Timing is everything. Just last week, I made some Jollof Rice, an West African dish, but bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t find red palm oil.
Red palm oil is less refined than bleached palm oil and the process of refining it removes fewer nutrients, which makes red palm oil a potentially healthier alternative to standard palm oil. Plus the flavor is completely distinctive and a hallmark of much African and Caribbean cooking.
But as I was covering the opening of BCG Supermarket, I wandered in to the store and found that and a lot more. So we’re happily headed to West Africa once more.
Egusi stew is an exotic hearty food that will satisfy your taste buds in a way they haven’t tasted before. It is an uncomplicated, quick, one pot meal that is often accompanied by rice or “swallows” - a food “type” that is swallowed not chewed, like mashed potatoes. The Fufu recipe that follows is a “swallow.”
2 Cups Egusi melon seeds, ground
1 Cup Palm Oil or a little more or less depending on preference
4 Tbsp Crayfish powder (or bonito)
24 oz chopped spinach
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Habanero Pepper**
1 Fresno Pepper
2 lb Goat cubes**
Salt To Taste
3 cups Beef or Chicken stock
Blend the peppers and one onion together until smooth, and set aside.
Blend the Egusi seeds and crayfish together. Set aside as well.
Heat the palm oil in a pan and allow it to melt over medium heat but don’t overheat the oil.
Add the remaining onion (diced) and the meat. Brown the meat and onion and let it cook for about 3 minutes on medium heat.
Add the blended pepper and cook till the water is reduced this should take about 15 minutes on medium heat stirring about every 5 minutes to prevent burning.
Add the beef stock, cover and leave to cook for another 5 minutes
Gently introduce the blended egusi blend, cover it and leave it to cook for about 20 to 30 minutes Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn and add more stock or water if necessary.
Check the meat cubes. When they’re about done, stir in the spinach and leave to simmer for about 5 minutes (stir constantly). Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Serve while still hot.
½ cup fufu flour
1 cup boiling water
Combine the fufu flour and 1 cup cold water in a small pot. With a sturdy wooden spoon, stir until the mixture is combined and has a silky-smooth texture without any lumps.
Place the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously with the wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to solidify and thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Once it thickens, use the spoon to knead the fufu in the pot until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pot and becomes one mass, about 2 minutes
Add 1/3 cup water to the fufu, cover with a lid or aluminum foil and bring the water to a boil. Remove the lid and use the wooden spoon to continuously knead the fufu in the pot until the water cooks off. Continue to knead for 1 minute more. Repeat the process of adding water and kneading 2 more times.
If it is still sticky, make another addition of water and knead it until the water is absorbed. Then test the fufu with a wet spoon again.
Line a medium plate with plastic wrap and sprinkle it with cold water. Dip the wooden spoon in water, then use it to scoop the fufu onto the plastic wrap. Mold the fufu into a ball by twisting the 4 ends of the plastic wrap together clockwise, then untwist the ends counterclockwise to release the fufu.
Unlike the directions on the box, it is important to use cold water to mix the fufu flour. Warm or hot water will cause it to start cooking, creating a lumpy fufu instead of a smooth one.
Go visit BCG Supermarket for some great produce and amazing international ingredients. I’m sure I’ll see you there!
Pictured: Dr. Jean Marie Tuete, owner of BCG