Monday, July 26, 2010

Guest Post: Nigerian Suya


I saw this yummy Nigerian street food on Ozoz's fabulous blog  Kitchen Butterfly and I asked If I could add to Chow and Chatter just in case you are not already reading her wonderful blog. She is Nigerian a Mum and living in the Netherlands, she is super creative in the kitchen and takes amazing pictures, be sure to follow along!


When my 7 year old daughter talks about Nigeria and going back, one of the things on the top of her list is Suya. My 4 year old doesn’t remember the absolutely delicious bits of spiced beef on sticks, cooked over hot coals by specialists – men from the northern part of Nigeria, where this is their trademark. Suya is one of those things which Nigerians in diaspora miss, just like the Dutch yearn for dropjes and stroopwaffelsAnd if you dig further, you’ll find most people have jars of suya spice in their pantries. I got my mum to bring me a small sack of the stuff which is stashed in the deep freezer!



Photo credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

Though the experts are from the North you’ll find them all over the country. Usually every area in a town will have a ‘suya spot’, with its ‘Malam’, a name for the owner or controller of the joint. All day, every day, you’ll see the suya spots rife with activity from early morning till dusk, when orange trails blaze the skies with the setting of the sun.

The early hours of the day are spent prepping the meat – beef from cows that have trekked from one end of Nigeria to the other, eating lush green grass along roadsides, drinking cool, refreshing waters from streams running north, south, east and west – talk about free-range cattle. These cows serve up the tastiest beef you ever ate (save for Argentina perhaps) , not to mention being organic :-) . The beef is sorted into groups – soft, tender cuts, chewy, hardier portions with fat, bony bits and more. Some chickens also join the fray, winged, giblets and gizzards. When preparations are all done, the meat is marinated in a dry rub of nuts and spices – toasted peanuts (we call them groundnuts), chili powder, ground ginger and salt form the basic spices but as you can imagine, each malam has his special blend, with special proportions and secret ingredients. Other add-ins might be garlic powder, onion powder, spice cubes and paprika.

Then, the meat is threaded onto stick, large pieces cut across the grain. Sometimes, I am reminded of birds and flapping wings as the flat beef pieces dangle from side to side.About 4 pm, the Malams and their boys set up shop by the roadside, fanning the flame of glowing coals, while turning the meat on sticks gently. As customers troop to purchase suya by the stick, the boys load the stands with more stock. People ask for the type of meat they want, pick and choose specific sticks and then opts to eat it off the stick or have it stripped off the sticks and wrapped up in newspaper to take home. Both options are served with sliced tomatoes, red onions and chili pepper. All fresh.


Peanut butter
Ingredients
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, skinned
1/4 – 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Pinch of salt
How to
In a blender or food processor, grind the peanuts till they are crushed.
The ground nuts will stick to the sides of the mixing container, so using a spatula, loosen bits from the bottom and round the sides.

Then add oil, drizzling in along with a pinch of salt, blending till you get your required consistency.
I wanted a loose butter so I added more oil, till it reached a ‘thick cream’ consistency.
Suya
Ingredients, makes a dozen skewers/sticks
250g beef steak (, sliced against the grain  into thin (slightly thicker than carpaccio), wideish pieces
Portion of peanut butter (from above)
1 teaspoon chili pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 -2 tablespoons lime juice
Fresh red onions, tomatoes and coriander leaves, to serve
Notes:

  1. Its easier to slice the beef if you freeze it for an hour prior to use

  2. Adjust the spices to suit your taste, my measurements are just guides.
How to
Make the peanut paste by combining peanut butter, chili pepper, salt, ground ginger and lime.
stir well
Adjust to taste and place beef slices in a large bowl . Pour peanut sauce over it, then using your hands, mix well ensuring the pieces of beef are coated with the sauce.
Leave to marinate for a few hours or overnight. I wanted to compare the taste of the suya using the peanut sauce versus the original suya spice (dry rub) and so I made two batches (and ended up with 2 dozen sticks, which are almost all gone!)When ready to cook, thread them unto  (soaked wooden) skewers, accordion style so the meat is stretched out, not bunched up.
You can grill them in a pan, the oven or on the barbeque. I’ve done all of the above but the most authentic method of course, is over the fire.
Now how amazing do they look!
Thanks Ozoz for kindly giving me permission to feature your recipe on Chow and Chatter, hope you all enjoyed as much as I did 




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