World Cup Cook-off: North Korea vs Cameroon

N Korea 001

Korean Mul-Naeng-Muyn. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

As the Fifa World Cup draws to a close, so too does The Global Table’s World Cup Cook-off – an ambitious and  fun foodie project which saw us round up a large variety of traditional recipes representative of every single nation to have played in the soccer spectacle.

There are only three countries left for us to “travel” to – and this weekend we are sharing recipes from North Korea, Cameroon and Ivory Coast – even though these countries are long gone in World Cup terms, having already been eliminated at the end of the group matches stage.

It’s hard to believe we have cooked, grilled, baked and basted our way through 32 countries over the past three months – and Weekend Post readers helped us every step of the way!

Locals with links to participating nations from every continent came forward to  share their favourite traditional  dishes, and a slice of their lives, with us.

All 32 recipes can be accessed on The Global Table at any time – as it is a blog the recipes never disappear as such, but simply move further down the blog roll. All you need to find a particular recipe is use the search function, for instance by typing in key words like the country’s name, or  “World Cup Cook-off”.

Today’s first two recipes are fairly unusual by South African standards. The first is a North Korean chilled soup called Mul-Naeng-Myun, which is made of a beefy stock, buckwheat noodles,  thin slices of sirloin, raw cucumber and pear, and half a boiled egg. This is often served with a fiery red Asian chilli sauce to add heat, and some ice blocks to soothe the tastebuds afterwards.

Our second recipe today is a salad from Cameroon that combines tropical fruits with avocado and tomato in a  rich coconut milk dressing.

This weekend we will also have a third recipe – a cucumber and celery  salad served with a sour cream dressing and bits of cold, flaked fish like halibut or tuna. This recipe is from the Ivory Coast, our very last country to be featured in the World Cup Cook-off.

Don’t miss The Global Table next Saturday,  when we conclude  the World Cup Cook-off project by  sharing one last recipe from whichever nation  emerges as the overall winner of  the  2010 Fifa World Cup! Is the dish going  to be a Dutch delight or a Spanish sizzler, we wonder? Or perhaps, in honour of both countries reaching the finals, we should do one of each!

North Korean Mul Naeng-Myun: The Recipe

This Korean noodle dish is popular in the summer, when it is served chilled. The Koreans use special Naeng-Myun buckwheat noodles which give the dish its name, while ‘Mul’ means water. I couldn’t find any Naeng-Myun noodles in Port Elizabeth, and so used normal buckwheat soba noodles from Woolworths instead – you’ll find them in the Asian section. Some of the ingredients are difficult to find in South Africa, especially in one of the smaller cities like Port Elizabeth, so I have improvised considerably in the recipe below. Koreans, please forgive me! I see some recipes also say you should ‘pickle’ the cucumber a bit before the time  – they use salt, garlic, a little bit of minced spring onion, a small amount of vinegar and sesame oil and a sprinkle of red chili flakes. They also use daicon radish, ‘picked’ in a similar way, instead of (or over and above) the pear.

Serves 2


90g of buckwheat soba noodles (Woolworths sells them in a 270g pack which contains 3 x 90g servings); a stock made up of about 600ml of water, 2 Tbsp of beef stock powder (although it is preferable to use a simple and very neutral home-made beef stock) as well as 2 Tbsp of decent soya sauce like Kikkoman; 1/3 to half a cucumber, sliced in very thin strips with a potato peeler; 1 fresh, firm pear which has been very thinly sliced (do this right before serving so it doesn’t discolour); 1 hard-boiled egg, halved; a few very thin slices of cooked sirloin steak (about 100g should be fine – you could also have boiled the steak in the 600ml of water above to give you the beef stock needed for the recipe); a shake or two of chili flakes; a tsp or so of roasted sesame seeds; about 1/2 tsp of fiery Korean chili sauce (if you can’t find this, use any hot Asian chili sauce as long as it’s bright red in colour); ice blocks for serving


First boil the buckwheat noodles in water for 3 and a half minutes, drain, run cold water through, drain again and then split into two bowls. Now prepare the beef stock and set aside until cold. To plate up, divide the stock into the two bowls that already have your noodles in them, then gently add the sliced cucumber, pear and steak. Position half an egg on top of each, then sprinkle chili flakes and sesame seeds over and add a dollop of Asian chilli sauce – watch out, it’s really, really hot!

The Global Table Verdict

This soup is unusual by South African standards and after making it, I am more than tempted to serve it warm rather than chilled – just won’t tell any Koreans as they’ll probably want to hunt me down! I guess it doesn’t help that I tried the dish in the middle of the South African winter… Will give the chilled version another bash in summer. If I do end up heating it, I’ll probably only add the cucumber and pear at the very end, so they retain their crunch, otherwise it will all be rather pointless. To add to the sacrilege, you could also use a tablespoon or two of mirin to the beef stock mixture, shhhhh……..  – Louise Liebenberg

Ivory Coast 001

Tropical salad from Cameroon. Picture: Salvelio Meyer

Tropical salad from Cameroon: The Recipe

This unusual dish from the Central and West-African nation of Cameroon should be enough to serve 4 people as a side dish.


2 firm ripe bananas, peeled and diced; 2 firm ripe tomatoes, diced; 1 small pineapple, peeled and diced; 1 ripe but firm avocado, peeled and diced; 2 Tbsp of roasted peanuts, chopped; 1 standard-size can of coconut milk


Boil the coconut milk until it thickens, stirring regularly so there’s no chance of it burning. This should take around 40 minutes on medium heat and should yield about a 3/4 cup of dense coconut milk. Set aside to cool completely.

Spread the banana, tomato, pineapple and avo out on a platter or alternate them in layers in a glass bowl. Pour over the thickened coconut milk and sprinkle the nuts on top. Serve cold.

The Global Table Verdict

I served this salad in my gran’s beautiful crystal glasses and the colours looked incredible. I loved the look of the salad but simply could not get used to the strange taste of the tomato mixed in with the fruit, even though tomato is technically a fruit! The avo on the other hand did not disturb me nearly as much, and I also enjoyed the coconut dressing even though it is arguably very rich. At the risk of being hunted down and lynched by Cameroonian food purists, I would probably only make this dish again if I could substitute the tomato with persimmon – the colour would be similar and if I’m not mistaken the two are related anyway! I could easily accept avo in the salad but if that is too weird for your tastes, perhaps consider kiwi, bearing in mind that would make it far more of a fruit salad than a salad you would serve alongside a main course. – Louise Liebenberg

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