If like me you are always looking for perfection in your cooking, you'd understand why/how I came about this technique.
The Nigerian Style Stew (which is essentially a type of red pepper sauce) is so pivotal to most Nigerian dishes, it is a must have in every home. So versatile, it is served with virtually any meal you can think of.....rice, pasta, beans, yam, bread etcetera, it is also served with other soups to accompany dishes such as pounded yam, amala, gari...and so on...This sauce is that important, I often advise those new to Nigerian cooking to start by learning to make Nigerian Style Stew.
Now there are two sides to achieving the perfect stew :- the starting ingredients and the method of cooking..
The basic starting ingredients for this stew are well ripened tomatoes, sweet peppers (often ramiro (tatashe) or bell pepper), chili peppers (either scotch bonnet chillis or cayenne peppers, or both if you can stand the heat), onions. Fresh garlic, ginger and other herbs may be added depending on preferences.
The basic concept of making the stew is simple, blend all ingredients and cook with added vegetable oil until the stew comes together in taste and consistency. The methods used of course varies with individual....Some will boil the blended mix of peppers and onions first and then cook in a lot of hot oil to get a dried out, "fried" result. Others will cook the blended mix with raw meat until it becomes tender and soft. Yet others will cook the blended mix first with added oil, then added precooked meat of fish pieces in the final stage of coking. This is the most common method.
Moving to some other parts of West Africa, some tribes actually boil their raw ingredients first before blending and cooked....!
"So, what is a perfect Nigerian Stew: this is very relative to individuals....while some will enjoy a thin/loose stew with a lot of assortment of meats and fish, others prefer a much thicker, rich stew, and yet another category of people would prefer a dried out, reduced moisture stew oozing with a lot of oil...!"I have enjoyed all types of Nigerian Style Stew described above and frankly each type has its special moment of requirement,,,,,depending on what dish I want to serve it with.
Over my many years of cooking Nigerian Style Stew (aka Obe Ata by the Yorubas), I have always wanted to recreate it using techniques and ingredients that can redefine its worth - consistency/texture, taste, visual appeal and versatility.
So I came up with my technique: Twice Blended Twice Cooked.....and the result,..... Silky Smooth and Rich...really I can not describe it, you have to give it a try......it will change the way you cook your stews completely....!
The resulting stew is even more versatile made my way. Besides serving with your dishes, it can be used as a condiment in other cooking techniques such as stir frying, sauteing, marinating.....etc
Here is how below:
What you need
- Red peppers (bell peppers or ramiro long peppers)
- Ripe tomatoes
- Chili peppers (choose either scotch bonnet or cayenne or both as you wish)
- Chicken stock or other condiments of preference
- Cooking oil
What to do
- Prep your peppers by removing all seeds and stalk. Skin the onions and rinse all ingredients out. Cut all ingredient into small pieces to fit into the blender.
- The proportion of ingredients you use should be guided by the variety of peppers you use and your personal preference for thickness and how spicy you want the stew. I tend to follow the ratio: About 10 medium ripe tomatoes, to 2-3 large sweet peppers or ramiro long peppers, about 5 whole but de-seeded chili peppers, 1 large onion.
- Blend all ingredients together. Heat a small amount of oil in a cooking pot and add one clove peeled garlic and half an inch of peeled ginger. Allow the ginger and garlic to soften a little, to release their oils and essence into the hot oil, then add the blended mix. Stir and allow to cook for about 20 minutes...You will notice that this emerging sauce would have thickened a little.
- Now carefully transfer the emerging sauce back into your blender and allow to blend for about a minute or 2. You will notice the sauce change color from dull red to a bright orange...
- At this stage, heat oil in another cooking pot (or same one but rinse it out first). Then add the re-blended sauce. Turn stove to low-medium heat.
- Now is the time to add all of your wonderful condiments, such as stock or seasonings....Then leave the sauce to develop its tastes and aroma on low heat for about 10-15. You can also adjust your consistency at this stage.
- When this stage is complete, the sauce can be saved in containers until needed.
- To make assorted meat stew or fish etc, add your pre-cooked meat and cook for another 10-15 or so until the meat cooks through and soak up some flavour. Also with raw fish, add some cleaned out fish to the stew and allow to cook until fish cooks through. Serve as you wish.
- You have never tasted anything like it.....!
|Removing seeds from the peppers is the first step to achieving a smooth texture.|
|Twice Blended for a rich and silky smooth texture|