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 taste
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finish your Egusi by checking for seasoning and topping with a little water if need be.
Take your beef filet and season with the thyme, curry and onions.
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.
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.
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.
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!