Well when it “kwacoco” bible!!! LOL. Okay, maybe its not that funny, but I admit, I love corny jokes. I am love the corniest, nerdiest jokes, and I could laugh at them for hours while everyone else looked at me like I was crazy. But yeah, back to topic: Kwacoco bible. I have a love/hate relationship with kwacoco seeing that it is my late great-grandmothers traditional meal, yet I never got to eat it when she cooked because it had wayyyyy more pepper than my tongue could handle. Over the years, I have come to appreciate good kwacoco, and seeing that I had some left over cocoyams from the ekwang, I decided to make some this weekend. I believe it came out great seeing that my friend who just got back from Cameroon, devoured the slices I served her.
Making kwacoco is kinda similar to making ekwang right up until after you grate the cocoyams, and if you missed that post, check it out here. Once the cocoyams were peeled, washed and grated I kept that aside, and prepped everything else. I had some more dry fish which I had soaked in warm water. I took the flesh away from the bones, and shredded into small pieces
Next up was the spinach. I got a one pound bag of frozen chopped spinach. I had to soak the bag in warm water to defrost it before I could wash it. Like any good green vegetable, this thing shrunk to some ridiculous size after washing. Took me back to the summer we spent in the village, and we would spend hours picking huckleberry only to cook it, and barely have enough to last through lunch and dinner. Good times I tell ya! But yeah, the spinach definitely shrunk
With that out of the way, I seasoned with generous amounts of Maggi©, pepper and crayfish. I also crumbled up the spinach and folded into the mixture before keeping aside.
The first time I made kwacoco, I couldnt figure out for the life of me why it looked like the oil, and the kwacoco had gone their separate ways once I refrigerated it. Then finally I realized what I did wrong. I put cold palm oil in the mixture. That my friends is a no no. I wish I could explain the science behind that, but na for here the science wey I sabi reach. Do NOT use cold oil. You dont want the oil to be like smoking hot, lukewarm will suffice. So, I placed the oil on the stove for a few minutes, and took it off when I deemed it warm enough
I poured the oil into the mixture, and folded in all the ingredients. Normally, if I were in Cameroon I wouldn’t even attempt to taste raw cocoyams, because those bad boys will cause your throat to itch like crazy. Somehow, these malanga roots don’t seem to have that effect, so after adding my seasoning, I tasted to make sure I got it right, and adjusted accordingly. Finally it was time to wrap up. Unlike with ekwang, wrapping kwacoco is not as tedious. Most people use saran wrap, and aluminium foil and call it a day, but I wanted a more “authentic taste” so I went with banana leaves which is what is used back home. After all, I only decided to make kwacoco when I saw the banana leaves at the store. God bless Texas! I swear I am hardly ever homesick, because I can find just about anything I want from home in this place.
Like I was saying, I used banana leaves. I started off by cutting the leaves into the portions I wanted them in, and then I washed with a sponge seeing that I was going to be wrapping food in them and all. I had to be careful with the leaves while cutting cos they seemed to tear quite easily, which is when I remembered that back home the leaves were heated first, before they were washed and cut. So I missed that step, but I could still fix it, except I did not have an open fire to heat them over. What to do? What to do? Mhhhhh
As you can see from the picture above, yup! I used the burners on my stove! I turned on the big one, and got to heating. If you look hard, you will notice that heating up the leaf changes the color: from a deep green to a brownish-green tint. I repeated the process all over for each one, making sure that I got the entire expanse of the leaf. You will notice that the leaf is less rigid, and a lot more flexible. I washed the leaves again after heating just because.
Like ekwang, you place the barter vertically across on the leaf. Tuck the short end in, and roll over gently until you get to the other end. Next, fold both ends in, and you’re ready to place in the pot. Talking about the pot, ekwang is prepared by steaming ie it is cooked with steam, and not by boiling. So you really want to minimize the contact between the bundles and water. Back home, the hard stalk on the banana leaf was used. Given that I did not have that, I used the extra leaves to stuff the bottom of the pot
And no, there was nothing in the pot at this point, except for water and leaves. Unlike ekwang, kwacoco does not need to be arranged in any particular order, so I just kinda placed them on each other. The pot was really full, but that was because of all the leaves I had in there.
Turned up the heat, on medium high, and let these cook for about an hour and ten minutes. I was going to leave them in for an hour and a half, but it was 2am by the time I got done. I was sure that if I’d tried to stay up for the other 20 minutes, I was going to burn down the apartment. I did leave the pot closed after I went to bed, so I think it did cook some more even after I turned off the heat.
And yeah, I’d drool too if I were you looking at this picture, because right about now it’s taking a lot of self-control for me not to go to the kitchen and destroy some of this! My nigerian friend, after tasting now calls it “cocoyam moi moi” lol. and that’s fine by me!
- About 10 Cocoyams
- 3/4 cup of Crayfish
- 1lb of smoked dry fish
- 1lb bag of frozen chopped spinach
- 6 tablespoons of maggi
- 4 teaspoons of habanero pepper (ground)
- 1cup of warm palm oil
- Peel, wash and grater cocoyams
- Defrost, wash and squeeze spinach. Try to squeeze out as much as 90% of the water
- Wash fish and remove bones. Crumble into small pieces
- Season grated cocoyam with Maggi, crayfish and pepper.
- Fold in spinach and smoked fish
- In a small pot, warm oil for a few minutes. Pour warm oil into cocoyam barter and mix gently. Ensure that oil is spread out evenly through mixture. Set aside.
- Wash and cut up banana leaves. Heat up leaves over hot burner until greenish-brown. Wash again.
- Pour out about 1/3 cup worth of cocoyam mixture on to leaf and wrap gently, folding edges over. Repeat process until out of barter.
- Cover the base of the pot with leftover leaves such that kwacoco bundles do not touch the water
- Place the bundles in the pot. Cover pot, and let cook for about an hour and fifteen minutes on medium high heat.
- Remove one bundle from pot, unwrap, and admire the fruit of your labor
- Take a real good look
- Grab a fork and dig in!