Through more than a decade of traveling for “Bizarre Foods” and other shows, host Andrew Zimmern has gotten to sample the exotic dishes of here and abroad. Now, he gets to demonstrate how to make some of them in a new companion web series on TravelChannel.com.
In “Bizarre Foods in the Kitchen,” Zimmern takes to the stove in his Minneapolis studios to give brief and simple 2-3 minute how-tos on preparing dishes he’s had during his travels, ranging from Thai coconut salmon soup and Brunswick stew to chicken fried steak and a whitefish shore lunch.
“When the network wanted to do some collateral material on TravelChannel.com,” Zimmern explains, “I asked if we could do something where we cook recipes either inspired by or actually taken from the road during my trips because a lot of fans see the food and say, ‘Well, where can I eat that?’ And oftentimes I’m not eating in restaurants so I have to find a forum to show people how to make the food that is unavailable unless you’re going to the country of origin or can bump into a chuckwagon on the cowboy trail.”
One of the more interesting dishes is the Thai coconut salmon soup that he brought back from Portland, Ore., which is made from the head and collar of a whole salmon, coconut milk, galangal (a rhizome similar to ginger), kaffir lime leaves and fish sauce. Ingredients such as these may not be familiar to most viewers, but Zimmern wants to be loyal to the original recipe and he says they can be found in the Asian food section of many markets.
“As Americans, we inhale other cultures first through our mouths,” he says. “We eat it before we approach their music or their dance or, sadly, their people. My hope is that by cooking these recipes people will connect with the food and then be more accepting of the different cultures, religion or skin color or language and begin to practice patience, tolerance and understanding with people around the world.”
What book are you currently reading?
“The book that I’m reading right now is Amy Thielen’s ‘Give a Girl a Knife.’ ”
What did you have for dinner last night?
“For dinner last night I ate at Kosaka, which is a Japanese restaurant on 13th Street in Manhattan. A bunch of folks who used to work at Jewel Bako, one of my favorite restaurants in New York from decades ago, left there and opened up their own restaurant and it’s just remarkable, remarkable sushi.”
What is your next project?
“The next project I’m doing is I’m working on a show called ‘The Zimmern List,’ which airs on Travel Channel in March. I have a new book that I’m working on. I have a hospitality company. We’re expanding very rapidly there. Intuitive Content, our production company, gets most of my attention. It’s really taking off and we’re making some really, really cool TV.”
When was your last vacation, where and why?
“My whole life is a vacation. I wish I could get away more. I think the last vacation was with my son to Disney World, one of our happy places.”