Collard Green “Tamales”

When I restarted this blog (geez, almost two years ago) I did my best to emphasize that I get inspiration from everywhere. I’m just as happy to eat my mom’s curry goat, my grandmother’s okra stew, or a multi-course meal in an expensive restaurant. In fact, I’m always trying to blend all of those influences together– and so far I haven’t run out of new ideas.

This is a hybrid recipe that blends the tamales I love from Colombian cuisine, and moin-moin, a Nigerian breakfast food that… admittedly isn’t my favorite. Whether you use corn, or black-eye peas, the general preparation is the same: you make a puree with meat, spices, and aromatics, and steam it in leaves. Now, it’s really hard to find banana leaves in the US, but I figure collards are a good substitute, and they’re edible–bonus points…

I didn’t add tomatoes this time,  so I won’t call it moin-moin, but it does contain many of the same ingredients. For example: you’ve probably seen put “crayfish”, “shrimp”, or “prawn” in the ingredients list of recipes over the years–what’s the difference? Well, in this case, I’m using “crayfish” (i.e. crawfish), and dried shrimp (“ede” in Yoruba, which often gets translated to “crayfish”). You’re gonna need both this time.



I quickly stir-fried the “crawfish” tails with onions, and peppers, added some pre-cooked black-eye peas, and blended everything into a paste.


I blanched the collard greens to soften them, then wrapped the pasted in the leaves like a tamal. At first, I tried to steam them in a wok with a foil lid, but I finished them off under the broiler to dry them out, and add flavor.



What’s left? Oh yeah– char some whole okra, and season with salt. It’s that easy.

Let’s cook.

You’ll need:

3 Cups Crayfish Tails

4 Cups Black-Eye Peas, pre-cooked

4-6 Okra Pods

1 Bell Pepper, minced

1/2 Onion, minced

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1 Habanero Pepper, minced

5-10 Collard Greens

1 Tsp Dried Crayfish

1 Tsp Onion Powder

Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Saute onions, garlic, and peppers in oil on medium-high heat, and season with salt. Stir in crayfish tails, then set aside to cool.
  2. Transfer the peppers, and crayfish into a blender with black-eye peas. Add dried crayfish, and spices, then blend into a thick paste.
  3. Blanch collard greens in boiling water with the stems, then shock in iced water, and cut away the stems.
  4. Roll spoonfuls of the paste in the leaves, and steam for ten minutes.
  5. Finish the “tamales” under the broiler, or on the grill until lightly charred. Brush the okra with oil, and salt, and broil.
  6. Plate and serve.



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