I realised yesterday that I hadn’t blogged in a week. I had some personal ish to take care of, besides it felt good to take a break while making and following up on plans for expansion. Have a bad case of the flu this weekend but decided to type this up during the short window of time the paracetamol and peppersoup are working their magic, before it’s back to lying down and feeling crappy when their effect wears off. Today, I am bringing you something exciting to try this weekend, a new twist on our well-known and loved Yam Pottage.
I made this for a client months ago as part of my Meal Drop off Service. When she sent me an email with Yam Pottage on the list, I told myself, Dunni, do something different with this. Anyone in the food business reading this must be thinking, huh? Try something different for a client service. Why would you take such a risk? What if it didn’t turn out great, experiments are best left for food for your mouth and your mouth alone. While in a way that may be true, but I always welcome a food challenge. Because I know it is for a client, I dot all my i’s and cross my t’s when experimenting, and this one did not disappoint at all. I am sure she tasted it and probably is still wondering what I put in it that made it so different.
Food Fusion should be my motto, re-inventing Nigerian food is what I love to do, and I thought to myself, I need to make Yam Pottage more fragrant. The flavour of smoked fish is not enough, yes you can also use aromatic vegetables like Uziza or Efinrin but I wanted something different. It should still look like Yam Pottage but with that something extra, that kick, especially from a strange place. Oh, I ruminated on many ideas, I was about to give up, then I spied Lemon grass in the vegetable section of the fridge. Ding! Ding! Ding!. I swear, for a second there, I thought, Dunni you are just cray cray. Lemon grass in Yam Pottage, with all the flavours of the smoked fish, pepper, crayfish and uziza, hmmmmn, be careful o. The naughty side of me shrugged off any reservations and I went for it. Oh my goodness, it was good, people, it was better than good. This is Yam Pottage like you have never tasted before, trust me. I was so sad to let it all go. You see, for my Meal Drop off Service, depending on the size you order, it has a fixed amount of 500ml bowls, so as I was scooping it into the bowls, a part of me was wringing my hands, hoping I would get some left for myself. Alas, no such thing. All that was left were miserly tablespoonfuls. I was not a happy bunny at all. I know it was not a fluke, it will still taste great the next time I make it, so I will just wait till then and enjoy a massive pot of Thailand meets 9ja in Yam Pottage.
Lemon grass is undoubtedly Thai. It brings a sourness and an aroma to the dish that is simply sublime. The aroma, people, the aroma. If you have ever tried my Coconut Rice recipe, you will know EXACTLY what I am talking about. Better rush to buy Lemon grass in the supermarket this weekend and try it out. You won’t go back to bland boring tasting Yam Pottage again. If you live in Nigeria, the closest thing to lemon grass probably would be Achara, sold by the Igbo vegetable sellers in the market. I could be wrong, but the little I have read about Achara, and the fragrant way it was described, I think, I think it could be close to lemon grass. I believe I have explained the ingredients, now let’s get to cooking.
You will need
1 medium tuber of yam
Boiled and blended mixed pepper – the volume you need will depend on the size of the yam and how much yam pottage you intend to make
Smoked Fish and Fish stock
Handful of chopped Uziza
1 stalk of Lemon grass
Smoked red prawns
Chopped Kale or Ugu
1. Heat up palm oil in a pot, add chopped onions, pour in the pepper and beef stock. Allow it to fry properly. In this pot, my pepper mix compresses off Tatashe (red bell pepper), rd onion, enough ata rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero pepper) and a little tomatoes. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: I should probably state here that you may do yam pottage differently, by making it a one pot dish, pouring everything into the pot and letting it cook till it thickens. I do mine slightly differently. I fry the pepper first in Palm oil and make sure it is well fried, as we all know, fried pepper is intensely delicious. I have another recipe for Yam and Plantain Pottage. Click HERE for the recipe
2. Allow the pepper to fry properly till it thickens
3. While the pepper is frying, boil your smoked fish with a little water and a pinch of salt. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: this is to soften the fish and also generate some fish stock for use.
Now you should have your fish stock and your fried pepper. Lower the heat on both and proceed to peeling the Yam tuber and cut in big enough cubes
4. In one pot, combine the fried pepper, fish stock, smoked red prawns, ground crayfish, cubed yam, salt, adjust for seasoning cubes if needed and enough water to slightly cover the yam, with enough room for the top bits to peek out.
Add the stalk of Lemon grass or Achara and cover the pot
5. Leave it cook and boil. In about 10minutes or under, you will notice that the stock has started to thicken, you should also smell the Lemon grass or Achara.
6. You need to allow the stock to thicken while the yam also cooks through. By the time you can feel the yam softening, using a wooden spoon, break up the big chunks one yam into smaller chunks, while you try to mash some of the smaller chunks to further thicken the stock. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip The more you mash, the thicker it becomes. Personal preference will come into play here. Some like yam pottage really thick and creamy with chunks of yam, others like it watery
7. Once you’ve gotten the consistency that you want, add the smoked fish, more crayfish if you wish, chopped Kale or Ugu, and salt (if needed).
don’t forget the chopped Uziza leaves. if you can’t find Uziza, use Basil instead
Cover the pot and lower the heat, to allow the extra flavours combine beautifully for a few more minutes. 2 – 3 max and that’s your Yam Pottage done. Open the pot and savour the aroma. Just take a few seconds to take it all in. That aroma, I repeat, that aroma. The subtle lemon grass, combining with the smoked fish, uziza and crayfish. A true symphony of Nigerian and Asian flavours, all in one pot. Do yourself even more justice by making this a tad spicy. Oooooooh, wicked, wicked, wicked.
Here’s a shot of the Chunky bit
Here’s the creamy bit
Serve, by sprinkling over the top extra bits of chopped Kale