Brunei, officially 'Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace' is a small sovereign state on the island of Borneo and completely surrounded by Malaysia. I read this etiquette guide (from wikipedia) to the little boys last night before dinner:
Eye contact - In Brunei society, some conversations between males and females have a very little contact, unless necessary due to religious reasons. However, most people maintain direct eye contact to signal interest, and staring in Brunei society is considered as extremely rude and should be avoided.
Physical contact - It is best to avoid physical contact and touching between members of the opposite sex while conversing in public.
Communication style - Bruneians tend to favor an indirect style of communication. The people are rarely direct especially when handling sensitive topics.
Social timing - In business event or social situations - guests are required to come earlier than the guest of honor.
Pointing - It is advisable to present and received items only with the right hands. Also, it is encouraged to use thumb when pointing and never use an index finger (as it is consider impolite) or mouth/lips (considered uncouth).
And for the big boy, I explained that Brunei was a predominantly Muslim nation, so they didn't serve alcohol...then I cracked open a bottle of red because, well, we aren't actually in Brunei. Cheers!
It was Dylan's turn as kitchen-elf. This is what we made.
Urap (Cooked Vegetables with Coconut)
Though I was very liberal on my interpretation of the vegetables, I did include bamboo shoots. This was Dylan's facial expression when I opened the can and asked him to slice them. "Mom," he complained, "these smell like baby wipes." They are called bamboo shoots. "No, really," he insisted, "they smell like baby wipes.
Cut all of your vegetables into bite-sized pieces. The traditional recipe calls for cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, and onions. I used red bell peppers, zucchini, leeks, bamboo shoots, and baby corn...simply because that's what I had in my cabinet. I did, however, stay true to the spices. Steam or cook all of your veggies so that they are cooked but just. No mushy veggies, please!
Mix together grated coconut, chili sauce, salt, and lime juice. Toss the sauce into the veggies and serve hot.
Terong Belado (Spiced Eggplant)
This dish was extremely easy to make though it does take some time for the eggplant to cook completely. And, since I had used all of my lime in the previous dish, we substituted freshly squeezed clementine juice.
In a large flat-bottomed skillet, heat oil and soften minced garlic. Add peeled, cubed eggplant and cook till they begin to soften. Add tomatoes, clementine juice, and dried chili flakes, if desired. Serve hot.
That was it for the vegetable side-dishes. For the main dish, I didn't find any recipes that really fit with what what in my fridge, so I ended up creating a coconut-crusted fish and serving it with a traditional Bruneian sauce: Kecap manis, a sweet soy sauce. Apparently you can purchase this already made; I cooked my own.
Kecap Manis (Sweet, Dark Soy Sauce)
1 C organic granulated sugar
1 C soy sauce
1/4 C water
2 star anise pods
2 bay leaves
1 T minced garlic
Carmelize the sugar in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. When the sugar has melted, add the soy sauce and all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
Dessert - yes, we had dessert! - was a family favorite:
Cook black rice in a mixture of coconut milk or coconut cream and water. When the rice is almost cooked, stir in some sugar. Once it's completely cooked, serve it with a drizzling of more coconut milk and slices of fresh mango on top.
This Knight of the Global Table Adventure is signing out for now. We're off to Bulgaria next.