Quote

,,One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating.
And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends. ,,
-Laurie Colwin

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Modern Romanian cuisine - (1)

What is Modern Romanian cuisine? I want to believe that there are a few chefs out there who do actually have a meaning of that and they will try to improve with passion the classic Romanian cuisine. For me modern cuisine must use high-quality local ingredients, preparing them in ways which combine traditional Romanian recipes with modern innovations. Also, modern approaches for me mean using cooking implements like food processors and maybe reducing the amount of fat, salt or sugar in dishes. I love as well to add extra ingredients for a final touch, to bring the dish to a different level. Romanian cuisine is a diverse blend of different dishes from several traditions with which it has come into contact, but it also maintains its own character. It has been greatly influenced by Ottoman cuisine while it also includes influences from the other cuisines such as Germans, Russians, Serbians and Hungarians. I love this cuisine that I grew up with.
Today, if you visit any Romanian supermarket you will see the multicultural influence in Romanian food. Today, the cuisine of Romania blends two types of cooking styles: a traditional one, which is used for everyday living in all Romanians houses and the Romanian cuisine that gathers influences from the Western civilizations and is used mainly in restaurants. .
The fast-food industry is developing quickly as well. The fast-food that is consumed in Romania has bad effects on people’s health. Romania is now among the first countries, in the heart disease top, and obesity also becomes a common health problem. Another factor that leads to bad health is represented by the high use of pork fat and pork meat in the preparation of the traditional dishes. In order to remediate these problems, we need to develop new preparation methods, based on the same ingredients with a healthy twist. Pork is the preferred meat, but chicken, beef, lamb, and fish are also popular.
There are many ways to categorize the style of Romanian cuisine but the most important I think is a classification based on regions of the country. Every region has its own fantastic distinct culinary traditions.
I will not speak here about the food from these regions but I'll try to share with you the most popular recipes that I think they deserve to be mentioned in my little story. The one of the most popular dish in Romanian cuisine is Sarmale.
Sarmale is a dish of cabbage, vine leaves or rhubarb leaves ( thanks to PENE, a friend of us, I just found out these are toxic, so I woudn't recommend anyone using them, even if I ate them when I was a child and I'm still here. I haven't eaten them in a very long time, but I remembered them and so I mentioned them in the post) rolled around a filling usually based on minced meat. Minced meat, rice, onions and salt, pepper and fresh thyme are mixed together and then rolled into large plant leaves, which may be cabbage (fresh or pickled), vine leaf (fresh or pickled) or rhubarbs leaves.
The combination is then boiled or cooked in the oven for several hours. While specific recipes vary across the regions, it is uniformly recognized that the best cooking method is slow cooking in large clay pots. Sarmale is one of the staple meals for festive occasions like Christmas, New Year, Easter, birthdays, etc. Also, I remember that my grandmother was making Sarmale without meat, where the meat was substituted with mushrooms and mince vegetables.
Unlike other European cultures, in Romania we use sour cabbage as opposed to fresh cabbage. At the end of the autumn, families traditionally prepare their own sour cabbage by pickling in salted water with thyme and horseradish (as whole cabbage, or as individual leaves, but not shredded) for sarmale-making.
Another kind of Sarmale are those rolled in (grape) vine leaves. Sarmale is normally a heavy dish and is usually eaten during winter. Traditionally, they are served along with mamaliga (polenta) or potatoes, sour cream and fresh chili. Here I will present you some of my Sarmale in new modern way that I made here in Estonia for different occasions and it has been a success every time.
Here I made ''Sarmale'' with  minced wild board, served with polenta cooked in goat milk, red pepper caviar and sour cream.
 Oven baked ''Sarmale'' with tomato sauce and sour cream served on soft polenta.
 Sarmale with deer meat served with white truffle polenta, chili hair and spicy fillo pastry. 
No meat - Sarmale with mushroom and brown rice, served with polenta, piri-piri chili and beetroot sour cream. 

Traditional Sarmale made in wine leaves served with polenta, smoked home made tomato sauce and parmesan. 
To be continued.... Pin It Now!

24 comments:

  1. Foarte frumoasa prezentare si foarte frumoasa initiativa de a prelua si inova mancarea romaneasca. Cred ca bucataria romaneasca este speciala si merita sa o pastram si sa o ridicam la un alt nivel. Felicitari, abia astept partea a doua :)

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  2. Rhubarb leaves are toxic & should not be eaten.

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    1. Those are grape leaves

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  3. Pene, I have to admit I had no idea they were toxic. Although I haven't eaten them for a long, long time, I remember them since I was a child, as our grandmothers used to make sarmale with it. That's why I mentioned them in the post. In that times, I suppose nobody knew they were toxic. Hence we are still here, so maybe they were not that bad then :) But thanks for the input, I really appreciate it! I will modify the post.

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    1. Eu cred ca exista aici o greseala de traducere. In Romania rubarba (rhubarb) nu e prea populara. Cred ca ai vrut sa spui loboda (red oarch, garden oarche) la care ii mai spune spanc francez, nu are frunze toxice si probabil le folosea bunica ta.

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    2. Eu cred ca exista aici o greseala de traducere. Rubaba (rhubarb) nu este foarte populara in bucataria romaneasca, probabil ca bunica ta folosea frunze de loboda (red orach, garden orache), numit si spanac francez si care nu e toxic. (give your grandma some credit). In rest superba presentarea.

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    3. Buna ziua, Ale!
      Nu este greșeala de traducere :) Bunica mea folosea chiar frunzele de rabarbăr (așa i se spune la noi). Chiar si noi, copii fiind pe atunci, făceam deosebirea între rabarbăr si loboda :) Pot spune ca am crescut cu rabarbăr. Petrecîndu-mi majoritatea vacantelor la bunici, stiam grădina cu ochii închiși :) Cand ma trimitea pe mine (Bianca) sa aduc rabarbăr, ma punea sa rup frunzele mai tinere, cu care învelea sarmalele, din tije ne făcea prăjitură, compot sau pur si simplu băgam tija in zahăr și mușcam din ea :)

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  4. Mihaela, si eu cred ca bucataria romaneasca este speciala si merita mai mult respect. Consider ca este datoria mea de bucatar sa contribui la dezvoltarea ei si am sa incerc sa-mi spun parerea. Multumesc mult pentru comment!

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  5. Indeed rhubarb leaves are bit toxic if you eat a lot of them or you have kidney troubles, they contain ethanedioic acid and it can cause kidney stones. But. Young rhubarb leaves, first in the spring (specially if you blanch them slightly) are totally edible and really good in a soup with some nettle leaves, spinach, sourdock etc.
    As for rolling stuff in leaves - new trend in Estonia is blackcurrant leaves (soaked in salt water and some lemon juice over night).

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  6. bravo, nico. excelent punct de vedere. nu sunt un patriot sau nationalist prea convins (we are citizens of the world, i say) dar este timpul sa ne mai educam cu totii. si cred si eu ca mai bine promovam ceea ce ne place noua si ne face mandrii, modernizand putin, decat sa facem ce-i la moda de la altii, neaparat. buna ideea de a reduce cantitatea de grasime si sare din preparatele traditionale. e singurul mod de a le face in continuare. m-am saturat sa nu gasesc in nici un restaurant mediu din romania o sarma sau o tocanita. numai carne si cartofi, pizza si pasta, cel mult ciorbe. arati de fapt cat de ofertante sunt si produsele traditionale: nutritional, estetic etc. din nou, bravo.

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  7. nice description Nico. In fact for meat we can use any type.
    Just a consideration about rhubarb: you need to eat around 5 kg of fresh leaves to die.

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  8. Nico,imi place mult postul tau si imi mai place ca un chef de talia ta,incearca sa reinventeze,sa modernizeze,bucataria romaneasca traditionala! FELICITARI

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  9. Extraordinara prezentare....Bravo.Bucataria noastra merita sa urce la nivelul care i se cuvine.

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  10. sa stii ca de craciun,voi reinventa sarmalele in maniera ta! multumesc!home made tomato sauce ala ma framanta ! ca imi place ideea! cum il faci,cu afumatura adaugata? ca de rosii afumate nu vreau sa aud .probabil ca am sa improvizez

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  11. am uitta sa intreb,la sarmalele cu filo pastry
    ,triunghiurile alea sunt din foi de placinta? super!abia acum m-am prins.

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  12. superb tot ce faci , felicitari pentru amandoi

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  13. Foarte interesant.Felicitari

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  14. cel mai tare mod de prezentare pentru sarmale!!! nu m-as fi gandit ca pot arata asa de frumos... sunt si mai gustoase daca-s coapte intr-un vas de lut.

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    1. Multumesc! :) Sunt convins ca in vas de lut sunt super gustoase! :)

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  15. Our grandmothers were using horseradish leaves (hrean) for sarmale sometimes. It gave a very delicate taste. I never heard of rhubarb in Romania.

    Marichka

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  16. Salut nico. Ma numesc Cezar si vreau sa te felicit in primul rand pentru pasiune si vreau sa zic, ca te-am urmarit la top chef si chiar iti tineam pumnii la inca de la ultimele 5 episoade.In ultimii 4 ani am trait in anglia, lucrez ca chef si am lucrat in timpul asta cam 2 ani la gordon ramsay at claridges in inima londrei. Am avut sansa sa lucrez si o luna in restaurantul lui de 3* michelinne.
    Trecand la sarmale... eu o sa ma casatoresc anul viitor in Oradea si as vrea sa ii uimesc pe toti putin cu meniul, dar totusi sa am si ceva traditiona. Ma gandeam sa descompun sarmalele si sa le fac fara foi iar farfuria sa arate intr-un stil fine dining. sper sa imi iasa si felicitari pentru ca esti singurul pe tot internetul care a mai facut altceva cu sarmalele.

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