic of the Equator” is in northwest South America and includes the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, 500 miles west of the mainland. It is known for its rich ecology, hosting many endemic plants and animals. There are 18 main islands in the Galápagos home to many unique species, most famous are the giant tortoises after which the islands are named (‘galapago’ means tortoise in Spanish), the marine iguana lizard and the Galapagos penguin, one of the smallest penguins in the world.

A few other interesting facts:
According to the CIA factbook because the earth is not a perfect sphere and has an equatorial bulge, the highest point on the planet closest to the sun is Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, not Mount Everest, which is merely the highest peak above sea level. It is 1.5 miles higher than Everest.
Quito is the highest capital on Earth at 2,850m above sea level
The Galapagos Islands and the city of Quito were the first 2 sites on the list of Unesco World Heritage sites
Ecuador is the leading exporter of Bananas accounting for approximately 29%
Oil accounts for over half of Ecuador’s export earnings

Some popular Ecuadorian dishes include Locro de Papas (potato soup), Llapingachos (Potato cakes served with eggs, avocado, chorizo), Seco de Chivo (goat stew), Hornado (roast pig), Encocado de Camarones (prawns in coconut milk) and Patacone (fried green plantains stuffed in pancake). I made Cebiche Guayaquileño (raw prawns cured with lemon) which had a wonderfully sweet and zingy flavour. Lovely on a hot summer’s day!

Rating: 9/10

Serves: 2
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

200g raw prawns with shells and no heads
2 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic
1 spring onion, roughly chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 large tomato, deseeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, sliced in half moons
Juice of 1/2 lemon for the onions
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1& 1/2 lemons
1/3 cup of prawn stock (see below for preparation) or 1/2 fish stock cube
1/4 cup ketchup
fresh coriander, chopped

In a pan combine the water, bay leaf, garlic, spring onions and prawns. Turn the heat to medium and cook the prawns until you see them beginning to turn pink, about 3 minutes
Turn off the heat and remove the prawns from the water. Keep this water
Peel and devein the prawns saving the prawns shells.
(I used raw prawns that didn’t have shells on so I added 1/2 fish stock cube to the water instead of the shells)
Put the prawn shells back in the water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and strain the prawn stock
In a small bowl, combine the onions with juice of 1/2 lemon and a pinch of salt. Marinate for 15 minutes
In medium bowl combine the diced tomatoes, prawns, onions, ketchup, lemon and orange juices and 1/3 cup of prawn stock
Mix all the ingredients and adjust seasonings as necessary. Add the chopped cilantro and stir it into the ceviche
Chill for about an hour in the fridge and serve

IMG_1061
Ingredients for Cebiche Guayaquileño
IMG_1063
Cebiche Guayaquileño
Quito Ecuador
Quito Ecuador
Chimborazo Ecuador
Chimborazo Ecuador
Sunset in the Galapagos
Sunset in the Galapagos
Marine iguana lizard Galapagos
Marine iguanas Galapagos
IMG_1085
Cebiche Guayaquileño
Advertisements

Malaysia

This is the 99th country I’ve cooked, so I’m officially half way through my challenge.

Malaysia is made up of Peninsula Malaysia and part of the island of Borneo, East Malaysia. Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore, as well as Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo, joined the Federation of Malaya. Singapore withdrew from the federation in 1965. The country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural with half the population ethnically Malay and large minorities of Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Indians, and indigenous people.

The Strait of Malacca, lying between Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia, is one of the most important thoroughfares in global commerce, carrying 40 per cent of the world’s trade. Over 94,000 vessels pass through the strait each year. Piracy has been a problem with 25 attacks on vessels in 1994, 220 in 2000, and just over 150 in 2003 (a third of the global total). Regional navies stepped up their patrols of the area in July 2004 and attacks dropped to 79 in 2005 and 50 in 2006.

Sarawak contains the Mulu Caves, the largest cave system in the world, in the Gunung Mulu National Park. The Sarawak Chamber is 700 m (2,300 ft)) long, 396 m (1,299 ft) wide and at least 70 m (230 ft) high. It has been said that the chamber is so big that it could accommodate about 40 Boeing 747s, without overlapping their wings.

About two thirds of Malaysia is covered in forest, with some believed to be 130 million years old. The forests of East Malaysia are estimated to be the habitat of around 2,000 tree species, and are one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.

A few other interesting facts:
In 2015, Malaysia ranked in fourth position on the World’s Best Retirement Havens
The Borneo Island which is made up of Sabah and Sarawak, Brunei and Indonesia is the third largest island in the world, after Greenland and New Guinea
The largest roundabout in the world is located at Putrajaya, Malaysia and is 3.5km in diameter
According to a survey in 2010, Malaysians had the largest number of friends on Facebook, with an average of 233
The orang utans of Malaysia have arms that are unusually long, almost one and half times longer than their legs

Malaysian cuisine is a melange of traditions from its Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and ethnic Bornean citizens. Malaysia shares culinary ties with Singapore and Indonesia and versions of dishes such as laksa, satay and rendang are shared. These are a few recipes I came across from the huge array I researched; Asam laksa (spicy mackerel noodle soup), Char kuey teow (stir fried noodles), nasi lemak (fragrant rice), Bak Kut Teh (pork rib soup) and Kuih dadar (sweet crepe). I made Sambal Udang (Sambal Prawns) which were vibrant and flavoursome.

Rating: 8/10

Serves: 2
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 5-7 minutes

For the belacan sambal paste
1 tsp shrimp paste (available at tesco)
2 red jalapeno chilli peppers, seeds removed and chopped
2 red birdseye chillies, seeds removed and chopped
Juice from 1 lime

For the sambal udang
16 peeled raw king prawns
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 & 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste (available at tesco)
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 & 1/2 cups water
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp caster sugar

For the belacan sambal paste
Put the shrimp paste and chillies into a pestle and mortar and pound to a paste or you can use a mini food processor
Put the paste in a glass jar and squeeze in the lime juice and shake well.

Heat up the oil in a wok. Add the sambal paste and stir-fry until aromatic, about 2 minutes
Add the prawns and continue to stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes
Add in the water, tamarind paste and bring it to a quick boil
Add in the kaffir lime leaves, salt, and sugar and continue to cook for 2 minutes
Serve with steamed rice

IMG_0634
Ingredients for Sambal Udang (Sambal Prawns)
IMG_0636
Sambal paste
IMG_0638
Sambal Udang (Sambal Prawns)
IMG_0643
Sambal Udang (Sambal Prawns)
Malaysian orang utan
Malaysia orang utans
Malacca strait
Police patrolling the Malacca strait