Friday, May 17, 2013

Ghana Food: Tilapia light soup

It is somehow embarrassing that I am over one year here in Ghana and I have not yet given one local recipe, not even a hint. This has simply to change and I want to start today with a lovely recipe for Tilapia.

Tilapia is widely eaten here in Ghana, there are Tilapia farms, but most of it is caught wild, and one an taste the difference, it is just nicer, fresher, firmer.
The fish is then often marinated and grilled, but as well used in stews or soups. It is dried as well and then used as a condiment in certain stews which gives it this typical local flavor

Just something general about the food here in Ghana, it is spicy, very spicy for most of us, but it is tasty at the same time. The flavors are very different from what I have tasted so far, even in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Here smoked fish is often used in cooking, or dried or both together, so there is often a fishy and smokey flavor to it. Now the funny part is that when we have guests from Nigeria, they think that he food here is not spicy enough, so for the Nigerian guests we need to add extra flavor.....that is when I do not taste the food anymore as I simply can't handle that much spice.
We are selling a lot of Tilapia here, about 130 kg per week (290 lb) so we have to buy large. Rose our Tilapia supplier brings them fresh from lake Volta, they are absolutely amazing and really fresh. She takes a taxi for the 2 hour ride (her sons taxi) and brings the fish in big cooler boxes with ice. Usually we close receiving at 3 PM for our suppliers, but because she gets the fish fresh and brings it all the way here, she is welcome at any time and yes sometimes it is around 10 PM, a very long day for her, as she got the fish that morning fresh from the fishermen. Usually I am the one receiving the fish from the elderly lady, of course always a bit complaining about the size of the fish....Ahhhh, too small Rose, I want them big!!!!.......Noooooo, Chef, this is biiiig, very biiiiiig and smell, so fresh, still alive!!!!!!  There are no complaints about her fish, it is big and fresh, but we like to tease a bit. There is no way that I would buy Tilapia from anyone else.

Now usually the fish is eaten here with either Banku or Kenkey, even so rice is eaten widely, every food has its partner

2 kg (4 lb) Tilapia
150 g (5 oz) Fresh tomatoes
130 g (4 oz) Tomato puree
60 g (2 oz) Pepper
80 g (3 oz) Onions
1 cloveGarlic
60 g (2 oz) Ginger

Wash,and clean tilapia.
Cut the fish in thick slices
Sesaon and keep for 5 mins
Combine water with all ingredients except fish
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes
Add the fish Simmer till Tilapia is cooked
Season to taste Pepper (chili) is also called Kpakpashitor and is very hot

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I think a minestrone is the perfect winter soup, it is actually a full meal, with a slice or two of organic farmers bread, it is like being in heaven.

There are many ways of doing a minestrone, when I do it for myself there is always a little bacon in it and I use a very light chicken stock to fill up the soup, but of course one can leave all meats away to make it a truly vegetarian soup, even good for a delicious vegan meal.

The making of the soup is really very easy, just cut all the vegetables together, saute in a little olive oil, add tomato paste, then puree and then some water, season, simmer, add spaghetti and potatoes towards the end of the cooking process as otherwise they would be overcooked and too soft, then at the end serve the soup with Parmesan and pesto....everybody will love it

50 G Olive Oil
10 G Bacon Cubes
100 G Onion
150 G Leeks
100 G Carrots
100 G Celery
200 G Cabbage
200 G Potatoes
40 G Tomato Paste
100 G Tomato Concassé
50 G Rice
50 G Spaghetti
50 G Borlotti Beans

100 G Butter
10 G Garlic
1 Bunch Basil
50 G Parmesan

Cut all the vegetables in small dices
Heat up olive oil and roast the bacon cubes in it
Add all the vegetables
Shallow-fry for a couple of minutes
Add tomato paste
Add about 3 l water (chicken stock) and boil for
15 min Add rice, cooked beans and broken spaghetti
Cook for another 15-20 min

Season and add pestata just before serving

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Chicken Breast, wild Mushroom Ravioli

I just felt like cooking, just had this urge of doing something nice, something tasty. I went into the walk in fridge and there was this chicken lying, just calling out my name: "Come here, take me, cook me!!!!!"

How could I resist?

I took the chicken gently and off I went into the kitchen. I first deboned carefully the breasts, making sure the wing bone is nice and clean and then leaving the skin on. Then I took the legs off ready to be braised. The just would be made from the bones, so I chopped them roughly together and in a hot pan and a little olive oil roasted them till they were nice and brown. Adding some carrots, onions and celeriac, I roasted everything a little longer. Then the tomato paste and of course the wine. Ahhh, the smell was just wonderful and I knew already that the chicken would be happy with the result, hehehehe.

Anyway, I braised the legs on low temperature in the stock and when they were nice and tender I took them out, reducing the stock till it was strong and powerful

Then I took some lovely wild mushrooms, sauteed them with onions and garlic, added at the end the chopped chicken legs and some spinach for color. That was then my filling for the ravioli.

So I just had to roast the chicken breast, do some lovely, crunchy fresh vegetables and voila, my chicken dish was done......sounds easy? It is.........sort of, I have to admit, it is a little time consuming to braise the leg, make the pasta dough, finish off everything and was worth every little move, every taster.

That is why sometimes I just cook a dish, this chicken is not on the menu and I only made 2 portions.....just for fun. It relaxes me, other people do yoga....not me, I cook, it takes my mind off the everyday hassles going on around me, it makes me ME again.

Ahhhhhh, now you want the recipe? I thought so, then let me share it with you. Just one more word of is a little labor intensive, but worth the while making it

5 ea Chicken, whole
500 g Pasta dough
100 g Wild mushrooms
25 g Onions
15 g Garlic
100 ml White wine
150 g Spinach
25 g Basil
30 g Butter

250 g Broad beans
250 g French beans
250 g White asparagus
250 g Carrots
30 g Butter

Debone the chicken, keeping the wing bone and skin on the breast
Roast the bones till brown, fry the legs in a little oil
Then braise the legs with the bones together till tender
Strain the sauce off and discard the bones
Debone the legs and keep the meat for the ravioli
Chop the onions and garlic finely.
Sauté in olive oil
Chop the mushrooms and add them to the sauté
Deglaze with the white wine, add chopped chicken leg
Simmer till all liquid has evaporated
Add the roughly chopped spinach
Season to taste and cool the mix down

Roll out the pasta dough thinly.
With the pasta dough and filling make half-moon shaped ravioli
Blanch them in water then shock in ice water
Drain off the water and add some oil to the ravioli to prevent them from sticking together

Blanch the vegetables and roast the chicken breast
To finish the plate, heat the ravioli and fry them without color in a bit butter and basil julienne
Heat the vegetables up and season to taste
Have the reduced sauce ready
Plate everything nicely on a plate
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