Akkra is another dish with origins in Senegal that has spread out to South America and the Caribbean. There are many versions of it across the globe. This dish reminded us of falafel but instead of chick peas, the fritters are made with a puree of black-eyed peas and onion. The secret ingredient, which is optional but we had on hand was dried shrimp powder, which gave it a musky earthiness. It was good, if a bit oily, but that might have been our own fault in not cooking it at a high enough temperature or in a deep fryer. While easy to prepare, it takes a little planning as the beans need to be soaked overnight.
We served it with a spicy sauce of tomato, onion and scotch bonnet peppers.
Here’s the recipe.
We’ve explored meatballs from a lot of different countries on Food Explorer, but the only other fish balls we’ve done before this are Gefilte Fish. And while we love Gefilte Fish, we would never make them at any other time than Passover. These Boulettes de Poison, on the other hand, are so good that we would be happy to make them anytime. Not “fishy” at all, we pureed Mahi Mahi with onions, parsley, bread crumbs and egg, and deep fried them to a golden crisp. We then simmered the fried fish balls in a spicy tomato sauce and served them over some leftover Joloff rice we had from the night before. They looked like meatballs on the outside, but they were light and fluffy on the inside with a sweet and mild flavor and a heat provided by scotch bonnet peppers.
Click through for the recipe and more pics
Here’s a combination of two deeply flavorful dishes that are Senegalese classics. Chicken Yassa is marinated overnight in onions, lemon juice and vinegar among other ingredients. This marinade provides a nice acidy tartness, plus it’s a traditional tenderization method because chickens are sometimes tough in that part of the world. The onions are then cooked down and caramelized to be served with the chicken.
Joloff rice is another famous dish that is considered the precursor of both paella and jambalaya. The rice soaks up some of the tart juices from the chicken and onions to make one meal full of bold flavors.
We had no idea what to expect going into Senegal week on Food Explorer. We knew we had to do an African country, and Senegal, with French and Moroccan influences on it’s west African cuisine sounded interesting. But overall we knew nothing about the country or it’s cuisine. That’s why we were shocked (happily so) that we had just made one of our favorite dishes yet. Mafe is a unique and completely unexpected combination of flavors. It’s a peanut butter stew with a base of tomato paste and some heat from ginger and scotch bonnet peppers.
Now, to be clear, we did not follow the exact recipe, which calls for stewing the meat in the sauce. It’s summer and we felt like grilling, so we made the sauce and meat separately and brought them together at the end. We also marinated the lamb for a few hours in a puree of onion and ginger, which tenderized it, and then used the marinade in the sauce.
We could have been happy just eating the sauce itself over rice. The peanut butter gave it a flavor that reminded us a little of Satay sauce, but all the other flavors made it unique, rich, and delicious. We highly recommend this dish and we’re looking forward to the rest of the week!
There are many recipes for Mafe with variations of ingredients but we generally followed this one.