Crab meat forms just one of the ingredients of this filling soup based on the pulp of palmnuts. Traditionally, the pulp is extracted by pounding the fleshy exterior of the palmnut, but for the Western kitchen tinned palmnut pulp has to suffice. Luckily it tastes just as good as the fresh and is available in most capital cities of the world. The palm from which the nuts are gathered grows in many tropical areas, from West Africa to Malaysia, New Guinea, Fiji and Brazil. Palmnut soup is another dish that traditionally is eaten with fufu. This combination dis is common to West Africa.
125 ml (4 oz) water
1 kg (2 lb) lean lamb shanks or chops, or shoulder of beef cut in chunks
salted pigs trotters, jointed and cleaned
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 large, ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled and puréed
750 g (1½ lb) palmnut pulp
250 ml (8 fl oz) boiling water
chilli pepper or fresh, ground red chillies (hot peppers) to taste, (optional)
4 large mushrooms, cleaned and peeled
2 giant crabs cooked whole in salted water and drained (remove legs but not the claws - save cooked legs to be added separately to the soup)
1 kg (2 lb) fish cutlets (salted, smoked, grilled, deep-fried or sundried)
Place the water, the meat and the pigs trotters in a very large, heavy-based saucepan (not a crockpot because the initial process of cooking this dish requires fairly high heat and a crockpot does not afford that level of heat to start with). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the onions and cook dry on medium heat, stirring continuously, until the outside of the meat is sealed. Add the tomatoes. Continue to simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the palmnut pulp with the boiling water, beating with a wooden spoon to form a creamy, smooth consistency. Add this to the meat mixture with ground chillies (hot peppers), the mushrooms, giant crabs and crab legs. Simmer on medium heat for 30 - 40 minutes, stirring only occasionally to prevent food sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Prepare your choice of smoked, grilled, deep-fried or sundried fish by removing any residual bones. Add the fish either whole or in chunks to the soup during the last 30 minutes to prevent it from breaking up too much and becoming mushy in the soup. Once all the ingredients are added, continue to simmer slowly until soup thickens.
Serve hot with fufu. You may choose to continue simmering the soup to thicken it and turn it into a palmnut stew, in which case you serve it with gari or cassava powder, rice or the carbohydrate of your choice.
Serves 4 - 6.
country : Ivory Coast
course : soup
source : A Taste of Africa : With over 100 traditional African recipes adapted for the modern cook / Dorinda Hafner