Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Our Hangi -- Earthen Oven

Originally uploaded by seaniz.

Earthen Oven

We had a spectacular Pacific Island style dinner with Pacific Island timing to boot. Here is our hangi (pronounced like 'honey') preparation -- most of the steps are illustrated with pics.

  1. Promise to throw a spectacular dinner
  2. Put off all preparations for as long as possible
  3. Get heaps of wood
  4. Arrange for the delivery of meat at the hangi site
  5. Same day as the hangi, get your friends to help to do everything.
  6. Collect rocks the size of baby heads -- heaps.
  7. Buy supplies, such as spades, axes, saws, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.
  8. Dig a hole about 1 meter deep and 2 meters long -- depending on the amount of food to cook.
  9. Chop the wood
  10. Find an Islander to finish your hangi for you
  11. The islander does the rest and you are done -- sort of.
  12. Put a few logs of wood into the hole and arranging the rocks so that they are suspended over the hole by other logs light the works on fire.
  13. Once the wood has burned a significant amount, approximately two to three hours and looks quite evenly white get rid of the bulk of the wood, so that all that remains in the hole are hot rocks.
  14. Arrange the food into baskets and place the meats closest to the rocks.
  15. Stack the potatoes and kumera on top of the meats and any other vegetables above these.
  16. Cover everything in a cloth. Use something strong to bridge the hole so that you can cover everything in airtight earth without crushing your food yet allowing the heat and moisture to circulate freely around the food.
  17. 2 to 3 hours later, uncover the hole.
  18. Eat dinner late -- much later than advertised.
  19. Refill the hole and tidy the site.
The meat and kumera (Kiwi for sweet potato) were incredibly delicious and moist! I will most certainly help anybody to make a hangi again. However, next time I help make one I will most certainly have a more pleasant time.

On my first attempt, I was not aware of the appropriate Islander sense of timing and so I was constantly stressed-out about time and really wondering how it would be possible to do almost all of the preparations on the same day instead of doing the majority of preparations at least 1 week in advance as would be my natural instinct.

Before I had a real sense for the appropriate lack of hurriedness required to make a real honey I did a crazy car stunt on the way into the site with most of the supplies. My friend described it as a 'Jackie Chan' stunt and I most certainly hope I am not possessed to do such a thing again.

The stunt
Returning to the site I missed a turn-off, as the fellow giving me directions was too busy yakking away on the phone. He indicated that I should turn left when I was already more than half way into the intersection. Instead of being a reasonable driver I was mid-panic that we could not possibly get everything done in time and so, perceiving a gap in the oncoming traffic, I turned to drive between two oncoming cars and then maneuvering to drive against the traffic between two lanes of traffic I drove until I found another gap in the next lane finally affecting the most ridiculous U-turn I have ever managed and allowing me to quickly make that left hand turn that I had just missed.

Fortunately, this kind of stunt fits quite nicely into the continuum of daily traffic that I witness over here, but the experience may stay with me for quite a long while and I am pretty sure this particular stunt turned heaps of heads--never a good plan in Korea.

More hangi pictures.

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