Wednesday, September 17, 2008
when venessa and i were in namibia over a month ago (over a month?! time has FLOWN by!), we got a good taste of a very popular soup called chakalaka. it is simply and wonderfully a dry soup mix made by knorr...and it really is called 'chakalaka'. knowing that i wouldn't be able to find it when i returned to sweden, and probably not here in spain either, i bought 2 packets to take home with me. i've been anxious to try it on my own and introduce fred to our african dining experience from namibia. during the week that venessa and i spent in ondangwa, we ate chakalaka soup almost every night, and almost always with an african cornmeal specialty called 'pap' (pronounced 'pop'). the customary way to eat the pap and chakalaka is to scoop out a hunk of pap and dip it into this spicy vegetable soup. i wasn't the biggest fan of pap, so i'm not sure that i enjoyed the chakalaka to it's full potential...until, that is, we were served the chakalaka over plain noodles the last night we were there. i loved it! perhaps i was just so hungry and the idea of anything in front of me besides pap was sheer heaven, not sure, but i have magnificent memories of pasta and chakalaka. that, my friends, is when i decided i had to bring a few packets home.
when fred and i were at the market yesterday, we just sort of grabbed a few standard food items and i stocked up on any produce that got my attention. we bought some frozen fish as well, what we thought was cod. last night i was sort of at a loss as to what to make (as i had quite a few new options). fred suggested something with the chakalaka soup! when he left for his evening practice, i quickly got online and googled 'cod' recipes. i found one that sounded like a perfect match to go with the soup. i sautéed 2 gloves of garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, added 1 chopped yellow onion, 2 big chopped tomatoes and 1 sliced green pepper. the recipe called for 1/4 cup of white wine, but i substituted the wine with the soup. i had already preheated the soup in about 2 cups of hot water. i wanted the vegetables to cook in a good amount of liquid. just before fred arrived home, i added the chunks of fish and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. i served it all over a bed of brown rice, making sure there was plenty of juice to seep through. my first bite was absolutely delicious. immediate memories of namibia, ondangwa, those sweet girls we stayed with, every bit of africa...it all came flowing back. funny how our senses can recall so much. everything about the meal was delicious...except...EXCEPT that the fish was indeed NOT cod. it was chewy and had a texture similar to squid, but we still have no idea what it was. the packaging only said 'pescado'...which means 'fish'. that didn't help us out to much. i scooped my fish to the side, as i was a little leery, but fred was a champion and ate all of his. he said it sounded like an apple he chewed it, haha. you just never know...
fred scale: 4 ('only because of the fish, but that wasn't your fault...and i loved the spiciness')