Monday, 22 December 2008

Cook's Alphabet 'S' — Senegal Pepper Peanut Soup

Cook's Alphabet 'S'

This is the nineteenth in my series of 28 postings going through the entire alphabet, as it relates to cooks and cooking. As you can see, today I'm dealing with the letter 'S'.

The letter 'S' is, of course the nineteenth letter in the English alphabet, and today's recipe is for a classic modern Fusion recipe made with the S-fish, Sea Bass cooked with an Oriental twist:

Sea Bass with Lemon Soy Sauce

120ml soy sauce
90g brown sugar
120ml Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
725g sea bass, skinned
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5cm length of ginger (unpeeled) cut into 6 pieces
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp freshly-grated lemon zest
1 tbsp spring onions, minced
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Combine the soy sauce, sugar and rice wine in a small pan. Heat gently and stir to dissolve the sugar then take off the heat and add the garlic and ginger.

Add the fish to a a large dish and pour half the soy sauce mixture over it. Spoon over the fish a few times then allow to marinate for 30 minutes, turning the fish half way through. Meanwhile, bring the remaining sauce to a boil and cook until the volume has reduced to 1/3. Strain the sauce to remove the garlic and ginger then stir-in the lemon juice, lemon zest, spring onions and sesame seeds. Set aside.

Drain the fish and place under a grill and cook until done (usually 3 minutes per 1cm of thickness — remember to turn half way through). When the fish is almost ready, bring the sauce back to a boil. Transfer the fish to a serving plate and pour the sauce over the top.

(This recipe reproduced, with permission, from the Celtnet Sea Bass with Lemon Soy Sauce Recipe page, which is presented as part of the site's Fusion recipes collection. )

Today's cooking term is Sorbet: Sorbet is a semi-frozen water ice made from fruit, sugar syrup, wine and/or liqueur. Ideally, this should be even in texture and free from ice crystals. And, as a result, it's most often made in an ice-cream maker. But addition of liqueur allows you to achieve the same effect in your freezer. It is traditonally served as a palate cleanser between courses but these days it's more often consumed as a refreshing desert, decorated with a sprig of mint..

Today's spice is Sénégal Pepper: Sénégal Pepper (also known as Negro Pepper, Grains of Selim, African Grains of Selim, Moor Pepper, Kili, Congo Pepper, Kani Pepper, Country Pepper, Selim Kili Pepper and Poivre de Sénégal) represnts the fruit pods of Xylopia aethiopica or Xylopia striata, members of the Annonacea (custard apple) family. These are either smoked when raw or are dried before use. Though common in Europe during the Middle Ages Sénégal Pepper fell into disuse due to its bitter and astringent pepper though it does impart considerable 'heat' to a dish. It is still frequently used in its native Sénégal, however and forms an integral part of many spice blends

Although Sénégal Pepper has the 'heat' of black pepper it is not truly suited as an alternative because of its bitter overtones and it is this bitterness that explains why this spice is seldom seen outside it’s native region today. Which is not to say that Sénégal Pepper does not have its uses in West African ‘soups’ (stews) and as a rubbing spice for grilled or barbecued meats. Because of its bitterness the unsmoked pods tend to be lightly crushed before being added to soups and stews. The pod is then removed before serving. It is often sold by specialized spice merchants as 'Selim Kili Pepper'. The recip below is for a traditional West African peanut-based stew:

Senegal Pepper Peanut Soup Recipe

1 kg diced beef
1 bitter tomato, roughly sliced (subsititue a green tomato and half a small aubergine)
3 6x6 cm sections of prepared cow skin cut into 2cm square sections
4 onions, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
100 ml strong beef broth (or 100ml water with 2 beef stock cubes)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp anchovy paste/fish sauce (Nam Pla)
6 Sénégal pepper pods, crushed and tied in a muslin bag
1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
12 Scotch Bonnet chillies
400ml unsweetened peanut butter
6 crab claws (optional)
600g rice

If using fish for this recipe (rather than the crab) then deep fry the fish beforehand and set aside. Add the meat, skins (if using) and spices to a large stock pot and add a little (200ml) water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Meanwhile, make a past of the chillies by pounding in a pestle and mortar and add half the onions to this and pound in. Add 2 tbsp of this mixture to the meat stew stir, in, cover and cook for 10 minutes. At this point add the anchovy paste, crab claws (and/or fish if using) and the remainder of the onions to the stew. Cover and cook for a further two minutes.

Put the peanut butter in a large bowl and make to 1.5l with water, using your hands to work the peanut paste into the water. Add this paste to the cooking meat (leaving any sediment behind) and add the Sénégal pepper. Bring to the boil then add the remaining chilli paste.

Boil for 45 minutes, until thickened, then serve on a bed of rice.

(This recipe reproduced, with permission, from the Celtnet Peanut Soup Recipe page. )

For more information on cookery-associated terms and information beginning with the letter 'S' here are various links that may well be of interest:

Recipes beginning with 'S'
Spices beginning with 'S'
Herbs beginning with 'S'
Wild foods beginning with 'S'
Cook's glossary 'S'

For more African Recipes, see the Celtnet Recipes Blog African Recipes page.

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This list of African regions and African recipes is brought to you in association with the Recipes of Africa eBook. With over 1000 recipes covering each and every country in Africa, this is the most comprehensive book of African recipes available anywhere.

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