Discovering new flavours: the Sarmale
This past Christmas I discovered a great dish of the Romanian cousine: the sarmale, yummy kale rolls stuffed with rice, meat and mixed spices. Let me give you some context: I generally spend the Christmas eve with my sister-in-law's family, and being it a very traditional italian family you can imagine the amount of food that is available in the house. On that particular night, everything (and when I write everything, I mean it) is fried. The ladies of the family gather at my brother's in the early afternoon, lit the fire, boil the oil and start frying kilos and kilos of fish and vegetables, and this goes on until dinner time. The secret is to stand by the fire, asking questions to the cook while simultaneously slipping a piece of something recently fried in the mouth when she is not watching. It always works!
This year the parents of my nephew's schoolmate joined the dinner and brought some traditional food from their home country, Romania. I have to admit that when these funny rolls were brought to the table, I was super full already, so I tried one just to onor the cook. And then I had other 4, because they were incredibly good!!!
I went back to Alicante burning with desire of trying them, and so I did. I will write down the recipe in a minute, but I have to confess that I used a trick: a spice mix specific for the sarmale :)
Kale leaves boiled and preserved in vinegar
boiled white rice
minced meat (beef and pork)
sarmale spice mix
tomato sauce (better if homemade)
Mix the boiled rice, the spices and the minced meat, then use this to stuff the kale leaves. Pan-fry the onion cut a la julienne in a pot, add the sarmale rolls and cover with the tomato sauce and a little water. Boil for 30 minutes. Originally, they are served with sour cream :)