June 14, 2010

6/14: Netherlands v Denmark, Cameroon v Japan

I'm rather enthused at how easy today's menu came together, despite the daunting cuisines that represent today's match countries. Completely unfamiliar with the foods of any of these countries, save for my experiences with restaurant sushi, I was elated when my research revealed a few obvious ways in which their national dishes would compliment one another.
Since the old-fashioned Dutch dinner consists of one simple course, usually involving a large portion of potatoes, this seemed an easy place to start. The mashed potatoes, when mixed with some vegetables or meat, are called a stamppot, a word I am rather fond of. However, I'm not nearly as fond of stamppot as I am of the traditional Danish dish, Burning Love, or Brændende Kærlighed (though I still prefer the South African trainsmash). The Danish, as it turns out, are also quite fond of potatoes. To provide an example of the exalted status of the potato in Danish culture, one has only to look at the popular saying, "Jeg er en heldig kartoffel!" (I am a lucky potato!). 

This dish, essentially extra fattening mashed potatoes, seems to be the Danish equivelant of a stamppot. Since I felt it needed a bit more Dutch-isizing, I decided to melt some gouda on top, turning it into an almost Shepherd's Pie like dish (let's hope they play England so I can do it again!) The most renowned Dutch food by all means, is Gouda, which can be spiced up with the flavors of clove, cumin, caraway, or nettles. 
While integrating the cuisines of West Africa and Japan initially posed a challenge, I quickly found a popular Cameroonian dish that would go great with a Japanese sauce! Fufu, a dumpling made from pounded starch such as yam or yuca (cassava), is a staple dish throughout West Africa. In Cameroon, the fufu is called couscous by the French-speaking peoples and typically made from yuca. While the dish is traditionally prepared by pounding the cassava into a paste with a giant mortar and pestle, a food processor can also be used. I'm opting for my immersion blender, which I'll make sure to take whenever I hit up West Africa.
In general, the Cameroonian diet is characterized by bland, starchy foods that are eaten with spicy (often very hot) sauces, so we're pretty sure they would love the addition of wasabi! Throughout Latin America, yucu is served boiled with a spicy garlic sauce or chimichurri, so the addition of wasabi is sure to be delicious! 

Stamppot of Burning Love on Danish Rye
fufu Pictures, Images and Photos
Photo: media.avisen.dk
1 head of garlic, roasted and peeled
1 T olive oil
6 floury (Idaho) potatoes
10 strips bacon
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 C milk, 1% milk buttermilk
2 T butter, room temperature
~1/4 lb Gouda or other Dutch cheese
Danish Rye

Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters, then boil ~30 min. until tender. As the potatoes cook, cut bacon into small pieces and fry with chopped onion until bacon is crisp and onions are soft. Drain potatoes well and pat lightly with paper towels to dry. Mash the potatoes and combine with roasted garlic cloves, milk, and butter until smooth and creamy (a stand mixer with a whisk attachment is great for this). Spoon the potatoes into a bowl and top with the bacon and onion mixture. Grate desired amount of Gouda or Dutch cheese of choice and give it a few seconds in the microwave to melt.
Serve with or piled high on a slice of Danish rye bread.

Cameroonian Couscous À la Japonaise 
2  lbs (~4 large) yuca root
1 oz. Japanese wasabi
Soy sauce

Boil the roots for ~25 min. until soft and the skins cut easily. Drain the roots and peel thoroughly. The peel can be toxic, so take care in this step. Using a potato masher or hand mixer, mash the roots until completely smooth. Shape into tightly formed balls.
To prepare the sauce, mix a tiny amount of wasabi into a dish of soy sauce. Serve alongside the Couscous balls for dipping. Cameroonians prefer to pour their sauce of choice on the Couscous, but we've decided to serve the dish Japanese style - separate with a small dipping plate.

*Note: Real Wasabi is a rootthat is highly perishable and extremely pricey. If you're lucky, you can find it in powder form at a Japanese grocery for a reasonable price. Most of us will have to settle for the Americanized version, which is essentially just horseradish dyed green. It's still delicious and presents the flavor most of us are familiar with when eating sushi.

Prefer to eat out instead? Our Houston Dining Guide tells you where and why.


  1. Oh, I LIKE the couscous idea! I have my cassava in hand and am prepared to do something constructive with it.

  2. Do it! The cassava with wasabi is going to be a new staple but if you made the chimichurri from Argentina's game, it goes amazingly well with that!

  3. This is so awesome! I love the concept and will try to follow the recipes