This afternoon has been quite funny! I had to take a picture of AND describe what a yam is, according to us Africans and Carribean folks because to Americans, this is not yam, this is a log of wood. LOL. If an American offers you yams, what you will be getting is what we call Sweet Potatoes. So yes, this picture was necessary. This is the yam we will be cooking with for this recipe. You can find it, as well as all other ingredients listed below, in any African grocery store.
To answer some of the questions that I already answered on my twitter; No, it does not taste anything like sweet potatoes (American yams), it tastes more like Yucca (cassava), but still not exactly like it. No, it does not taste like regular potatoes either.
It is also NOT a log of wood, stop throwing away your friend's/roommate's yam!!! Lol!
Next, this is a pottage, not a porridge. There's a difference.
1/2 Cup Palm Oil
1 Medium Sized Onion
Beef or Chicken Stock
Oporo - Large Dried Shrimp
1 Red Bell Pepper
2 Cups Chopped Fresh Spinach
2 Seasoning Cubes
Salt & Pepper
De-seed and wash your bell pepper, add to a blender with 1/2 an onion and the heads of your dried shrimp or crayfish. I opted for the head of the shrimp because, it gives the same flavor, but a little deeper. Also I will be using the body of the shrimp, so why waste the head?
In the pic, the bell pepper is already blended because I needed some for something else, so don't let that confuse you.
After a couple of whirls, this is what you'll get. Set aside.
Cut up as much yam as you'd like, peel, cut into about 3 inch pieces, wash and transfer to a pot.
Pour in beef/chicken stock and pepper blend...
Wash dried fish to get rid of any dirt particles and add to the pot.
Dried fish is different from smoked fish, in flavor and consistency. This is some dried croaker that I bought in Nigeria in December, you can also buy dried fish in any African store in the states, Europe or England and it doesn't matter what type of fish it is.
Add dried fish to the yam, add a little more water, enough to come up to the level of the yams. Adding the yam at this point is alright because it can withstand a longer cooking time than fresh fish and/or smoked fish. It'll also flavor your food properly with the longer cooking.Cook on medium to high heat with the pot uncovered.
When the cooking liquid has reduced to about half and your yam is soft enough to break off with a spoon, use a wooden spoon to break it to smaller pieces and make a mush of some of the pieces. This will thicken to give you your pottage. If you do this when you still have a lot of cooking liquid in the pot, you will not get any pottage, it will just be watery.
I'm not writing any cooking time because no 2 yams are the same, some are softer than others. Cook to this point by sight and feel.
I also want to point out that I haven't added any oil to the yam yet, the color you see is from the bell pepper. Cooking with bell pepper will have you not need to use as much palm oil in order to get the color of your yam right, thereby making it a tad healthier.
Add palm oil, body of the dried shrimps, sliced onions and smoked fish.
Notice the difference in the look of the smoked fish? This cannot withstand
You can buy smoked mackerel, but I smoked mine using a stove top kettle smoker. I will do a mini blog post for that at later time.
Mix gently and turn the heat down low and cook for about 5 - 7 minutes.
Add chopped fresh spinach, mix and take off the heat immediately. You can also use collard greens. Back home, I would use Ugu leaves.
You can use frozen spinach, but please don't if you can help it. Nothing beats fresh!
I had mine for lunch with peppered beef ( spicy beef tips). You can adapt my Peppered Chicken recipe in my Coconut Rice post for this. To give your peppered beef a kick, add a splash of sesame seed oil to the peppers while cooking/frying.