This idea behind this recipe is to re-construct and old dish, and present with a modern flair. Roasted Plantain and Ukpaka (ugba) is commonly eaten across the South Easternern zone of Nigeria. It is a standard before the main meal kind of dish. What colloquially would be called a snack at lunch time, but in professional cooking terms, we call a starter. Normally the Ugba sauce is made separately from the roast plantain. For this recipe, I am combining both elements into one, with additional flavour of crayfish to bind it all together.
I was given this recipe by a reader, she said this is how her grandma makes it. I have wanted to try it for ages now, but couldn’t because I had no Ugba at home. My mega shopping trip to Peckham 2 weeks ago solved all that. I tell you, if you have eaten Plantain and Ugba many times, I bet, you haven’t eaten it like this before. It is so old school amazing, I already have wicked ideas of what to do with the leftovers. Mouth zipped on that for sure though. This is the kind of dish that would take you back to the village. Not like I have that many memories of “the village”, but it felt comforting, the kind of meal grandmothers would make to welcome you. Of course, I had to update it a little to make it mine, and to also present it with a very modern twist. Plantain chips to the rescue. Now, what to call this shape, is the question. Plantain canoe, or U-shaped Plantain Chips or Horse shoe plantain chips, you decide.
You will need
1 ripe plantain
3/4 – 1cup of Ugba (ukpaka)
1 cooking spoon of Palm oil – or slightly under
1 wrap of Ogiri
2 tablespoons of crayfish
A couple of pieces of thin strips of smoked fish
1 teaspoon of Cameroon pepper
1. Peel off the skin of the plantain, rub with a little sunflower oil, and sprinkle on salt and dry pepper. Ensure to rub all over and grill in an oven or barbecue. Alternatively you can buy roasted Boli from street food sellers.
2. Add the ugba and smoked fish into a pot, add a little water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes and take off the heat.
Leave the ugba and smoked fish in the pot and let them sit there till cool.
3. Blend the crayfish and Cameroon pepper in a dry mill and set aside.
5. Get out the plantain from the grill. I deliberately let it burn a little to get that caramelised, sweet smokey flavour, which open fire barbecues produce.
6. While the plantain is still hot, place in a mortar and mash slightly. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you want to get it in mashed chunks and not smooth like baby food.
7. Add the palm oil to the mortar, the heat from the roasted plantain would melt it, then you sieve out the ugba and smoked fish from the water in the pot, and add to the mortar with a little Ogiri.
8. Followed by ground crayfish and Cameroon pepper
9. Combine all together, until the mashed chunks of plantain combines well. Taste for salt and re-season if necessary. I added a pinch of salt, as crayfish is already salty.
This dish is spicy, warm, smokey, salty, aromatic, and very earthy, and oh so traditional. Served with a glass of Palm wine, would just round it up nicely. I would be so bold as to call it a warm salad really. Our very own Nigerian warm salad, the way Abacha is.
And here comes the modern twist, Presentation. I worried for days how to present this. It is not the prettiest of dishes, and that was the challenge for me. How to make this look so interesting and chic. I had it in mind to add plantain chips to give it some crunch, and then I thought wait, serve it on a plantain chips. Naturally, the thick round shape of plantain came to mind, but I thought nah, that is so cliche. Serendipity smiled my way and I found an image online, while I was searching for something else, and I suddenly stopped. Ooooh, I can do that with plantain, and this is how Roasted Plantain and Ugba firmly lands in 2014.
Another modern twist to this dish is that, rather than it being served as a simple lunch, you can bring an old traditional dish into the 21st century by serving it as a crunchy dip for your dinner party. A great accompaniment from the same family of ingredients is plantain chips. Alternatively you can serve with slices of toast bread or crackers.
Whichever way you look at it, the shape changes. here it looks like a plantain chip canoe or gondola. Gosh, I want to go back to Venice.
To the reader who kindly gave me her Grandmother’s recipe. I hope I have made Mama proud. Here was what she sent. “She would roast plantain over her cooking firewood, pound it in a mortar, more like break it cz it won’t be well mashed and mix it with red oil, ogiri, akpaka, salt and pieces of dry of smoked fish(as if you are mixing vegetable yam) and it would taste heavenly. So that’s what I used my boli for and though it didn’t taste as good as grandmas own, it worked its magic. kk”
The Horse Shoe or should we call it U-shaped Plantain Chip
Inspired by the Chocolate curl, I decided to make a Plantain Chip curl. This can be easily picked up by guests on a tray at a dinner party. Master Chef quality for Nigerian food eh.
This is canape week on the blog. Be on the lookout for one more coming up this week. It would literally blow your mind.