First of all, Hi Five if you were raised by an Ijebu Grandmother. Honestly, we need to have our own fan club or something, because it is truly a privilege to have or in my case, to have had an Ijebu grandmother in your life. Whichever part of Ijebuland, your grandmother was from, please happily join the fan club. I got a good friend of mine Yemi Oladipo, who we fondly call Mama Yemi to make this poster. Mama Yemi has all sorts of talents, did I tell you she has 5 beautiful girls who are super brainy and talented too. I am sure one or two of them plus her came up with this poster. Big hugs Mama Yemi, I appreciate you.
I am always, always, looking to add stew recipes to the blog. I think the Nigerian Red Stew is one of the most underrated of our dishes and I am glad, I have been able to showcase it in different ways. Who said stew has to be boring?
Why is it named Mama Adeola’s stew? Well, this recipe was gotten from Olusola Sanni and this is his grandmother’s recipe. I saw the picture of stew on Facebook, it looked nice, scrolled on by and forgot about it. Then I saw it on again 2 days after on top of the news feed. Clicked on the comments and saw the recipe. The very first thing that came to my mind were words in Yoruba (yes, I think in Yoruba sometimes, lol). ‘Obe arugbo, lobe yi, Obe Iya Ijebu pa pa. In English – I can spy an old woman’s touch in this. Like a very old woman. An Ijebu woman for that matter. My foodie spider senses were really buzzing because it reminded me of my grandmothers Alapa Stew. While Iye Gbuyi used Iru and Smoked Fish, Mama Adeola used Iru and Stockfish powder. I didn’t even know that Sola was a He, and I also didn’t read the caption atop the picture. When I scrolled back up again and read the caption, I saw Ijebu Ode, my grand mum. BOOM!!!! You can’t imagine the whoop, whoop I said out loud. I was Corrrrrrrrrrect. I swear those Ijebu grandmothers must know each other somehow or have some town hall meeting we the younger generation didn’t know about.
What also made me want to try it was because of something Sola wrote, which my mum has always said, and which she too picked up from her mum (Iye Gbuyi). Your Pepper selection. My mother drummed this into my ears from very early on. The secret to any great tasting stew is your pepper selection. No two ways about it. When the pepper is boiling, you will already get a fairly accurate hint of what the end result will taste like. This is evident when you make Buka Stew. It starts from the pepper selection, so when I saw Sola write the same thing too, I thought Hi five, you were raised by an Ijebu Grandmother. We know ourselves. Looooooooool. LIke with Buka Stew too, Palm Oil and Vegetable Oil was used. This recipe was so up my alley, I knew cooking it would be a breeze. But first things first, I sent him a message, asking for permission to not just try out the recipe, but blog about it. Very important. He agreed, even added a couple of extra tips about bleaching the palm oil and I was good to go. So, while you scroll through the recipe below, If you have Ijebu blood flowing through your veins from a grandmother connection. Hi Five to you. Our grandmamma’s threw it down in the kitchen and we were fed with very good food, it defined our taste buds. This is why it irritates me when I hear ignorant sentences like Yoruba women cannot cook. Really?????? How many Yoruba women have you met?
Since Easter is upon us, I decided what’s the best time than this to introduce another stew. Especially as I know many would have been discouraged from attempting my Trilogy Stew due to the duration of cooking. Well, here is an amazing alternative. Something to wow your guests. I amended bits and bobs of Sola’s recipe.
You will need
6 – 7 pieces of Tatashe
5 ripe tomatoes Tomatoes
5 pieces of Ata rodo – habanero pepper/scotch bonnet
1 and a half pieces of red Onions
2 cooking spoons of Ground crayfish
3 cooking spoons of Ground Stockfish Powder
2 heaped tbs of Iru
Sunflower oil – or your choice of cooking oil
Smoked Goat Meat with the skin on
Goat Meat Stock
As mentioned before, this recipe is quite easy peasy. If you are familiar with stew recipes already on the blog, this just switches things up a little, to delicious results. No one prepared me for chomping up bits of stockfish to grind into a powder though. Sheeeeesh. I wanted to give up and cheat, but for the sake of whose recipe it was, an Ijebu woman, I had to pay respects and follow it to the letter. If you have no such qualms, I will list a cheat way out to save you from the hassle.
He also wrote about grinding the pepper the traditional way using a stone. Errrrrrr, sorry Mama Adeola, ain’t no way in *cough* *cough* is that going to happen, even if I had access to one. I love being a woman in 2014, I love being a cook in 2014. In the words of John Legend – “love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections (love that song ‘All of Me’ by the way). Dooney’s Kitchen equivalent, with the melody humming in my head, “Love my gadgets and my devices, all their stress free perfections. Hehehehehehehehe.
1. Rinse and season your Goat meat with salt and seasoning cubes. Bring your Goat Meat to boil and cook to soften. Sola’s Tip: he recommended using goat meat for this and I so agree. I even took it further by using smoked goat meat with the skin on. The real ‘ogunfe’ as Yoruba people call it. You also need to start on this the day before you cook the stew to allow the goat meat absorb more flavour from its own stock. I made this the night before.
2. Prepare the stockfish powder. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip; to save yourself the trouble the next day, better do this now, trust me. Here’s my experience:
I flaked off bits of the head of stockfish because as my Igbo people say, that is the real ‘okporoko’. The head has more flavour than the rest of the body. Sola’s mum does not agree. They have thiis argument all the time, and he knows he can cook better than her. In his words “she gave up the competition 4 years ago” Hahahahahahahaha. Sola is a caterer by the way and cooks amazing food, you need to see his pictures. Free advert for you Bros, honestly, I should start charging people for a mention. Hehehehehehehehehe.
I sat down with this thing at stupid o’clock in the early hours of the morning battling with to flake the meaty bits. Sheeeesh, even after managing to flake some, with a powerful mill from a food processor 850W, not all the pieces ground into a fine powder. I had to pass it through a mesh sieve to get the powder. Stockfish is gangster. I bow. Those Norwegians sure know how to dry the hell out of fish. You didn’t know Stockfish came from Norway? Oh yes it does. Big shame on Nigeria. To avoid this stress, please just boil your goat meat with stockfish, and also add that boiled stockfish to the stew from scratch. Problem solved. You still get the flavour without fighting with an inanimate animal. Lol
That’s your prepping done for the day. You could also blend the iru and ingredients for the pepper mixture you need and place in the fridge. To blend, you only need a very rough blend. Remember, we are 2014 cooks, and we are only mimicking the gruelling grind stone method (ugh, the thought gives me shivers). Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: only keep the engine running for a few seconds at a time and don’t over fill the blender, otherwise the bottom bits will get a smooth blend, while the top will be rough. Sola’s Cooking Tip:you don’t need to pre-boil the pepper.
D-day for cooking is here, as you can see, the goat meat has been chilling nicely in its own stock. You can choose to scrape off the fat if you wish.
3. Take out the goat meat and fry or Grill. for the first time since I made Alapa, I fried meat. I wanted to go with Mama Adeola’s recipe. I will be grilling next time
4. Heat up 3 – 4 cooking spoons of palm oil in a pot to bleach it, and by bleach it Sola’s Cooking Tip: you only need to bleach the palm oil to the point it begins to darken, but still retains undertones of orange i.e. don’t bleach till it turns black as you would do with Ayamase. He suggested to do a white paper test.
See, the palm oil has darkened but with orange highlights
white paper test. Brown but still orangey
5. Pour in the ground crayfish and stockfish powder.
allow to fry for 2 – 3 minutes
you would start to see the palm oil foam and you will smell the intense flavour of the crayfish and stockfish powders frying. A very native smokey, fishey flavour. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: Stir and be careful not to let it burn.
6. Add the pepper to the pot and sunflower oil used to fry the goat meat. If you grilled your meat instead, just pour oil from the bottle into the pot and let it fry for a bit. Roughly 7 – 10 minutes.
Then add the stock and let it fry for another 5 minutes. By then, the pepper should start to show signs of the beginning of the fried stew look, but it is not yet ready.
With further time on medium heat, it fries more and starts to resemble thickly fried stew. See how roughly ground the pepper is. Grinding stone who?
7. You know it is time to add the goat meat, when oil floats back to the top and pepper stock bubbles are pooling in the middle i.e. the more watery bits of the pot
see what I mean
8. The meats are in now, cover the pot, leave it on medium heat and just walk away and leave it to do its thing. It will further fry and keep reducing. Further 15 minutes in, open the pot and you should have this pale orangey stew will lots and lots of water bubbles scattered all over the place. What i noticed when I got to this stage was that the oil sta on top like a film, while the bubbles were kinda poking through. Unlike with other stews where the oil floats around on top in patches.
I went to take a peek at Sola’s picture and yup. Mine looked exactly like that. In retrospect, I think it is because I added more vegetable oil than palm oil because the filmy on the surface look is characteristic of cooking with transparent oils, as they don’t have the same density and weight unlike Palm oil.
By this point, you are done. Believe it or not, your stew has fried. All you need to do is stir and you would see the rich pebbly look that is so characteristic of well fried stew, or as Yoruba people say ‘obe din din’ or ‘obe ata din din’.
See what I mean?
To really appreciate the glorious beauty of this stew, I implore you to serve in a white bowl.
and watch your friends and family go Aaaaaah, lovely stew. Get me rice please
The aroma, trust me, you want to make this. The Iru is there, but it is not strong like with Ayamase. The harmony of the ground crayfish and stockfish, true symphony.
The stew has this fine smell like this, very attractive. Don’t you just want to eat that with rice?
To even get it more authentic Ijebu, serve with Ofada Rice atop of moin moin leaves. I tell you, I was a very happy bunny last night. If you live in the UK, it is not too late to order Clevenard Ofada rice for Easter. At £4.49 for 1kg, this is not inclusive of the 10% discount for Dooney’s Kitchen readers, it is truly a steal. To order Ofada rice online, click HERE