Refuel with these dishes from Wilderness Chef: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Outdoors by Ray Mears.
This slow-cooked curry, commonly dubbed the King of Curries, is a wonder of flavor. It is usually made with cheaper, tougher cuts of meat, which break down during the slow cooking and absorb all the wonderful spices. I like to honor the recipe with best venison or beef braising steak, however, which results in a shorter cooking time, but you can use any meat, red types being the best. If using other cuts, allow a longer cooking time. Some people prefer to remove the harder spices, but I like to leave them in—it’s entirely up to you.
Ingredients Serves 4
1 lb. best braising venison or beef steak
Malaysian curry powder for meat (check the quantity required on the packet; beware, these can be explosively hot!)
5 shallots or 1 medium onion
2-inch piece of fresh root ginger
3 lemongrass stems
3 tbsp oil
1 cinnamon stick
4 star anise
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups desiccated coconut water
1 tbsp palm sugar or honey
rice to serve
Coat each piece of meat in curry powder and leave to marinate for an hour.
Peel and chop the shallots or onion, and peel and roughly slice the ginger and the lemongrass.
Heat the oil in a cast-iron pan over a moderate heat, then add the spices and when their aromas rise from the pan, add the onion or shallots and fry for about 15 minutes, until translucent.
Add the meat and keep it moving as it browns. Once brown, add the salt, along with the ginger and lemongrass, and cook for 2 minutes.
Raise the pot to reduce the heat and cook slowly until the curry is nearly dry (about 30 minutes), then add sufficient water to prevent the curry from burning, but not enough to come level with the top of the meat.
Put the lid on and allow to cook slowly for 1 hour. Do not allow the curry to dry out. Check frequently, stirring the curry each time.
Meanwhile, prepare the kerisek by dry frying the desiccated coconut until it is golden. Be sure to keep an eye on it to prevent it from burning.
Once the curry has reduced to your preferred consistency, taste and season if required with extra salt and some palm sugar or honey, to taste.
Add the kerisek, mixing in well. Simmer at the lowest heat for 10 minutes. If using an iron camp oven, simply remove it from the heat.
Meanwhile, prepare the rice, then serve.
Nakkisoppa – Finnish Hot Dog Soup
This is one of the quickest and easiest of all soups to cook. It’s very filling and satisfying—a great dish for a group. Serve with crackers and cheese.
Ingredients Serves 8
2 medium potatoes
1 celery stalk
4 cups vegetable stock or beef stock
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns
1 star anise
6 hot dog sausages
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Peel (as required) and chop all of the vegetables into 1-inch chunks.
Bring the stock to a simmer, then add the bay leaf, black peppercorns, star anise and all of the chopped vegetables.
Cook until the vegetables are cooked but not too soft.
Slice the hot dog sausages into 1-inch lengths. Add to the soup, then remove the pan from the heat or, in cold weather, place over a low heat.
Cover and leave to rest for five minutes, then season to taste and serve.
Tortilla Española or Spanish Omelette
The quantities given here are for my favorite trail pan, which is small—only 9 inches in diameter. You will have to scale up for a larger pan, but this is one of those recipes that is made by intuitive judgement rather than micro measurement. It is wonderful as part of a lunch in a fixed camp, served with salad, pickled ingredients and cold meats. No doubt you will improvise with what you have. If all that is available to you is tinned meat, this tortilla will elevate the whole meal. The tortilla itself can be made with reconstituted egg powder if push comes to shove, but it is a poor second to real eggs.
Ingredients Serves 2
1 onion (optional)
4 tbsp olive oil
2–3 eggs (depending on the size of your pan)
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Peel and finely chop the potato and onion. While the onion lends flavor, it is not essential to the omelette.
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a wide billycan or frying pan over a medium heat, then add the potato and onion, if using. Shallow-fry for about 15 minutes, until soft. (I use a billycan as the frying pan I carry is not deep enough to shallow-fry the ingredients safely.)
While the potato and onion are cooking, beat the eggs and add the seasoning to the bowl.
Once cooked through, drain the potato and onion with a slotted spoon and add to the egg mixture. Fold them in well.
Heat your frying pan or billycan lid over a low heat, add the remaining oil and, once hot, pour in the egg mixture.
Cook gently. The aim is to cook the tortilla two-thirds through without scorching the base. Beware the ultra-thin pan!
Once the tortilla becomes sufficiently solid to turn over, place a plate over the pan, then invert both together. All being well, the tortilla will be sitting on the plate and can be slid back into the pan to complete cooking.
When finished, place a clean plate on top of the pan and flip it over to turn out the finished tortilla.
Variation: Alternatively, the potato can be grated and fried in less oil in a frying pan. This is a method that suits cooking on a hike stove as less fuel will be consumed.
Omelette in a Scruffy Pan
More often than not, our pan has seen hard service and is unwilling to work subtle miracles of French gastronomy, so here is a country recipe to irritate the perfectionists but delight your fellow diners. Most importantly, it will work in most pans within sensible reason!
Ingredients Serves 1
flavor ingredient, such as cheese and/or ham and/or mushrooms
1 tbsp butter, plus extra for frying
2–3 eggs (depending on the size of the pan)
pinch each of salt and ground black pepper
Finely grate the cheese and/or dice the ham and/or wipe, slice and sauté the mushrooms in a little butter.
Whisk the eggs until well aerated, then add a pinch each of salt and ground black pepper and the main ingredient and fold into the eggs.
Heat the pan over a medium heat, then add 1 tbsp butter. Once foaming, pour in the egg mix and cook gently, moving the mixture with the back of a fork.
As soon as the omelette starts to come together, remove from the heat and rely on the pan’s residual heat to finish off. If the cooking slows, tickle the pan with your heat source. Do not overcook the omelette: remember, it's a light dish.