I’ve been psyching you up for this all along. First it was lamb stew, then lamb arepas, and now the real reason you’re here. Have I told you how much I love goat? Somehow I haven’t had it on the blog all this time, but let me tell you–it’s the best. This week on #RonaCooking–I mean…CM, I’m taking you to Ondo, Nigeria for my attempt at a local delicacy: Asùn (Ah-soon).
So, you have some fresh goat meat–are you nervous? Don’t be! The flavor is similar to lamb, but it’s leaner, so it needs longer to cook. I’ve also read that it’s a much more sustainable protein than beef, so you can be a carnivore and reduce your carbon footprint all at once. I just don’t cook it that often because it isn’t convenient to buy without easy access to the farmer’s market. Plus, I’m still getting Dani to accept it.
Look for goat stew meat– usually cut into chunks. If you want authentic Asùn, get it with the skin on. Season with salt, onion powder, and paprika, then marinate it overnight in the fridge. You could cook this under the broiler, but I wanted a flame to hit it like the real thing in Nigeria. Toss the meat into a grill wok, and grill until well seared on all sides. Then, lower the heat to medium until tender. You’ll finish the cooking by stewing the meat with peppers right before you serve it. This is gonna be awesome…
Blend your peppers and onion, and sauté it just like you would to make jollof rice. Then, once the sauce thickens, stir in the grilled goat right before you serve it. Asùn is spicy– but it’s not like the dry heat you get from suya. Wait, what am I doing? You’ve been here before–you already know.
Meanwhile, I’ve been craving another Yorùbá dish called Áṣáró (Ah-Sha-Row) for a long, long time. It’s stewed yam smashed together with the ubiquitous onions and peppers. Yams are also tricky to get right now (you can tell I’m really struggling!) Luckily, one of my cousins in Nigeria came in clutch with a variation made from plantains. You should check out her blog/instagram (@larascravings).
Now, grocery store plantains are nothing like the ones you can get from the market, so these were a little skimpy. Ideally you would want larger plantains, and bonus points if you can get them slightly more ripe. Not quite as sweet as Maduros, but at least a little more yellow. I’ve probably mentioned that green plantains behave like potatoes, and ripe plantains behave like…banana-potatoes? Basically, a banana, but more starch, and texture. With that in mind, slightly-ripe plantains work best here because they are easier to crush. If they are too starchy, they tend to crumble instead.
Peel, and dice the plantains then boil in salted water. Once the plantains are soft, drain the water (but save about half a cup on the side. Think: pasta water). Add palm oil, and as my cousin says, give it time to cook to ensure that the palm oil’s flavor doesn’t overpower the dish. Season, add some of that pepper and onion stew, and simmer. Then, add some leaves– there are a lot of options in Nigeria, but spinach (or even better: collard greens) are an easy substitute in the US. Finally, smash the plantains lightly. If it gets too thick, or won’t blend well, add a little of that water you saved, and try again. Keep this warm until it’s time to eat.
It’s hard to take on a regional delicacy, but I hope I made all the Ondo people out there proud. Nigeria’s cuisines are as diverse as its languages (there are hundreds) and the world needs to know!
2lb Goat, cubed
3 Plantains, diced
4 Bell Peppers, diced
1 Poblano Pepper, diced
1-3 Habañero/Scotch Bonnet Peppers (to taste)
1 Yellow Onion, diced
3 Cups Collard Greens, sliced thinly
1/2 Red Onion, sliced thinly
3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Tbs Parsley, minced
1 Tbs Paprika
1 Tbs Onion Powder
1 Tbs Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Dried Thyme
1 Tsp Ginger Powder
1 Tsp Dried Crayfish
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Tbs Palm Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
- Season the meat with salt, pepper, garlic/onion powder, and paprika. Seal, and marinate in the fridge overnight.
- Add 1 Tbs of vegetable oil to the meat, then transfer grill/broil on high to sear. Once browned on all sides, lower the heat to medium, and roast until the meat begins to shred easily (approx. 25 minutes). Cover, and set aside.
- Sauté the yellow onion, peppers, and garlic in the remaining vegetable oil until a sauce forms. In a separate pot, boil the plantain cubes in salted water until soft.
- Drain the plantains (but reserve a small amount of the water), then simmer in half of the pepper/onion stew from Step 3. Season to taste (salt, pepper, crayfish, lime), then stir in shredded greens. Lightly smash the plantains to thicken.
- Stir the grilled goat into the remaining stew to reheat. Garnish with parsley.
- Plate and serve.