Note From Jon


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Photo Recipe #1: Chebu juen

Damn. Why didn’t I think of this before. Take pictures along with my notes in cooking class! I don’t cook much (I reluctantly accept that cereal doesn’t count), but I have taken several Indian cooking classes, however I cook the meals so rarely I forget how things are supposed to look. Well I won’t have that problem with the Senegalese national dish of Chebu juen thanks to my detailed photo log (phlog?). It’s a stewed dish of fish, rice and vegetables. However it is not a stew. The ingredients are cooked and removed from the stew until finally the rice bit is cooked in the broth and soaks it all up, then the fish and vegetables are served on a bed of stew-infused rice.

Having first learned about this dish in the African Voices exhibit at the Natural History Museum, Darren and I used it as a clue in the Trivia Scavenger Hunt we organized. Then on my trip to West Africa last summer I had the opportunity to try Chebu juen (however it is spelled) in the fishing village of Ndangane (now that’s some fresh fish!). Along with Yassa Poullet it was my favorite food from the whole trip, so I was excited to see that Arlington County was offering a class dedicated to this specific meal. The result tasted nearly as good as it had in Senegal (the fish wasn’t as good, but the paste which the instructor stuffed in the fish was the best part and it wasn’t in the original dish). We also made the bissap drink which I had enjoyed in-country. It’s a tea made from dried hibiscus flowers, mint leaves and sugar to taste. If you happen to live near Arlington, I definitely recommend taking the Adult Education cooking courses that the county offers. For those of you outside of the area you can check out the photos and recipe (at least until I am asked to remove it). Now if they’ll just teach a class on Yassa Poullet…

Chebu Djeun (Senegalese rice and fish dish)
Adapted from Khady’s recipe
Serves: 12 people
1 large grouper or blue fish, or red snapper (about 5 lbs) cut in 2” to 3” thick steak size
3 medium onions chopped
1 big can of crushed tomato (~28 oz), one small can of tomato paste (6 oz)
Stuffing paste consisting of ½ cup parsley, ½ cup scallions, 3-4 garlic cloves, salt, Mrs.Dash, and one small habanero pepper blended in food processor
2 cups canola oil
5 lbs jasmine rice bit (may also be called broken rice)
3 small hot peppers (optional)
Manioc (yucca root) peeled and cut in 3’’ sections
2 lbs carrots peeled cut in half
1 small cabbage cut in four
4 eggplants (mini ones)
Spanish squash (calabaza) cut in 3”
2 turnips cut in half
3-4 Tamerind seed pods (optional)

Heat oil in a heavy-bottom pot
Cut slits in fish steaks and stuff with parsley paste
Brown stuffed fish flesh side about 45 seconds set aside
Put chopped onions in oil cook 3 to 5 minutes
Add cans of crushed tomatoes and paste + Mrs. Dash, for approximately 10 minutes stirring occasionally
Add 2 cans of water (use the empty crushed tomato can to measure water)
Put all vegetables in and cook until done (about 30-40 minutes), then take vegetables out of stew and keep warm in oven set to 200° (remove Tamerind seed pods from their shells and add them for the last couple of minutes before removing vegetables if desired)
Add fish to cook for 5 – 10 minutes, take fish out and keep aside
Wash rice bit, drain water, microwave 5 minutes and pour into stew broth; bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to medium cook for ½ hour, turn rice and cook for 10 or 15 more minutes
When rice is done, serve fish and vegetables on bed of rice

Bissap (sweet drink from dried hibiscus flowers)
Serves: Well it makes about two liters
A handful of dried hibiscus flowers
A handful of mint leaves
A quart of water for tea
A quart of water for diluting
Sugar to taste

Boil quart of water in dried hibiscus flowers
Cook tea for about 5 minutes and turn off heat
Add mint leaves and leave to cool for several minutes
Strain into pitcher and add another quart of water
Add sugar to taste

Notes to Jon:
  • Rice bit was purchased at asian food store in the Eden Center, fish from Slavin and Sons, and all other ingredients from Shoppers
  • The stuffing was especially good so don’t skip that step
  • I preferred the turnips and carrots to the Spanish pumpkin, cabbage and eggplant
  • The dried hibiscus flowers came directly from Senegal (and she gave us each a couple of handfuls to take home) but I don’t know where to get this locally

  • I believe she said that she makes it the night before for guests and then just cooks the rice in the broth and serves it

1 comment:

Laura said...

jonny luv, you are truly america's own "fanny"~!!!!

(that's an f-word reference (just in case you don't get it, hee hee), one of those gordon ramsay shows).....

but seriously, i'm going to cook this!!