Xmas work out – Polish bigos – 5 to 7 days cooking pleasure

So, let me tell you how you make one of the traditional Polish dishes called bigos. The longer you cook it the better it is. The more types of meat you put inside the better. Believe me it’s so worth the effort!

Ok, so first of all you need to cook the sour cabbage with black pepper (grains), allspice, bay leafs. Well to be honest if it’s too sour you need to rinse it first but it rarely happens. It looks like this:

So it is cooked and let me tell you the more the better cos there is never enough of bigos. At this point I add mushrooms. if you read my post about mashrooming you know what mushrooms I’m talking about. At th beginning they are dry so you need to leave them in warm water to soak for a while. chop them and put them in. So now you fry different types of meat.  beef, pork, wild fowl, sausage… This year I didn’t get a nice portion of beef, everything looked too fat or not the right quality. So I took: shoulder, veal, pork roast, beacon and rural sausage.

So first onion with beacon:

And then the meat:

shoulder

 

Veal
Pork roast

I put salt and pepper (ground) to all of them. My tip is to put it into pot and then pour some hot water on the pan to get all the remains out and pour it to bigos, it brings in more flavor, and the water evaporates. And let’s not forget the sausages:

 And after cooking you add some more ground pepper, salt, sweet red pepper, charlock, coriander, cumin, jniper, tomato puree and wine or plums. Everything to taste.

And this was only the first day.

No you cool it down or freeze it at least once a day for 5 days.

And then it’s ready and gone in minutes! Enjoy!

Bigos

 

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Vietnamese border

Cambodian border
Cambodian border, we didn't even stop

 

Cambodian border – no problem.

Vietnamese border – big problem.

First the man on the bus collected all our passports, then he quickly left the bus and went to the building on our left. It was just around this time of a day when day becomes night. We were asked to take our luggage and follow another man inside the same building. Inside we saw security gates and X-ray. Individually we put our backpacks on the belt and walked further to pick them up on the other side. The overwhelming feeling was: “not sure why we do it all, but better stay calm, wait and see what happens”. Then we took the baggage and put it back to the bus hold.

And waited. And waited with no information. And waited… did I say we waited?

We started talking with other passengers.  And then first lot of passports came. Still no information about the remaining ones. One of the travelers was a big, black guy. He was fighting in Vietnam and now came back to see it once again. He didn’t get his passport back and expecting troubles got restless. Overreacting, but then he was here last time in quite different circumstances… In second sort we got our passports back, but the black guy did not. Now he was really worried. He started shouting he is American citizen and his visa is ok. He tried to speak to our driver but well the driver didn’t speak English. I guess most of the passengers (like us) were suprised to hear him being so worried and his loud manifestation of worry did not help to stay calm.

Finally the guy came back for the third time and the American got his passport back. We were still waiting for something as the bus didn’t even start its engine. After a while group of four girls were asked to come to the building with our pilot. Polish girls by the way. We got to know each other a little better after this adventure.

They were asked to a room on the first floor where a Vietnamese officer in white undershirt was sitting behind the desk. There were some other people there as well.  As it turned out there was problem with their visas. The girls did not organize them themselves but trusted their friend to do it for them. So it came out that they had a transit visa not a touristic one – cheaper and valid for only a few days. And so were asked to show the itinerary from Vietnam which they didn’t have and $1000 per person which they did have. It was just the beginning of their trip.

They told us the guy was manifestly waiting for a bribe pushing his accounts book towards them as to signal to put the money inside.  They didn’t do it. I remember one of the girls saying “I would give him the money if we were alone. I couldn’t do it in the crowd of other people”. Well there you go…

Finally they came back on the bus and we could start on our way to HCMC. And what happened there I’ll tell you next time…

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The way to Saigon

Of course people who were supposed to pick us up from our hotel were late. We started to think we won’t make it, they forgot about us and we will have to quarrel to get our money back. Very late nonetheless the bus came.  We picked up many more tourists on our way and made it to catch the long distance bus to Ho Chi Minh City with a change in Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia). i wouldn’t bet but I think it was waiting for us.

Helping out in CambodiaI was very sleepy but tried to stay awake to sightsee and get an impression of the country outside Siem Reap. At the beginning I was failing terribly caught somewhere between sleep and being awake. Finally I pulled myself together and got to know a red haired guy sitting behind me. I think he was from Australia (can’t remember for sure) and had a Cambodian girlfriend. He lived in the country for a while, this not being his first visit here, and absolutely loved it.

We talked about why he is coming back to Cambodia, what he loves most about it, how poor the society is and how it’s all changing. I should have written it all down but there are only few stories that I remember.

One of them is why there is so much plastic and garbage lying around: people in Cambodia are not used to things that do not decompose. For generations they used to throw away things around themselves cos they were organic and would decompose.  Now when the country is flooded with plastic – the habit remains and so does the junk.

Also Cambodians are unfamiliar with power (electric current) and often they don’t know which materials are conductors or that they can harm themselves working with power lines without any securities. Crazy things they do because of ignorance, I suppose there is nobody to teach them. This was actually why my new acquaintance was there in Cambodia.bugs

LeafsI need to stress that foremost his message was that people are friendly and welcoming (especially in the countryside) and how much they need help with the education, sanitation and medicine.

At Phnom Penh we had to change the bus. There was police pageant with shields separating our bus from the next one and from anyone who might try stealing luggage from the hold. We took our backpacks quickly and were escorted to the other bus that would take us further to Ho Chi Minh City.Mniam mniam

to eat or not to eat?Before I describe what happened on the Vietnamese border there is one more thing I would like to describe namely the river crossing. We had to wait – as you can imagine – before getting on the ferry. This is when I saw the famous delights of Cambodian cuisine. Have a look at the pictures! I have to admit I didn’t have enough courage to buy any of them, not because of the disgust but being afraid to ask somebody – I get extremely shy sometimes.

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