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BN Cuisine with Chef Fregz: Naija Eats, The Fine Dining Edition – Main | Michellin Starred Egusi

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Bo Ko My BN Pipo. (‘Hello to my BN Cuisine people’ in my bad Itsekiri. Forgive me… I’m only trying to be patriotic)
I decided to dig deep today and greet you all in my native tongue which I sadly do not speak very well. Okay, I lie. I dont speak at all, but I swear it, I can greet in my language that’s all. This is the story of many Itsekiri children. *side eye*

Well moving on swiftly… since we are here for rocking food and not language class.

This month on BN Cuisine we are celebrating the rich culture of food we have a country and steeping it up a notch by giving it a fine dining facelift.

Today I have gone for something super simple. Of course I added some of my Chef senrenrent o it.

Egusi is one of my favourite soups. I love how it actually tastes sweet like they put sugar inside. I mean Banga soup is the King, but Egusi can be used also to sell my birthright!

I’m sure most of you know how to cook egusi already, but this time we hope by the time we are done with series you can invite your friends over and form Michelin Starred Chef food but it’s all Nigerian!

I paired my Egusi with Semovita. I feel it goes very well with the Egusi especially when you don’t have power to pound your yam. Choose whatever “swallow” you prefer, but be sure to follow my plating idea.

This Egusi is what we Chefs would call “deconstructed”. I have cooked the elements of the soup in different/separate ways but when it comes together in your mouth it is the familiar taste of Egusi we all know. The recipe below follows the version my assistant Moses and I agreed on. A little of his method and mine. However, you can use whatever process rocks your boat.

What You Need (Serves 2-3 | or 1 if you don’t do fine dining style)
1 cup ground egusi
2-3 tablespoons of crayfish
Smoked fish or stock fish (I prefer smoked)
Ponmo cut into small pieces. Unfortunately it’s now banned.
3/4 cup palm oil
1-2 tablespoons Locust Beans (iru) washed and chopped roughly or finely ground
6 tablespoons ground chilli pepper /ata rodo plus tatashe (red bell pepper) to taste
3-4 tablespoons chopped/ground onions
Seasoning cube to taste (I used Knorr Chicken but The Classic or Beef as most people know it works even better I think)
Salt and White pepper to tasteIMG_3380

The Beef
1 Beef Fillet
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon onions or onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
2-3 Chunky Shiny Nose Fish Chunks (I got mine from Fish Shop. You can also get from any market where they sell good meaty fish)
salt or seasoning cube to taste.
1 cup Ugwu leaves finely shredded
Extra leaves for garnish
3/4 cup vegetable oil for deep frying (Please feel free to use your dodo oil for this. The deep frying is for a few seconds, so there’s no need to “waste” fresh oil. Yes, this is what I did)

How To
Take your egusi and mix with a few tablespoons of water. Add a tablespoon each of pepper, crayfish and onions to it. Mix well till it is a thick paste.

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In a saucepan, fry the ponmo in a bit of palm oil. Fry for about 1 minute and take out. Then top up the oil a little and fry the remaining pepper and onions for about 30 seconds.IMG_3429

Add the egusi by using slightly wet hands to roll the paste into small balls. I do it like this so I can have the egusi as chunky as possible. This is a personal preference. Add a splash of water because it starts to burn slightly.IMG_3462

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Add the dried fish, ponmo, iru, a little more crayfish and seasoning and a touch more water and reduce the heat and allow simmer for another 10 minutes.

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While that is happening, pour some palm oil in a fry pan and place the beef you have now cut into medallions.  Sear on one side for about a minute or till nicely coloured, then add the fish and cook for another 2 minutes or however you like your fish and meat done.

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IMG_3545In the spirit of Nigeria I cooked my fillet as long as I could till I ensured its rebirth sef. While it fries, add some chilli and crayfish for the soup flavour.

When it is ready, take it out; to the pan residue add the shredded uwgu leaves and stir fry till it’s cooked and wilted slightly. Turn off the heat.

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Finish your Egusi by checking for seasoning and topping with a little water if need be.

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The Beef.

Take your beef filet and season with the thyme, curry and onions.

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Lay some cling film over your countertop and place the beef towards the end that’s close to you. Roll the beef, but don’t allow the cling film roll into itself. As you go along, release the cling film that should go in… out. Once you have the meat in a good roll, roll altogether and tie at both ends like a sweet.

IMG_3460 IMG_3522 Place in the freezer to harden a little. Cut 3 inch pieces off and it would give you nice medallions of beef to sear and serve with your dish.

Make your semovita according to packet instructions and wrap in some polythene bag that has been splashed with a little oil water mixture so it doesn’t stick. Allow the Semovita to cool down till it’s hard. I went for cubes, but you can go for any shape you like.

To make the crispy ugwu leaves just heat up the oil, and drop the leaves maybe two at a time in the oil for about 5 seconds and bring out to drain on a kitchen towel or serviette.

My plating is inpired by all the chefs I see on @theartofplating on Instagram. Yes, serving food on one side is in.

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To plate like I did, just carefully place the cubes of semovita to the side of the plate. Place the fish and meat next to the semovita. Spoon the egusi soup by all the sides of the meat, fish and semovita. Top with the sautéed ugwu, some fresh chilli peppers, and bits of the smoked fish and ponmo not forgetting the crispy ugwu leaves.

I was going to toast my fresh melon seeds and add to the dish for texture but forgot to be very honest. But it’s not by force.

The biggest thanks to Adebayo Rotilu for always coming through for me. Please find him on Instagram @twelve05photos @twelve05impressions and see his magic!

Again thanks to my Omo Lowo Sibi, The grandmama of New Nigerian food The berriful! Dunni Obata! she came to see me and couldn’t but help out with the shoot as well. She is such a pleasure! Although she gifted more with Bayo asper photographer things!

Akintayotimi was there to eat…nothing else! But thank you bro for coming through.

Moses Mohammed my fast rising trainee was pivot to this shoot because he more or less did everything because my burnt fingers were still recovering.

Thank you to Matse for the great post last week! Can’t wait for next week’s post already! It’s from my Canadian sister Lohi!

Happy Independence and God Bless Nigeria!

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.

23 Comments

  1. Jane

    October 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Looks fabulous daaarling… Loves the square semo…eccentric, but works.

  2. Jane

    October 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Oh, now I’m thinking triangles…pentagons…it’s on…

    Nigerwifediary.blogspot.com

  3. yeancah

    October 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Nice one Chef Fregz… but ehn this one no go bellefull person nah….. nah oyinbo servings be that pishure so ooo…. eh hen…. loved the step by step details.

  4. zzzzzzzz

    October 10, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Curry and thyme in any Nigerian soup e.g Egusi, Okro or Ogbono is a complete no no for me.

    • iba

      October 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      Well, well i guess there is always a new way to go about these things so i am still trying to let this sink in. LOL. Fried pomo, curry in egusi soup, crispy ugu leaves? LOL I’ think i’d pass sha but i love the presentation. Thats d chef’s touch for sure.

    • abd

      October 11, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Naija meat is tasty even if u just cook it with salt but if u are not in Nigeria, curry and thyme is necessary to give meat a better taste oo.

    • zem

      October 11, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      actually when you put curry or thyme inside Egunsi it gives it a wonderful taste. tastes like all those party egunsi. lol.. you should try it out.

  5. Eagle

    October 10, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I hate to be the one to break this to you chef but this doesn’t look appetising.

  6. Tosin

    October 10, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Nna, some of us like eating, but not really interested in the process. Una fit open restorant for us?

  7. NaijaPikin

    October 10, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Looks good but too much oil and too much frying for me.

  8. @edDREAMZ

    October 10, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    a.k.a EDWIN CHINEDU AZUBUKO said…
    .
    Niceone man but yu no too try for this one….
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  9. wanda

    October 10, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Looks good, but d semo is too small naahh…
    But wud def try it out 😉

  10. i no send

    October 11, 2014 at 9:59 am

    really chef fregz?? its a no for me

  11. oly

    October 11, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Is it just me that feels something ain’t right about this pix. Chef the plate doesn’t do content well in my own eyes sha… Welll kudos to your creativity!!!

  12. Nkiru

    October 11, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    This soup no be am at all at all. Hw d semo go fit pass d throat when small water no dey d soup? Na only fry fry, egusi wey get oil. These days pple are conscious of what they eat. Curry and thyme soup, if na stew, ok, but soup no way. This oyibo method of cooking, I guess, no b naija method. Anyway thumbs up, u are creative.

  13. www.anemistyle.com

    October 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Presentation wise… a white plate square or rectangular plate would have been better for nice contrast. Also you could do a 3 layer presentation of beef medallion, round cut semo or garri(medallion shaped) and the egusi on top with some fresh oregano leaves . #nomnom

  14. Gastro

    October 11, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Complete and utter rubbish …. Stick to what you know abeg !! ….. Was actually looking forward to something authentic and original

  15. lola

    October 11, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    chef…must we do it oyinbo style.?..u can stil do it a little closer to d traditional style d way chinese do thiers and get it recognised internationally.. honestly this is trash in my opinion…and very unappealing! my two kobo!

  16. DatEnuguChic

    October 13, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Chef, is this one for tasting or what? Biko make my egusi with okpei and ugu leaves and serve with eba. Nothing more nothing less

  17. madam

    October 13, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Chef, why don’t you update your blog ?

  18. Dede

    October 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    lol.. Is this the new way to serve semo? square shaped?. lol..

  19. Mrs

    October 16, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    it looks rather too dry for my liking. Totally agree with “DatEnuguChic

  20. madam

    October 31, 2014 at 11:03 am

    so glad i tried this, worked for me, my family enjoyed it..thank u chef

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