La Blanche learns to cook: Sweet potato greens with smoked fish

Today, I’m gong to try Pratchett-style footnotes in an attempt to cut down parentheses*.

After months of planning and failing, MG, the local, and I went to the market and then cooked up one of her favorite Ivorian dishes.

We went  to the petit marché, which I hadn’t been to before. And for good reason. It’s a sheltered area back off the street. You can’t see it from the main road, although it’s not really that far. There are lots of other vendor stalls that cover it up. Once you get there, however, it’s much easier to navigate than the grand marché. 

Her kitchen was currently flooded, so we used mine.

Here is the recipe:

Step 1:

Chop up 4 medium tomatoes, 1 medium onion, and 2 small onions. There are apparently a type of small onions that tend to cluster or get multiple bulbs, and they’re best, but we couldn’t find them.

At the same time, heat water and wash 500 CFA worth (1 morceau**) of smoked beef. Remove the skin (if desired), heads, and major bones of three medium smoked fish.

smoked meat
Smoked meat bits. Normally, I don’t care for beef. Here’s an exception.

Smoked fish 2

Smoked fish 1
Smoked fish. There are various sizes and types, most commonly mackerel and catfish.
ingredients
MG chopped up all the vegetables.

Step 2:

Add a generous amount of oil to the bottom of a pot, and add the onions and tomatoes. After a few moments, add some water and 4 cloves of garlic, minced. Add about a tablespoon of salt. Cook for… well, a while. Add a cube of Maggi boullion.

ingredients 2

Step 3: Make the greens.

We used sweet potato greens (‘batate’)

Rinse the chopped greens very well (here, necessary to remove the sand). Add about 1/4 liter (!) oil to another pot. Add the greens, and cook a few minutes. Add “potasse” (potash) or sodium bicarb to make it smooth. Add a half tablespoon of salt, unless you added potasse.

For the record, we’re now at >1 Tablespoons of salt in this thing, plus the Maggi cube, plus whatever’s in the smoked meats.

Optional: You can add the greens directly to the vegetables, but this is the traditional way. Most Ivorians think it’s wrong if you don’t take the opportunity to add oil. No, I’m serious, they really don’t like it unless there’s visible oil.

Cook it down until it’s fairly thick, as below. It’s about by 1/3-1/2 reduction.

cooked greens

Step 4: Add the meat to the greens, and cook for a bit longer. Add salt and piment to taste. Yes, she wanted to add more salt. At this point I was a bit overwhelmed with salt.

MG cooking
Putting everything together! Forgive me for hesitating to put in people’s faces. I promise she’s lovely, I just want to respect her privacy 🙂 Also, it’s the middle of the day, and my kitchen really is as dark as it looks.***

Step 5: Serve over rice. I assume attieke or foutou would also be acceptable. MG added more salt.

End product.JPG

 

This was delicious. Frankly, it’s mostly flavored like smoked meat and salt, which seems to be a theme here: salt, fat, and sugar are very high in all the dishes. Later in the evening, I could not drink enough water or eat enough citrus, and always thought I ate too much salt! Turns out I’m a lightweight here. On the other hand, my level of pepper tolerance has been deemed acceptable.

 


*Like this.

**The market measurements here include: whole veg/animal units, bit, kilo, handful, tower. They do not include cups. Because remember, the entire rest of the world uses one measurement, and for whatever reason we don’t.

***Now it’s darker, since my lightbulb burned out this morning. Or the socket broke. Remains to be seen.

 

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