Making Moin-Moin Perfectly
I have not come across that many people who do not enjoy the savoury pudding, made from Nigeria brown beans, traditionally called moin-moin! This very popular dish is also known as olele, and judging from its names, it is clear that this dish is an original Yoruba dish.
Moin-moin is made simply by peeling brown beans (find out more about brown beans here) and milling/grinding the white bean shells with some peppers, onions and seasoning. This is then scooped into containers and steamed. Traditionally large broad leaves are used to hold the milled beans.
The process of making moin-moin could be a little tedious and time consuming and there are several short-cut methods that people are applying to shorten time and effort.
In my circle of friends and family, I am quite well known for my moin-moin dish. They call me in advance to request to eat some when visiting! I generally love dishes made from beans and I can tell you that moin-moin is my most fav dish of them all. I eat it with virtually anything; with rice, fried plantains, asaro, soft textured bread and with its traditional accompaniment, eko and even on its own.
For some moin moin has to have "seven lives" (emi meje) to ascertain its quality. This means that lots of different bitty items such as shrimps, corned beef, fish pieces, beef liver pieces etc, etc, are added to the bean mix before cooking.
For me, its a combination of texture and taste not an overload of bits. Moin-moin must be soft (not dense) but firm, moist (not dry, hard and crumbly) with a subtle taste which is not over powered with seasoning cubes. How do we achieve this? Below are my tricks and tips on making your moin-moin perfectly.
|Moin moin served with Eko|
Selecting your beans: My first choice of beans is a variety called olo 1 or 2. The properties of these beans (which tend to help the moin-moin rise when cooking) really suit this recipe. Oloyin beans are also suitable and they tend to impart a slightly sweet taste to the moin-moin. Jamaican black eye peas are also suitable. I never use bean flour/powder nor the already peeled beans available on the market. They tend to create a dry and hard result.
Prepping: I always peel and mill/blend my beans from scratch. Soaking the beans in water for about 30 minutes will ensure easy removal of the skin on the bean . Gently rubbing them together will also hasten peeling. It requires a little effort but trust me the results will make it well worth it.
Ingredients: Beans and onions are a match made in food heaven! I blend a generous amount of onions with my beans as well as tatase (red sweet pepper). This helps to give the characteristic bright orange colour the moin-moin has. Other ingredients I add include some fresh milk and some whisked eggs. I have experimented with these ingredients in and out of my moin-moin but I have discovered that the eggs and the fresh milk both help to create a really good texture. Use of either is however optional. Rather than add seasoning cubes directly to my moin-moin, I prefer to make a fish or chicken stock with the stock cubes and then add the stock to the moin-moin mix. For me moin-moin need not be overloaded with all sorts of bitty ingredients to be perfect, its about striking a balance in what is just enough.
Processing: I went to school in a town called Abeokuta, well known for moin-moin Isale Ake. I took time to watch how they made their moin-moin and what I found out was that before steaming, the moin-moin mix/blend underwent a prolonged/continuous process of mixing. Much like whisking an egg or mixing a cake batter adequately to get a good rise in the cake, the prolonged mixing helps to aerate the moin-moin mix and subsequently enhance the texture of the moin-moin when cooked. I usually mix my moin-moin blend for approx 5 minutes after all the ingredients have been added, before scooping into containers and steaming. Also, during mixing, in order to adjust thickness, I add hot (not boiling) water, never cold water.
Cooking: Moin-moin is not moin-moin if it is not steamed.....my opinion. You cannot achieve the perfect moin-moin through baking or boiling, agreed these methods save time, it is actually cutting corners! Nothing wrong with this, however to get that perfect result, you must follow the right method. Ensure you use a good steamer and ensure also that the containers holding the moin-moin are arranged in a way that they can only be touched by steam, not boiling water during the steaming process.
Presentation: Moin-moin wrapped with large broad leaves, with the characteristic triangular shape, is the traditional way to serve it. (by the way, the leaves are believed to impart some flavours which cannot really be replicated and I agree). Due to its consistency, the moin-moin mix will take the shape of any container its cooked in so use different containers to create exciting and visually appealing moulds/shapes. Using such may also help with portion control.
Utensil: Invest in a good quality high powered blender so that the beans can be well blended into a smooth paste as against the grainy one produced by low wattage blenders. Invest also in a proper steaming pot. For me ramekins or soufflé dishes have proved to be a really handy and tidy way to cook your moin-moin. The come in various size and you can source the ones which hold just enough portion for one person! (See link below.)
Try my Moin-Moin Recipe.
What you need
- 2 cups of Nigerian brown beans (olo 1 or 2, oloyin varieties)
- 1 medium red pepper, remove stalk and chop into chunks
- 1 very large onion or two medium sized ones, cut into quarters
- 1 scotch bonnet chilli (optional), remove seeds and stalk
- 1 large egg
- Half a cup of fresh milk (this helps to create a good texture in the moin moin)
- Some cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- Some hard boiled eggs, remove shell (the size of the ramekins will determine how many eggs to boil. Aim o include one egg for each portion)
- Make some fish or chicken stock with some seasoning cubes, you will need about 1 cup of this stock
- Salt to taste
What to do:
Soak beans in water for about 30 minutes. Peel the skin off beans by rubbing together to reveal the white bean shells. Discard the skin and rinse well.
Blend beans with the pepper, tomato paste and onions. Add up to two cups of water to aid blending; adding a little at a time ensure you to not add too much. Use warm/hot (not boiling water) preferably.
Transfer blend into a mixing bowl and mix continuously for about 3 minutes. Add the milk and the stock and mix well. Taste for salt and add a little if required. Don't worry if the moin-moin tastes as though there isn't enough salt. When cooked, the taste becomes enhanced.
Whisk the raw egg briskly before adding to the moin-moin mix. Stir in and also add 2-3 serving spoons of vegetable oil, (you may add more or less as preferred). Give the blend another 2-3 minutes continuous mixing.
Scoop the blend into the ramekins or soufflé cups and add one boiled egg into each cup.