Every so often, I come across a dish I dread.
It usually involves a leafy green.
I’ve had one-too-many incidents of stomach trouble after eating cooked spinach. My esophagus cringes when I smell broccoli. I straight up laugh at most kale, unless it’s fried.
Leafy greens just ain’t for me. But, still, I try – which is why I went to Mama Pauline’s African Market and picked up some frozen ndole.
The leaves sat in my freezer for months, before I had the courage to move forward. They sat in my fridge, defrosting, and I dreaded them. They looked so… spinachy.
Not helping things: the recipe I found for Cameroon’s national dish called for soaking the leaves in baking soda and water for a day.
My stomach turned again. I soaked them for two.
But I also bought the ingredients I needed, and I couldn’t let them go to waste. I drove to Beaverton to get crawfish. I bought a half-pound of shrimp. I even found Maggi, the ubiquitous flavoring sauce from much of the not-American world.
I didn’t get sick. And, in fact, I didn’t hate ndole. The meal was incredibly rich, and I couldn’t eat too much without worrying about what was going to happen to my digestion – but nothing did. The leaves had a unique, not-spinachy taste, and the seafood was tasty and hearty without being overpowering.
Recipe sourced from African Bites.
- 1 cup shelled and peeled peanuts
- 1 can seafood stock
- 1/2 # shrimp
- 3/4 # crawfish
- 1/2 # chicken (or beef)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 large onion, chopped, divided
- 2 Tb Maggi
- 1 # ndole leaves
- Place ndole in a bowl with water, rub leaves together, rinse. Soak overnight with a ts baking soda.
- Fry half the onions until translucent, then add the meat.
- Boil the peanuts with seafood stock and 1 Tb Maggi for about 10 minutes. Cool.
- Drain the peanuts, reserving the stock. Put the peanuts in a food processor and pulse to a paste, adding stock to get the right consistency.
- Blend half the onion and 3 cloves garlic into a fine paste and add to the mixture of peanuts and meat.
- Pour in the crawfish and let it simmer for 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent burns. Season with salt and Maggi.
- Add the ndole leaves, and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan, add 1 clove crushed garlic, then add shrimp, stirring constantly until pink.
- Serve ndole on a plate with boiled plantains or cassava fufu, and put shrimp on top.