Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ireland - Polish food

It's funny how I started eating Polish food when I'm in Ireland. Well, it just happened that there was a groceries shop exclusively selling Polish food. The only Polish food I know was pierogi (which my American friend used to correct me because I said it wrong; she said it should be "puh-ro-gi" but later on Google Translate I proved myself pronouncing it correctly back then).

I looked around the shop and found so many things I don't recognize, and not all of them have English translation on the packaging. The funny thing I noticed about the names of Polish food is the abundance of the letter 'z'.

Koreczki sledziowe - marinated fillet of herring according to Google Translate
The herring fillets are submerged in chili oil and onion cuts. I asked the lady at the counter how they eat this, and she said just eat it as it is, and for each bite of the herring, drink 1 shot of vodka. Later on, my Polish friend reconfirmed this truth for me. 

Pyzy z miesem - dumplings with meat according to Google Translate
My Polish friend said there is no direct translation for these, so I guess dumplings would be of somewhat accurate translation although I'd prefer to call it dumpling balls because my perception of a dumpling is a pillow-looking dough with something inside. These are definitely ball-shaped.

Apparently, according to the same friend again, I did a bold and daring thing to combine the marinated herring and the dumpling balls into one dish. This is actually an interesting observation. As a person who knows nothing of how these food should be prepared, and as a person with some knowledge in cooking and a hobby in eating, I find nothing wrong with combining these two items.

This just showed how much culture affects our trajectories and and perhaps limits one's creativity. To me, it is logical to eat something as bland as these dumplings (the dough outside is made of potatoes and the meat doesn't have that much flavor) with something with strong flavor as the marinated herrings.

My friend then added a comment that I should try pan-frying the dumpling balls after boiling them, as suggested by the packaging instruction. I was about to pour vegetable oil into the pan, but I stopped after noticing that all the oil used in the marinated herring will be thrown away without being used at all.

I did an even crazier thing by frying the dumpling balls using the chili oil from the herring marinade. And on top of that, included some Indonesian sweet soy sauce on the plate and then sprinkled some fried garlic on top of the dumplings.

To be honest, at first my intention was to use the soy sauce and the fried garlic to decorate the plate. But after trying to combine the sour, kind of astringent and spicy and somewhat tender herring with the rather bland and chewy dumpling, perfectly caramelized sweet soy sauce and crunchy fried garlic, I found out that this combination is actually pleasantly surprising. And I bet if I serve this kind of dish and say "this is a recipe from a famous fine dining chef Mr. XYZ", people will say that this is a genius invention. Okay, I overdid it. I wouldn't call it a genius invention, but rather, a play on texture, flavor and cultural mash-ups of a crazy college student with no background in culinary arts.

A simple experimental dish done by a neophilic food consumer who likes to go beyond the average limit :)


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