Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pounded Cassava Dumpling (Fufu)

To continue the theme of island-shaped food, here we have fufu in a spicy peanut-chicken soup.  Like bread or rice, fufu is a staple food of West and Central Africa.  It may be made from cassava, yam, plantain, or a combination of these.  Said starches are typically boiled and then pounded into a squishy paste.

This was the first time I had ever purchased cassava.  I had to look online to see what it looked like.  After checking four different markets I finally found some at the big Whole Foods under another name - yuca.  The recipe called for shredding the peeled cassava, then steaming it for forty-five minutes, and then mashing the daylights out of it with a blunt object.  Something neat happens during the pounding.  The stuff that starts out looking like raw hash browns turns into a stretchy, uniform mass.

Until now I held the modest assumption that vegetables do not contain bones.  This does not apply to cassava.  Once you shred, steam and mash it, you will discover a handful of pin bone-like twigs in the mix.  I pulled most of them but did end up biting down on one or two during dinner.

Until now I also hadn't thought of soup as a finger food.  But with fufu, yes it is.  To eat it, you pinch off a piece of the fufu, shape it into a tiny bowl with your fingers if it's not too sticky, scoop some soup, and eat the whole thing.  This recipe made a lot more soup than fufu, but that won't be a problem; we'll be happy to have the leftovers with rice or noodles.

No comments: