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We love each other…..very much I dare say.

IMG_6478We’ve always been there for each other too, more or less. In all this time, we’ve come to a joint conclusion, one that we reached at a Chinese restaurant many months ago.

If ever there was a thing to destroy this friendship, …

…it would be FOOD!

IMG_6493And so, L, my friend and I have our friendship preservers!

Now, the origin of this whole story stems from a certain Friday evening when we went to Kee Lun Palace, a Chinese restaurant in The Hague. We ordered separate dinners for our families and then ordered one item to share. Note that we live in different homes too.

That item was salt and pepper ribs – tasty fried short ribs, which are crunchy and meaty with the right amount of heat. If I remember correctly, the area of concern was that one of us would get a bigger portion!

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In the end, everything worked out well but we’ve always joked and kidded about the fact that our friendship couldn’t stand up to the food test. L laughs all the time, imaging a scenario where she gets asked by her cousin, O (who introduced us) how I am. The conversation goes something like this:

O: So how is Ozoz?
L: Hmmm, she’s fine. That one….hmmm, she is such a funny character (some derision obvious in the statement)
O: Aah, (sensing something is wrong), what’s up?
L: Don’t mind her, we’re not really friends anymore
O: No way, what happened?
L: You don’t want to know…..
O: That bad?
L: Yes, that bad, I’ll tell you some other time. It’s still too fresh to talk about now!

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And that’s how L, cunningly escapes giving away the real reason behind the food-related break up of our friendship. Thankfully, that’s more imagined than real, since we’re both giving people, right? Hmm, we’ll see.

This week, we’re in Haiti on Culinary tour 2010, organised by Joan of Foodalogue.

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My main recipe, would be classified as ‘Traditional’, according to the descriptions Joan gave about the type of dish being cooked:

  • Traditional – recreate the country’s national dish or any other traditional dish.
  • Contemporary – use a traditional recipe and make it Nuevo Latino (contemporize it).
  • Algo Nuevo (something new) – create something totally ‘your own’ by using the flavors and techniques of the destination.
  • Published Chef – follow the recipe of a published chef/author specializing in that cuisine.

Haiti has been in the news with its recent devastation so please remember the H2Ope for Haiti - an online raffle, organised by Jeanne of Cooksister with BloggerAid – Changing the Face of Famine (BA-CFF) to raise funds for Concern Worldwide’s relief effort in Haiti.

6a00d83451960b69e20120a8c2c89c970bThe raffle ends on midnight on Sunday 28 February. has been extended till the 7th of March.

There are fantastic prizes on offer from cookbooks to paintings, chocolate and more. I’ve already bought my first set of raffle tickets! Please, please, please support the people of Haiti by buying a ticket or in any other manner you can. You will find a list of the prizes on Jeanne’s blog. Unless stated otherwise, all prizes are available for worldwide shipping and tickets cost £6.50 (roughly $10) each.  Once you have chosen the prize or prizes you want to buy tickets for, take a note of their prize codes (very important!) and click through to Justgiving’s donations page where you will find complete instructions on how to buy your tickets and specify your chosen prizes. 

Please read and follow the instructions carefully and if in doubt, send Jeanne an e-mail (email cooksister AT googlemail DOT com).

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For the meal, I decided to make Tasot Cabrit – Haitian fried goat because it reminded me of Asun, which before now I’d only ever tasted once – about 10 years ago: the flavours though are forever embellished in my medula so much so that the  mere mention of it almost made me fight L. ‘You have Asun (Fried goatmeat), and you didn’t tell me?’ (Ignoring the fact that she couldn’t have known it was on my desired ‘Nigerian-meats-to-sample’ list). And so it was that L sent me some (photos below), after numerous SMSs: Asun, a friendship swimming ring and saver, to the rescue!

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Asun is essentially tiny chunks of goat meat (with the skin and all on), cooked and fried with sliced onions and chilli peppers. In Nigeria, it is a dish from the western region (Yorubaland) cooked often at parties and celebrations of every sort. Now, the Yorubas in Nigeria are like the Londoners of the UK. They are the ‘happening’ people. As in the ‘in’ crowd. (L is Yoruba by the way :-))

Some describe them as a ‘fun loving people’ on the coast of West Africa. While the majority of the Yoruba live in western Nigeria, there are also substantial indigenous Yoruba communities in South American countries like Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and many Carribean countries, as a result of the slave trade. I suspect, that somewhere, sometime ago, in that time, recipes followed captured Nigerians across borders and lands……into South America. Remember Akara-Acaraje?

Now, Yoruba people like to party…..which they call ‘O wam be’ – it means ‘there’s a party here’. Any reason is good reason for a ‘groove’, some which last whole weekends……..

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At these parties, meats like Asun form part of a repertoire of dishes called ‘small chops': appetisers and finger foods to the rest of the world. In the last decade, the ‘small chops’ industry in Nigeria has blossomed. Before the main meals are served at parties, trays and platters of ‘small chops’ pass by tables and do the rounds. They’ll consist of meats like Asun, suya (meat on skewers), fried snails and other bits and bobs.

Fried plantain rings or cubes (Dodo) may accompany them, along with fried yam pieces (Dun Dun). Akara balls and Puff-puff (small olieballen/beignets/donut holes) won’t be strangers either.

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This is one of many reasons why I miss Naija…..food!

Without further ado, here’s what I’m serving up for Haiti:

Goat meat with onions and pepper

Ingredients

2 cups goat meat or lamb, in small chunks
1 (Maggi) stock cube
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (to marinade and fry)
Salt to taste
1 medium red onion, sliced
Sliced chilli peppers (optional)
Sliced tomatoes (optional)

How to

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Marinade meat with sliced onions, stock cube, lemon juice, oil and salt.

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Leave for at least 4 hours or overnight, to marinade.

When marinated, brown meat in a large pan/wok and add water after a few minutes.

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Let simmer/cook, in a covered pan and on low heat for 30 – 40 minutes or until the goat meat is tender. Keep topping up with water (by the cup) so the mixture doesn’t get too dry.

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When it is cooked, let the liquids dry up in the pan by cooking uncovered. Then add the sliced onions and pepper, turn off the heat, stir well and then place the lid back on to allow the onions and pepper cook on the residual heat.

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I served mine with fried yams and extra sliced onions and tomatoes.

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I sliced off rings from my tuber, peeled, washed, cut and boiled them in salted water for 5 minutes to ‘parboil’.

I then drained off the water, and deep-fried them till they cooked – 4 – 5 minutes.

IMG_6453It was a match made in heaven….but then I am a serious YAM lover. I’ve been known to eat it 3 times a day…..a bit like potato lovers, You can boil, bake, broil, grill, fry, stew, make a pottage out of it!!!!

Fried yam is a treat any day: the cooking before hand softens the overall texture making it soft on the inside with delicious crisp edges. When you fry it straight away, without parboiling, large chunks can become a bit too hard!

And just in case you’re wondering, I did share some of my Tasot Cabrit with L: did you think I wouldn’t?

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And that’s it for this stop. Next week we’re in Cuba and I’ll be serving up some Cuban strawberries (and you guessed right – Rum’ed strawberries) with Vanilla Meringue ice-cream. Stop by please.

And here’s a recap of where we’ve been so far and what I made:

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