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BN Cuisine with Chef Fregz: Seafood Ayamase

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Salut a Toutes!

Today I have a confession to make. I am not over my green chilli addiction. After the sweet version I had to try a straight up hot recipe. So what did my food mind remember? The day I randomly stopped over at my friend’s place. Baby girl had just cooked this “ayamase” stew and there was a fresh pot of steaming hot rice. Guys, I had just finished lunch but guess who decided to “taste” the stew… Yes ding! ding!! ding!!! You guessed right… me! The stew was super. I mean I finished the food before my head remembered to post on Instagram. I think I shed tears of joy that day. It was that good. Of course Dupe refused to divulge her secrets, but I told her, “shift… I shall learn it“. So after much posing and even much more begging and serious toasting she finally gave me some tips on how to make the stew. I never made the stew till one fateful night.

I decided to clean out my fridge and freezers and my goodness there were loads of clams, scallops, pork tenderloin, beef steaks, fish cutlets, shrimps and so on and from Chef Fregz Special. There were also a lot of green chillies for the dirty rice. So here I was with all these ingredients and what to do?

At night my eyes peeped a bottle of palm oil and boom! The above story I narrated came to me and I decided for the first time since 2009 I decided to make “ayamase”. This time with all this seafood I have. So after much coughing and a war zone like amount of smoke, the pepper and onions fried, then the pre-fried seafood things went in. I added a few Knorr cubes and salt. In my case I introduced some ginger and garlic and voila! My stew was ready. It was even a hit with my mum and that was all the validation I needed.

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After feeling super confident I made another batch and sent to Dupe saying “Master of Ayamse please try my stew o”. Mehn I won’t lie, that day my seasoning was off and as much as I don’t want to agree with her, she offered some tips to “make it” taste like hers (a.k.a better). Her tips were to season a bit more and boil my ingredients before frying it. So I tried it again, watching out for my seasoning and doing the boiling the pepper before putting it in. I must confess it makes a difference but at the same time I would say my method and hers give a different feel in the mouth. So it’s down to what you prefer at the end of the day. Again, I wasn’t trying to recreate Dupe’s stew, I made mine. It’s my own take on the popular stew. I dare to be different.

Story time over.

Here’s what you need
2 1/2 – 3 cups palm oil
1 – 1 1/2 Kilo Green Thai Chillies or Green Shombo Chillies coarsely/roughly ground
5-6 Large Green Bell Peppers coarsely ground
4 large onions coarsely ground
3 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 knob ginger finely chopped
4 knorr cubes
salt to taste
8-10 Fish Steaks or pieces
500g or a kilo shrimp
6 – 8 snails (I bought the pre cleaned ones that you find these days in frozen dept in stores)

You can use whatever fish or seafood you have there are no real rules here. However, if you’re using fish steaks or pieces, I recommend you pan sear/fry it first in some palm oil before you add it to the stew. This is to prevent it from falling apart in the stew. I used some snail in my recipe that went in from the beginning as it would take a longer time to cook. Prawns and things like shrimp can go in at a later time time closer to the end of the cooking time – because those don’t need so much time to cook.

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At the time of the shoot I had only what I’ve listed, but the on the accident night I had some clams and scallops. So, feel free to allow your imagination run wild. I don’t advice squid/calamari, because it would go rubbery in the stew.

Before we head into the steps, you have to super careful with the bleaching oil phase. I recommend you turn off your fire alarm and also open all the windows in your house. Even better if you have an open kitchen outside – that’s the best.

Place your oil and leave to heat up on a high heat for about 12-15 minutes or just till you put a piece of paper in it and it turns clear or the colour of regular vegetable oil (without the yellow tinge from palm oil). This belching stage isn’t cute at all. Please if you’re asthmatic or have breathing problems please don’t attempt this. Just get someone to cook it for you to enjoy. Also, please have a glass of water nearby in case the coughing gets too much.

How To
Take the onions and peppers and boil for 10-15 minutes or till most of the liquid has evaporated. On the other hand, you could just fry it straight away and cook for a longer time in the oil.

Take your boiled or raw pepper mixture and pour into the smoking hot oil that has reached it’s bleaching stage. You could do this one spoon at a time, but it’s better you pour in the whole thing at once so it starts to fry all at the same time.

Allow that to simmer away. While that it simmering away. Pan fry whatever protein that you need to – depending on what you decide to use. In this case I have used fish, snails, shrimps. Just know when to put them in. Seafood is usually delicate so don’t treat it like meat that can withstand long hours of cooking.

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The stew needs to be stirred every other 15 minutes or so scrapping the bottom so it doesn’t burn. The stew would go from a bright green to a dark looking sauce. Do not be worried if it’s looking black; it’s supposed to look dark but taste amazing. Be sure to season at this stage and stir and allow bubble away. At the end check for seasoning be sure to season with salt and not just seasoning cube as salt rounds up the flavour of the whole stew.

The stew take about 30 minutes to 40 minutes to cook. Be sure to lower the heat after the first 10 minutes of cooking.

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Ground Rice was my side of choice feel free to enjoy yours with whatever you feel like. Rice never fails abi? But try using this stew to make an egg sauce for yam…tres yum! 5D3_1197

Let me know how yours turned out and whose method you used… i.e cooking out the pepper first before frying or frying straight away.

Before I go, let me quickly mention the cooking class I’m putting together next week, from the 19th to the 22nd of August.  The registration is still open.

The biggest thanks goes to my dearest Beatrice Lawale aka Miss Benedetto of Benedetto Photography and Adebayo Rotilu of Twelve 05 Photography They are the best food photographers in Nigeria right now. Beatrice is London-based but if you have her Aunty Elizabeth she will fly down. Check out Beatrice’s work and be sure to check out Adebayo’s page on Instagram @twelve05photos Facebook: twelve05photography.

Truffle Regards

Chef Fregz loves to cook! He is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris Culinary Arts School in France and hosts monthly “Chef Fregz Specials” where he whips up a yummy menu with a different theme each time then everyone enjoys a taste. He also caters special events and private dinners. To find out more visit www.cheffregz.com. Chef Fregz provides premium private catering services. For bookings and orders email [email protected] – @Chef_Fregz on Instagram and Twitter. You can check out the Chef Fregz Page on Facebook as well.

28 Comments

  1. www.ANEMISTYLE.com

    August 15, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Looks amazing!! However that palm oil (heart stopper) scares me though can this be made without that much oil?

    • Tosin

      August 16, 2014 at 9:39 am

      I don’t think palm oil is that bad for you. It’s food. The pictures look amazing, I’m craving edikaikong now.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      August 16, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      Here’s a tip, if it’s any use to you, luv.

      Like you, I’m very cautious about measuring the health properties of what’s on my plate (Naija food or otherwise). So when I eat Ayamase, I try and offset the richness of the stew by using a dollop of it to stir fry veg (the kind you buy in packs from Tesco or Asda) and swapping the rice for white beans instead.

      I’ve probably desecrated the stew by using it in this manner but it works for me. 🙂

    • Fregene Gbubemi

      August 18, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      Hi Dear…. Truth is because you need the pepper to “fry” you need to use that much oil. What i recommend is you drain as much as you can yourself and use that oil for something else or discard it. and when the pepper fries it goes thicker and settles and th soil just comes to the top. so sometimes its not so much oil too.

  2. Mademoiselle

    August 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Ohhh how did you know I have been craving this??? Was just talking to some friends about ayamase last night!

  3. ebzzgifted

    August 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    EXACTLY my fear too……palm oil makes my heart skip when I smell it,…. think of allll that cholesterol and all…….Chef, wot happened to our fit fam na?

    • Jane Public

      August 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Palm oil doesn’t contain any cholesterol. It is impossible for it to. Cholesterol is only found in animal products. Palm oil is a plant based product. #googleisyourfriend

    • Annie

      August 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      I just did, google says 100 grams of palm oil is = to 884 calories. 😐

    • Annie

      August 15, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Actually my mistake. How did i read cholesterol as calories biko? *sigh* Back to google for the right info…

    • Girl

      August 15, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Either way its saturated fat which is still terrible for you… bleaching it makes it even worse ie carcinogenic .
      Sha, we eat it and enjoy it even though we know all of this, we accept it flaws and all.

    • maria

      August 15, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      HaHa jane it does oh more than anyother cooking oil it just has health benefits

    • Fregene Gbubemi

      August 18, 2014 at 8:43 pm

      My dear…. not everyday fitfam sometimes cheat day and jollofing ! ha!

  4. @edDREAMZ

    August 15, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said…
    .
    This is really tasty and no doubt am hungry nw…..
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  5. Gorgeous

    August 15, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    4 maggi ke, i will pass. I dont cook with maggi anymore. If you have the right spices and good salt, all that deathly MSG is not needed. I love ayamase, but i cook without maggi, and prefer to use iru as a substitute. And all my soups are heavenly…

    • Thatgidigirl

      August 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      I also was wondering where iru comes in, thats part of what gives it the native flavour. He might wanna substitute ginger for iru next time, considering its not an oriental meal. Those snails sha *tears, i miss naija.

    • Fregene Gbubemi

      August 18, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Hey… ire i find doesn’t really go with seafood but you could try it. Also ginger is just as nigerian as asian what do you think is in your suya spice mix? I know many homes that boil their chicken with ginger… if you feel its too Asian for you no probe just take the idea and make sure your snails are super succulent !!

    • Fregene Gbubemi

      August 18, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      Hey Gorgeous… this debate of msg or no msg… like you said its down to a personal preference. I find ire goes well or better with meat not so much meat. again thats what i expect from a reader not following it so word for word…. I’m happy you are going to do your own version. as far as the food is sweet you achieved something!

  6. 9jafoodie

    August 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Yummy…….looks really good chef.

  7. efe

    August 15, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Chef Fregz…………u are the MAN. Just passed bye some green pepper and was thinking what can l make out of this and u just solved it.

  8. Bex

    August 15, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I season mine with iru and a cube of maggi depending on quantity. Iru gives it that native kick. Lol. I boil the ground peppers for a while before frying it so the stew doesn’t taste raw and to shorten the frying time (have to be careful….cancer et al). I’ve never tried it with seafood though… Will try it.

    bexcoox.blogspot.com

  9. oyaga

    August 15, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Please leave the chef! Its simple tho, if you hate palm oil that much, coz u r weirdly scared that a once in a whiiiillllllle meal of palm oil will make you put on weight, then please pass on the food na, na by force? mschwww

  10. jinkelele

    August 15, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Dunni, has this method for bleaching that works well

    Fregz, as much as prefer iru in ayamase I think with a seafood version iru may not work as well.
    I cant do the green chillies too much pepper, I usually blend a few tomatoes with my peppers just to step it down a bit.
    Frying the pepper mixture first is the best way by far

    • Fregene Gbubemi

      August 18, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      Hi Jinkele… you have a point re: ire which i made as well… also I think you can use more green pepper not chillies and the chillies i used aren’t that hot to be very honest. Tomatoes are a no no in this dish o! just use more onions, green bell peppers and a few chillies… let me know how it pans out….

  11. uzoezi

    August 15, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Palm oil is a healthy oil gotten from naturally occuring palm fruit. its rich in vita A and other nutrients, plus, its nutritional content is good for the skin. All oils contain fat, its unavoidable, though some contain a higher content than others. What is unhealthy, is taking it excessively.

  12. yassbeetch

    August 16, 2014 at 12:31 am

    Canola , sunflower or any ‘healthier’ oil that catches my fancy with 1-2 tablespoon of palmoil does the trick for me and also removes the need for bleaching (which I am not a fan of)

  13. Narnia

    August 25, 2014 at 11:14 am

    This is heaven!!!!!! I love sea food…I prefer it to chicken or any red meat! Nom

  14. Dolapo

    November 13, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Nice twist to Ayamase. It’s very creative and looks delicious, but my Ayamase is not complete without ‘IRU’ locust beans. I didn’t see that on the ingredient list. Try it and you will experience heaven.

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