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Cameroon: Ndolé

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Ingredients

Adjust Servings:
16 oz unsalted peanuts skinless
1 lb shrimp divined, heads and tails removed
12 oz stockfish
6 cloves garlic
1 large yellow onion
3/4 cup ground crayfish/shrimp
3-4 Maggi cubes
2 lbs spinach fresh or frozen, but thaw before using
1 cup peanut oil

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Cameroon: Ndolé

Bitterleaf and Peanut Soup with Shrimp

Cuisine:

Shrimp is a major source of protein in Cameroon - in fact, the country was named by Portuguese explorers who noted the abundance of shrimp in its estuaries and dubbed the land Rio dos Camarões, or “River of Shrimp.”  

  • 45
  • Serves 8
  • Medium

Ingredients

Directions

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Cameroonian cuisine is one of the most varied in Africa due to its location on the crossroads between the north, west, and centre of the continent; added to this is the profound influence of French food, a legacy of the colonial era.  Cameroon is made up of over 250 ethnic groups and cuisine differs between ethnic group and also by region.  Ndolé (pronounced Na-do-leh) is considered the national dish of Cameroon.  It’s traditionally made with bitterleaf, an African green that is difficult to find in grocery stores in the United States, so spinach is a common substitute and what I decided to use. Shrimp is a key ingredient in this soup, flavoring the broth in ground form and also as a garnish.  Shrimp is a major source of protein in Cameroon – in fact, the country was named by Portuguese explorers who noted the abundance of shrimp in its estuaries and dubbed the land Rio dos Camarões, or “River of Shrimp.”  Meat is eaten, but is more expensive and oft avoided out of concern it may be sourced through an illegal bushmeat trade.  I absolutely loved this dish, although be warned that between the peanuts and peanut oil, it’s heavier than it might first appear – and I already significantly cut down on the oil!

A couple of pointers:

  • If you don’t have a local African grocer, stockfish, maggi cubes and ground shrimp can all be found on Motherlands Finest.  If you live in D.C., African Food Wholesalers came recommended to me by one of my supper club guests!
  • While the original recipe did not say to strain and discard the stockfish, I could tell from the consistency that it shouldn’t be in my soup so I recommend discarding.  You can also use your favorite homemade or store bought fish stock.
  • You can use fresh or frozen spinach, but frozen is probably going to be more economical given the quantity needed.
  • This dish is lovely with a side of baked plantains.  Very simple – slice, brush generously in coconut oil, sprinkle with salt and bake at 375 flipping once the tops are browned.

Recipe Source: African Bites

Steps

1
Done
Overnight

Cover the stockfish in water and soak overnight. You're going to use 4 cups of the liquid for the soup; you can reserve the rest for another use.

2
Done

Boil peanuts for about 10 minutes in a sauce pan. Let it cool and blend/pulse in a food processor or blender into a paste, using water to facilitate the blending; it's okay to have some chunks remaining. Set aside.

3
Done

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a deep sauce pan or dutch oven. Thinly slice 3/4 of the onion and add to the pan to cook. Once they're softened and fragrant, add fish stock and bring to a simmer. Stir in ground peanuts.

4
Done

Blend garlic and remaining onion into a fine paste and add to the stew. Pour in the ground shrimp/crayfish and let it simmer for 10 minutes stirring. Season with salt and Maggi cubes - you can always add more later. Add spinach to the pot. Stir and simmer for several minutes more.

5
Done

While the pot of ndole is simmering, heat 1 cup peanut oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan. Add the shrimp, stirring constantly until they just turn pink. Once the shrimp is cooked, strain the oil and any liquid into the ndole and keep the shrimp aside. You can also mix them right in, but they look prettier as a garnish!

Johanna

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