Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Caribbean and African Cooking: Shrimp Low-mein

Low-mein (Low rhymes with cow) is mainly of Chinese Guyanese origin, but is popular all over Guyana. Cooked usually with pork, I have used shrimps in this recipe. Unlike the chow-mein cooked in Guyana, low-mein has a sauce, and the noodles are cooked separately, not stir-fried with the meat and vegetables. Prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook. If patchoi is unavailable, use Chinese leaves.

Serves 4

1 lb peeled shrimps,
defrosted if frozen 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp five-spice powder' 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled 1/4 lb bora* or green beans
1/4 tsp arrowroot*
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 lb low-mein noodles*
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 lb patchoi, * cut into pieces salt, to taste
2 green onions, chopped
(see glossary)

Marinate the shrimps in garlic, sugar, five-spice, black pepper and lemon juice while the vegetables are being prepared. Slice the carrot; in three, lengthwise, then into diagonal sticks. Trim the bora, cut into 1 inch lengths. Cook in 1 1/4 cups water with the carrots for approximately 3 minutes; drain reserving the stock and the vegetable; Mix the arrowroot with a little water, in a bowl. Add the soy sauce, reserved stock and the marinade from the shrimps to the same bowl and set aside. Cook the noodles as instructed on the packet. Drain and keep hot in a covered saucepan.

Fry the shrimps in the oil for a few minutes on a moderate heat in a wok or large frying pan. Add the onions, garlic and patchoi and stir-fry. Next, add the carrots and bora to the shrimps. Stir the arrowroot mixture well, before pouring over the shrimps and vegetables. When the sauce thickens slightly, season to taste. Sprinkle with green onions. Serve immediately on a bed of the noodles.

Caribbean and African Cooking: Seafood Gumbo

Bambaya has a reputation for producing good gumbos, both seafood and vegetarian. This is an elaborate one — do substitute or leave out some of the seafood, using meat if desired. I have been cooking gumbos for years and have slowly developed 'a feel' for them, as opposed to following a specific recipe — I hope you do too.

Serves 6

1 lb jumbo shrimps (raw) 5 cups water
2 tbsp butter or margarine 2 tbsp flour
1/4 lb okra, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 4 tomatoes, peeled and
1 sprig thyme
1 tbsp parsley
2 bay leaves
hot pepper, to taste 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 lb pumpkin, chopped 1/2 lb crab meat or fresh
crab pieces 1 lb fresh tuna or king
fish, or firm fish steak,

Shell the jumbo shrimps and de-vein. Reserve the shrimps and boil the shells in water until reduced to rich stock. Strain off the stock and reserve, discarding the shells. Make a roux on a moderate heat from butter and flour and allow to brown slightly. Set aside. Saute okras in margarine until cooked and less 'tacky'. Add the onion, celery, pepper and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Stir. Add the chopped tomatoes and roux. Stir well, adding the stock until well blended into the vegetables. Add the herbs, pepper and sauce and cook for 10 minutes on a gentle heat. Add the shrimps and crab and season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary. Add the fresh tuna and stir gently and let simmer until the fish is cooked. Serve with cornbread, rice or boiled root vegetables.

Caribbean and African Cooking: Bhaji Potlicker

In the Caribbean, they call spinach bhaji or callalloo. This is not the dish Callalloo, but the vegetable, which reminds me of an old calypso describing the cooking of bhaji in a Dutch-pot. 'Bhaji is a ting that spring it own water
To prevent the bhaji from boiling over you take a big brick and put am on the cover. When the bhaji boil down . . .' etc. I've called this dish 'Potlicker' because apart from the desire to 'lick' the pot because the food is so good, the bhaji is cooked in its own pot liquor. You should use a cast iron saucepan or casserole, or a frying pan with a lid. Forget about the brick!

Serves 3

1 lb peeled shrimps
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 lb fresh spinach, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tsp jeera or cumin, ground
finely chopped fresh chilli, to taste
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
a grate of nutmeg
1 1/2 tbsp margarine or ghee
2 tsp creamed coconut

Marinate the shrimps in lemon juice, garlic, jeera and ginger, for at least 1 hour. Cook the shrimps in a little butter or margarine for a four minutes, stirring. Set aside. Add the remaining butter or margarine the shrimp juices in the pan. Put in the onions and spinach and reduce on a moderate heat, covered. When partly reduced, crumble the stock cube and stir. Add the chilli, nutmeg, creamed coconut and shrimps. Mix well and cook for another 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Try coconut rice and side salad as an accompaniment.

Caribbean and African Cooking: Seh-beh

Like pumpkin, I prefer eggplants well done as they are more digestible. Soak dried shrimps in 1/2 cup of water for half an hour, and use this to moisten the dish. Fresh shrimps or salt cod go well in this recipe if desired instead of the dried shrimps.

Serves 3—4

2-3 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp margarine
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or
finely chopped
1 tsp ginger, crushed or
finely chopped
2 large eggplants, peeled and
cubed 2 tbsp dried shrimps,
washed well and soaked
1 tbsp tomato puree 1/2 tsp paprika
2 pinches of cinnamon black pepper, to taste salt, to taste
1 tbsp lemon or lime
2 green onions, finely

Put the oil and margarine into a large frying pan or wok over a moderate heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until soft. Add the eggplant, shrimps and shrimps' liquid and cook gently, covered, until the eggplants are reduced, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato puree, sprinkle on paprika, cinnamon, black pepper, salt and lemon juice and mix well to prevent too much sticking. Cook for another 10 minutes, or until the eggplant is done. Garnish with green onions.

Caribbean and African Cooking: King Prawns in Wine, Ginger and Spinach

This dish is created of jumbo shrimp (known as king prawns in Britain) in wine, ginger and spinach.

Serves 6

2 lbs raw jumbo shrimps,
peeled lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tbsp butter 2 tbsp olive oil 10 shallots or 1 large onion, sliced
6 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 small slices fresh ginger
1 1/4 cups white wine 1/2 cup stock or water
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp Worcestershire
sauce 1 tbsp milk 1 tbsp brown sugar 1/2 lb fresh spinach, finely

Shell the jumbo shrimps and slit the backs slightly, to remove the vein. Rinse lightly in cold water, drain and squeeze lemon juice over them and rub with half of the garlic. Cook the shrimps lightly in the butter, then set aside. Add the oil and saute the shallots or onions until soft. Mix in the tomatoes and ginger, cook for 5-10 minutes then add the white wine, stock and the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and simmer for 20 minutes, adding a little water, if necessary. Serve with cornbread or rice.

Caribbean and African Cooking: Dry Okra and Shrimps

This recipe is quick, easy and delicious, the nuttiness of the okra complementing the shrimps. The okra will become sticky while cooking but this will disappear, so don't cover the frying pan. The amount of okra can be increased, if desired.

Serves 3

1 lb peeled shrimps
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice 3/4 lb okra
2 tbsp margarine 2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground jeera a pinch of allspice
1 tsp coriander chopped finely hot pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
2 tomatoes, peeled and

Mix the shrimps, garlic and lemon juice and set aside to marinate while preparing the vegetables. Trim the okras and cut into approximately 3/4 inch pieces. Drain the shrimps and fry gently in half of the margarine for about 5 minutes, stirring well. Then remove the shrimps from the frying pan and set aside. Using the same frying pan, add the rest of the margarine and oil and fry the onions, okra, spices, pepper and salt on a moderate heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Try not to overcook. Stir in the cooked shrimps and the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with lemon and garlic rice or coconut rice.

Caribbean and African Cooking: Shrimp Palava

There are many different ways to cook Palava. This is made from peanuts, instead of egusi, in a Sierra Leone style.

Serves 4
2 tbsp vegetable oil or palm oil
1 medium onion, finely
chopped 7 oz can of tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp natural peanut
butter or ground peanuts 2 1/2 cups water
sprig of thyme or 1/2
tsp dried thyme chilli pepper and salt, to taste 1 lb spinach, fresh or
frozen and defrosted 1 small piece of smoked fish for
flavor (optional) 1 lb shrimps, fresh or
frozen and defrosted

Put the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. When hot add the onions and tomatoes. Cook on a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring. Then reduce heat to moderate and add peanut butter, creaming well into sauce with half of the water. Stir well and allow to cook, bubbling gently for 8-10 minutes; stir to prevent burning. Add the rest of the water, thyme, pepper, and salt. Wash and finely chop the fresh spinach, stir into the sauce and allow to cook on moderate heat until the sauce is thick (approximately 20 minutes). Add smoked fish and drained shrimps, stir and cook for 10 minutes longer. Serve with boiled West Indian yams, rice or ground rice.