A few weeks ago we were asked by Mick Élysée’s team to check out his new cookbook ‘Not Guilty’, and take one of his recipes for a spin. Neither of us has cooked a lot of African food before, so we were pretty excited to try something a little out of our comfort zones.
African flavours are tipped to be one of the big food trends this year and although it’s not something either of us have a lot of experience in – we’re always excited to try new flavours and recipes and jumped at this opportunity.
Mick Élysée is a passionate Congolese-French and African food chef. His love for the culinary art started when he was just a little boy. As an adult he studied at a prestigious culinary school in France, after that he travelled the world to expand his knowledge, working in Japan, Italy, Congo and Canada before heading to London where he has been based for the past 10 years. Today, he is honoring his culture in bringing a new image to the African food through his very own creative concept “afro-fusion”: A mix of African tastes with the rest of the world.
We thumbed our way through ‘Not Guilty’ to find the right seafood recipe for us. As intrigued as we were by the caterpillar and prawn salad, we weren’t sure sourcing tasty bugs was something we could do. Instead we went for the Yam Bruschetta, featuring salt-fish.
Neither of us have cooked using yams or salt-fish before so we knew it would be a bit of a learning curve. We’ll be honest, we were both a little unsure about saltfish. We’ve had it before as a bar snack within croquettes but that was the extent of our experience. When you see it in the packet it’s not exactly the most appetising looking food, however, all it takes is rehydration to bring the fish back to life.
Here is the recipe:
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 275g of yam
- 160g of heritage tomatoes
- 160g og boneless skinless salted fish
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 red onion
- 1 deseeded chilli
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 2 garlic gloves
- 3 thyme stems
- 1 pinch of black pepper
- Place the salted fish in a saucepan with cold water and boil for about 30 minutes until desalted. Remove from the heat, pass in cold water, drain and set aside.
- Cut the yam into slices (about 2cm thick) and cook ing boiling salted water for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Shred the salted fish and dice the vegetables
- Heat a non-stick frying-an over a medium heat and add the oil. Add yam and let it sizzle until it is golden around the edges on each side.Remove from heat and set aside. In the same frying pan, cook vegetables and the salted fish over a low heat for about 2-4 minutes then set aside.
- Place the yams on a plate, garnish with the mixture and finish with the cooking juices.
We’re not sure if we cooked the yams quite right, and would be keen to get some tips on this, because neither of us were very keen on the yams. They seemed to have quite a powdery texture, which with the fish and vegetable mix didn’t work brilliantly. However, the fish and veg mix was a nice combination, especially with the thyme. Unfortunately, our tomatoes didn’t let a huge amount of juice out, meaning we didn’t have a lot of cooking sauce making the dish quite dry. Becky wasn’t too keen on the dish, however Gemma put the leftover fish and vegetable mix with rice and it worked really well and was a nice combination.
Although this dish itself wasn’t a huge success for us, we’re keen to try more of these flavours so we’ll be tasting and learning from experts like Mick in future. Cooking with salt fish was really interesting, and we did do some experimenting on some dishes (post coming to the blog soon). It seems we need to do some more tasting before hitting the kitchen. Any excuse for a restaurant trip!