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BN Cuisine with Chef Fregz: My Sweet Potato

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Bonne Année

2014 is gone and 2015 is here! It felt good to do things like sleep, eat, sleep and more sleep some more after Chef Fregz Special. I thank God for the work during Christmas, but I was almost seeing the white light as some point. But January is here and guess who is ready to do it all over again?!

A lot happened last year. Good and bad; but everything was a contribution to the amazing end it was! Before the new year I signed on as Samsung Ambassador for kitchen appliances the Smart Microwave Oven and Food Display Fridge in particular. But to get the full gist you fast be following on Instagram and Facebook.

Moving swiftly on, what to post today was easy and tough at the same time. Easy, because I had a somewhat plethora of things to choose from, from my freezer even after giving so much food that was leftover from all my events. However, it was hard because I had this chef creative block. I thought to myself but “I’ve done this. I’ve done that! What else” But we thank God for inspiration and Omaka my intern. We were a-go!

Today we are going Italian but with a serious-if-not 100% Nigerian flair! I wanted snail sef to make it to this post, but to be very honest, I didn’t find at the store I usually pick it… already cleaned for me. I was secretly happy because that wait time when boiling could seriously task me!

Anyway, for your visual pleasure and stomach dreams or plain hunger games…we have a Sweet Potato Gnocchi with a Local Green Vegetable leaf, Pesto with Scallops and Shrimp in Palm Oil Chilli Sauce.

On Knorr Taste Quest, I had the privilege and honour to taste one of the contestants creations Bode Akinyoola to be precise. He made a sweet potato and plantain gnocchi with a spicy tomato sauce and tiger prawns. Lord!!!! I couldn’t judge that day because all I wanted to do was lick the bowl and possibly the pot he cooked it on. It was everything, and more. So in between thinking of what to cook after bringing out scallops, my sea bass and shrimps from the fridge, the leftover sweet potato from our smart oven test sessions more or less spoke to me. I was reminded of my KTQ near heaven experience and Omaka also voted in favour of it when I told her about it.

Sauce wise we thought to make a pesto but with a Nigerian green herb/leaves. So we started from Shoko: too efo-riro tasting next! Ewedu: abeg this is not Amala next! Ugwu: biter…pesto would never be a thing.
Innovation isn’t that deep! Then I thought how about “Green”, a Spinach variety leaf/vegetable leaf (as we Nigerian know/call it). It is the mildest of them all, so maybe it would work.

So we proceeded.

What You Need {For the Gnocchi}

Gnocchi
800-850g Sweet potato boiled and grated or mashed finely (This should give you two cups)
1/2 cup semolina or regular flour
1 1/2 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch salt to taste
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Start by boiling the sweet potato. When done, drain off all the water and leave in the pot to steam dry. When dry against a semi fine side of a grater, grate the sweet potato till it is crumbly. You may also pass through the grater attachment in your food processor; if you have power pass through a fine sieve with wooden spoon. Sweet potatoes are tough so easy does it.

Mix with the flour, and place the egg, oil with a splash of water in the centre… and fold all together by hand. Keep mixing like your kneading bread, but do not be too rigorous. Have you extra flour of dusting on standby and sprinkle little by little as you roll the potato flour mix together into a ball.
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Once it has come together wrap in cling film and placce in the fridge for about 30 minutes to rest.

After resting cut the dough into 4 parts and start to roll the shape into a thin long sausage shape. Make sure your surface is lightly floured for easy rolling as you go along. If your dough breaks just let that part break off or roll everything together and roll into the sausage shape again till it agrees with you!
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Once rolled out into a thin long sausage shape, take a floured knife and cut into half inch rounds. I do mine at an angle but you an do your straight. Traditional Gnocchi would have a fork rolled over it to give it an indent so the sauce can stick to it more. Frankly I don’t bother making mine like that too much hassle and the sauce sticks on my gnocchi anyways.
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Place the cut pieces into the boiling water and the minute they rise to the top you know it’s ready. Remove with a slotted and place to one side do not discard all of the pasta water reserve at least a cup of it.

The Shrimp, Scallops and Fish

The Seafood
200g Shrimp (you can use prawns chopped into smaller)
4-5 scallops

In a hot pan, pour about a tablespoon of olive oil, and sear the scallops on one side. Throw in the shrimp to start to cook. Almost immediately, add your pepper sauce. As little or as much as you would like. I would recommend just a little. We really loved the subtler but present heat from the sauce. We didn’t need it to be offensive from being tooooo hot!
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Add some (about a 1/2 cup perhaps ) of the pasta water to the cooking scallops shrimps and pepper sauce. Shake around and allow thicken slightly in the pan by quick reducing on a high heat. Add the cooked Gnocchi and toss all together.
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The Fish
Nigerian we are fond of deeply seasoning stuff! But sometimes it’s okay to allow the ingredient do the talking not the curry and plenty salt and seasoning!

For the sea bass I just seasoned with salt and black pepper and I just seasoned one side rather generously because I wanted to cook the skin to a golden brown crisps perfection and not have bits of salt and black pepper burning against the skin. You really can use any white fish here. Just ensure it’s as fresh as possible. I would vote a Black or Red Snapper, Grouper and Croaker that’s fresh and fleshy would be great here!You may decided to dust the skin with curry powder though but no no for me.
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In a hot pan add the olive oil, lay skin side down and allow to cook for about 4mins or till the edges start to brown and the top starts to change colour a little. Depeding on the thickness of your fish you need about 5 minutes max on one side and about 1-2 minutes on the other side. My sea bass took just one minute on the flesh side.

In case you’re allergic to seafood try this with some braised pork or just the fish period!

The Pesto
1 large bunch Local Spinach a.k.a Green (washed and blanched in boiling water for 1 minute and cooled in cold water and drained after. It should yield two cups blanched)
2 tbsp unsalted Cashew Nuts (if you use salted don’t add extra salt)
1 handful rocket leaves or basil (scent leaf should work here too but go easy, because it is very strong in flavour)
Good pinch salt
Black pepper to taste
1 cup olive oil plus extra
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Place all the ingredients, except the oil, in a blender and turn on to start running. In a slow steady stream pour the oil through the opening at the top. Pour till the leaves blend well and the sauce comes together in a creamy like consistency.
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Chilli Sauce

I used about 2 teaspoons with the seafood.

Any pepper sauce you make is fine but here’s my recipe. It’s really just a guideline. Make it however you like.
1 cup olive oil
200g- 250g scotch bonnet chill peppers (ata rodo)
200g onions
garlic and ginger to taste
1 classic knorr cube
1 cup palm oil
Salt and white pepper to taste

Roughly chop or blitz the pepper garlic, ginger onions in a food processor till roughly chopped – like you want to make Ofada/Ayamase stew. Put in a pot and rinse the leftover with a little water and add to the pot. Boil till the water dries up.

Bleach your oil slightly by heating it till very smoky, but hasn’t changed colour. Carefully, using a long spoon, add the boiled pepper mix bit by bit. Reduce the heat to the lowest. Add the seasonings and stir every 5 minutes. Do this for about 20 – 30 minutes. I really like to cook down the pepper to have a really intense flavour as well as heat! If you feel like the sauce is drying out before completion time add a splash of water to help it along the way.

To serve, spoon the gnocchi and seafood mix into bowls and spoon over the green gold i.e pesto and place the fish on top to one side. Garnish with rocket leaves and voila! good to go!
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My grandad has this for dinner and was one second away from using his fingers to lick the remaining sauce of the plate. He cleared every morsel! *skelewu*
My assistants and I didn’t even show any form of decorum as we deoured all the fish and gnocchi in one plate and even cooked pork chops to go along with it.

So this a simple meal you must try today! You can shake it up and try it with minced meat, chicken or veggies! Remember I said I wanted to add snail.. can you imagine small inside this mix!???? So yes if you have time try that too!

See You Next Week!

Many thanks to OmakaMarie – Creative direction, food writing and assistant, Seun Kowosi – Assistant Creative and photography.

Photo Credit Gbubemi Fregene for Chef Fregz

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.

10 Comments

  1. curious

    January 9, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Please,where can I get seabass (fish) from in Port Harcourt or anywhere else in Nigeria?

  2. pink davis

    January 9, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    My sweet potato I wanna tell u my mind,
    wanna tell u my mind o………
    Omo u don make me fall in love…….

  3. Queridosbabe

    January 10, 2015 at 3:59 am

    I will try this…simple ingredients . Thank you Chef Fregs

  4. Person

    January 10, 2015 at 6:09 am

    Bookmarked! Serving this at my next dinner party!!! Thank you!

  5. Eileen

    January 10, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Am definitely trying dis..

  6. Mimi

    January 10, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Nice

  7. Tweets

    January 12, 2015 at 11:50 am

    OMG!!! You just woke up my taste buds and made me very hungry ….. and I’m actually fasting .I’m so going to try this.

  8. Deebs

    January 12, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    you need to invite me ova, looks delish

  9. estell

    January 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Nice but what is the name of the fish you used?

    estellarchive.wordpress.com

  10. toyin

    January 20, 2015 at 12:43 am

    bugbemi………. i was jus killed with this goin to cook this for the bae this weekend

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