We have gotten pretty busy over the last few weeks, so although we have cooked three more countries, I haven’t blogged any of them yet. For Cameroon, I came across many of the usual ingredients for Africa… palm oil, plantains, fish, peanuts, etc. The most well known dish seems to be something called Ndole, which is a stew that is cooked with bitter greens. I knew I would have to substitute a different green (probably collard greens, spinach, or kale), and it didn’t look all that appealing to me. So I found an alternate recipe for fried fish in peanut sauce and a side dish called sese plantains.
Fried Fish in Peanut Sauce (recipe)
Like many African recipes, this started with heating some palm oil in a frying pan. I then added the fish and cooked until it was done. I interpreted “serving sized pieces” of fish to be bite sized, and in retrospect I decided that probably wasn’t the intent. Oh well. It had the usual distinct smell and color of palm oil coated food.
I set it aside when it was done. It was kind of crumbly.
Next is where we made some modifications. We ground up the coriander, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and pepper as directed, but we omitted the dried shrimp. This is for three reasons. 1. The bag of dried shrimp we purchased turned out to be past its expiration date already (I suspect it is not a commonly purchased item and had been on the shelf for a while…), 2. We were warned that dried shrimp are VERY salty and worried about a repeat of our overly salty Cambodian fish curry, and 3. I got weirded out by the two little back eyes on each shrimp and wimped out.
We also didn’t save any fish heads to cook with the water and make a broth. Instead we threw in some vegetable bouillon. Sounds pretty equivalent, right? Right.
So we marched through the rest of the steps… simmered the water, bouillon, and spices. Browned the onions and garlic in peanut oil (usually I just sauté them until they’re soft, but I actually let them get brown and crispy for this). Added a couple whole peppers.
Next the peanut butter and broth were mixed together/simmered, then poured over the fish.
It was extremely liquidy. We were pretty concerned about this and let it reduce for a while, but it was already 8:45 PM, so eventually we just called it good.
Sese Plantains (recipe)
This was another simple recipe. Started with chopped plantains, onions, tomatoes, and pepper.
Boil the plantains in water for 10 minutes. I thought the 10 1/2 cups of water in the recipe seemed a little unreasonable, so I used a lot less. It was probably 4 or 5 cups. Then the tomatoes, onion, and pepper were added and cooked for another 10 minutes.
Next was the vegetable bouillon and palm oil, followed by more simmering.
The finished meal. We forgot the cashews that were supposed to be a topping on the sese plantains. Oops.
As my tone may have suggested, this meal was pretty lackluster. Neither great, nor terrible. I don’t regret excluding the dried shrimp and fish head, although I think the saltiness of the dried shrimp would have helped the fish in peanut sauce. It seemed like it needed a little extra something. I thought the sese plantains was okay, but Tyler really didn’t care for it. Overall, it was an okay meal and we ate some of the leftovers, but after a week or two in the fridge we finally threw away the rest. I guess we needed some solid mediocrity to balance out the awesomeness that was our Canadian meal the next week. 🙂