Chicken Peanut Soup (Ghanian Nkate Nkwan, Nkatenkwan, Nkate Nkwanin)

>> Sunday, August 13, 2017


Chicken Peanut Soup (Ghanian Nkate Nkwan, Nkatenkwan, Nkate Nkwanin)


This chicken stew in peanut sauce sounds like something you might find in a Thai restaurant, where they tend to use peanuts in main dishes. In fact, this stew was taught to my family by our adopted sisters from Ghana. It's a traditional dish there and is super-easy to make, and contains no unusual ingredients.

My parents are amazing humanitarians who have worked for social justice and world peace for decades. Early on, they realized they didn't know much about the often troubled African continent, so they set themselves on a self-study program to learn all they could about the countries of Africa. They believe that helping others starts with education and respect. Today, they know more about the social and political facts in Africa than some citizens of those countries.


About five years ago, Mom and Dad decided they wanted to be a support system for African students studying at the university at Bowling Green, Ohio. They realized how difficult it is for young adults to live nearly halfway across the world from their families and they wanted to be a second family.

That is how Elizabeth and Josephine Effah came into our lives. They are students from Ghana who were studying public health and policy. They are smart, kind, gorgeous, funny, and hard-working young ladies who have become part of our family. They've celebrated holidays and family reunions with us, and Mom and Dad have attended their graduations and other special events. We are truly blessed to have widened our family with new sisters. You can't have too many sisters, am I right?


Elizabeth, Josephine, and her son Myron

Elizabeth sent me this recipe recently. It is a traditional Ghanaian recipe that can vary widely, though the core ingredients of peanuts, chicken, tomatoes, peppers, and onions remains the same. It is spicy-hot and creamy all at the same time.

While researching the recipe, Joe and I learned that the name varies (Nkate Nkwan, Nkatenkwan, Nkate Nkwanin, and other variations). Peanuts are sometimes called "groundnuts" in Ghana. A different tuber called bambara was used centuries ago, but peanuts imported from South America by the Portuguese began to replace those groundnuts.

If you were in Africa, this stew might be served to you with the chicken bones, which you might like to gnaw for those tasty little bits that cling to the bones. You might also get some dumplings or a mound of a mashed potato-like substance; these are called fufu, made of pounded yams, cassava roots, or green plantains. Fufu is common in many central and west African countries. Through colonial slave trade and emigration, it has migrated over to the Caribbean and Central American countries as mofongo and other specialties. In west Africa, this peanut stew might also be served over rice, or with floating balls of sticky rice.


Effah Chicken Peanut Soup

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped finely
1 green pepper (or orange or red) chopped finely
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
6 cups of water
16 oz. of natural chunky peanut butter (no sugar)
1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce

Directions

Mix peanut butter with 4 cups of water and blend with whisk. Begin cooking on low heat, stirring often.  Meanwhile, in a fry pan, mix chicken, onions, and peppers. Cook until chicken is cooked through.  Add to peanut mixture with seasonings and some salt. Add tomato sauce and two more cups of water. Cook with frequent stirring for an hour on low heat. Do not cover. Some like it over rice. It is good without chicken, too.

Serves 4-6.

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Sake-Marinated Salmon

>> Friday, August 4, 2017


Sake-Marinated Salmon


Our local grocery store just had a $1.99 a pound sale on salmon fillets, which is about as cheap as I'd ever seen. These fillets were a little thin, but still tender, and they were begging for a delicate marinade instead of the big bold flavors that usually go well with salmon.

I remembered the bottle of sake stored in our bar since - oh, I don't know when - and made a nutty marinade with it. Wasabi or white horseradish gives the fish a little kick, too. The final ingredient is lovage, from a friend's garden. This herb is popular in French and German cooking and boasts a flowery celery flavor. If a friend doesn't have any, snip off the leaves from a stalk of celery and use those instead.

This marinade will work with any fish, but thin fillets are probably best.

Ingredients

4 4-6 oz salmon fillets
1 cup dry sake
1 tsp wasabi paste or horseradish
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp lovage, or celery leaves
1/4 cup chives, snipped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

Directions

Wash the salmon fillets and pat them dry. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Place the fish in a platter and pour the marinade over them. Turn them over until the marinade is on all sides. Allow to absorb the flavors for at least 1 hour before grilling or roasting.

Top with toasted sesame seeds before serving, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

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