#17: Libya

Happy (post) Labor Day!

It was really exhausting for some of the Brovskys to be residing in the kingdom of Brovskyland this weekend. It was not turmoil in the kingdom, but change, in the form of hardwood floors. There was sanding. There was staining. There was happiness in the land once we completed phase one of #weekendwarrior chaos. {{Stay tuned for phase two!}}

THE DINNER: We took a little sabbatical from the carpentry to cook food from another African country, Libya. It seems that was not well placed in our circuit since at basically the exact moment we were cooking Sunday, a news story broke about the US embassy in Libya being taken over… so much for timing. But it did put things into perspective a little.

We settled on a fish dish for the adventure this week. It wasn’t hard to come by the ingredients, but we did learn some interesting things about Libyan cuisine in the process! Libya is so close to the Mediterranean that it shares a food profile with Morocco/Egypt/Etc. being familiar with similar spices and couscous and dates and lamb. Libyans also eat a lot of fish and stews. We picked Mbatan Kawali  ( which is known as: سمك مقلي محشي بالبطاطا in Libyan) which was a fried fish fillets with potato stuffing. The side dish was traditional with this Mbatan (which is only made on Fridays or for special guests. We figured we were “special guests” since it wasn’t a Friday). The side dish is served with all Libyan seafood meals—a Tomato/Cumin Salad.

 Mataban Kawali Recipe (with Tomato Salad): http://libyanfood.blogspot.com/2011/02/fried-fish-stuffed-with-potatoes-mbatan.html

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 OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE (and a half) STARS out of five for this Dinner.
The fish was incredibly simple. Mom had a leg up on this one though and it was funny that she mentioned it out loud the exact moment I was thinking it in my head that thought was: “Norwegian Leftsa”. Let me explain this one as Norwegian Leftsa (typically made at Christmas Time) has little to nothing to do with Libyan food… except it did this week. My mom is a woman of many skills. One of which is making Leftsa (thin potato pancakes rolled into flauta-like rolls filled with butter and brown sugar goodness) require a skill with flipping these crepe thin pancakes with two spatulas or sometimes poles. It took years for her to master, so flipping the Libyan fish was literally second nature. It might be higher difficulty for others out there, but mom tackled this one with ease. The stuffing, tomato salad, fish frying all took less than ten ingredients and less than 30 min. It was amazing.

 Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for the Dinner.
  Libyan food was a hit. WOW. Seriously. Amazing. We picked Tilapia as our fish choice which turned out perfect. The amount of herbs in the stuffing sort of scared us to be honest. We triple checked the amounts, in fact. But it really wasn’t that strong- whether that was due to the moisture in the potatoes or their starchiness, it soaked up the herbs and it was perfectly seasoned. The fish was crispy and made me happy we went with the fried and not baked version (though I’m certain it would have been just as tasty). The tomato salad was the most surprising. THERE WAS LITERALLY nothing to this one. It was tomatoes and some cumin and salt and lemon juice and WONDERFUL things ensued. Again, we were nervous about the amount of salt in the salad, but go with it. It was perfect. The juice from the salad melted into the fish. I have to say, i liked the audible mom called on this one: Heirloom Tomatoes. It was brilliant. They were all different sizes and colors and they are typically more sweet than the called for Roma style which made the flavor profile sensational. I literally plan on making this salad this week for lunch (maybe twice…#noshame).

The adventure we plan on having next will take us all to the fantastic world of Japan! We can’t wait to break out the chopsticks and have a surprise bonus for you guys also for this one!

Cheers!
– L & K

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