My glorious Citizens! The Monarch of Munificence, the Hetman of Hegemony – YOUR TFD! – has decided to once again visit the fair shores of Western Africa for today’s recipe of repute! As I am tired and not feeling well, I will share with you a simple yet delectable green sauce that is a favored condiment in the proud country of Senegal and can be made in under 30 seconds (a true TFD rarity, as My regular readers are well aware!)! Still – the exception proves the rule and while this may be a simple condiment, it is anything but humble thanks to My superlative and magical benison upon the recipe ingredients and proportions!
You can think of rof sauce as an African chimichurri, as it shares much of the flavor profile of this Argentine classic but with the added savor of some extra umami courtesy of TFD’s superlative spicing sorcery! As you assuredly know, chimichurri is made of finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano and white vinegar – though there are regional variations, with Uruguay adding red pepper flakes for an added kick (classic rof sauce also includes this spice). Despite the strong similarities in flavor profile, the two recipes are not believed to be related in any way and be advised that My version goes full-on West African in its spicing!
The cuisine of Senegal has been influenced by nations like France, Portugal and those of North Africa, and also by many ethnic groups, the largest being the Wolof; Islam, which first penetrated the region in the 11th century; and various European cultures, especially the French, who held the country as a colony until 1960. In fact, French is the official language, followed by Wolof, the main indigenous language.
Because Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean, fish is very important. Chicken, lamb, peas, eggs and beef are also used in Senegalese cooking, but not pork, due to the nation’s largely Muslim population. In the semi-arid interior, peanuts and millet are the primary crop, as well as couscous, white rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, black-eyed peas and various vegetables. Meats and vegetables are typically stewed or marinated in herbs and spices and then poured over rice or couscous, or simply eaten with bread.
Throughout the country, meals tend to be single-dish affairs, with everyone grazing from one bowl or platter, using spoons or bare hands to scoop up meat and vegetables — always supplemented with rice or couscous. Desserts are very rich and sweet, combining native ingredients with the extravagance and style characteristic of the French impact on Senegal’s culinary methods. They are often served with fresh fruit and are traditionally followed by coffee or tea.
Senegalese table manners can be somewhat formal. You should wait to be shown to your seat. Seating is often a matter of hierarchy. A washing basin will be brought out before the meal is served for people to wash their hands. Women and men may eat at separate tables in the same room or they may eat in separate rooms.
If the meal is served on the floor or a low table, sit cross-legged and try not to let your feet touch the food mat. Do not begin eating until the eldest male does. Food is often served from a communal bowl. You should eat from the section of the bowl in front of you. Never reach across the bowl to get something from the other side. Eat only with the right hand. Expect to be urged to take second helpings. Sample each dish.
Leaving a little bit of food on your plate or your section of the communal bowl indicates that you have been looked after. People generally stay for half an hour or more after dining to continue building the personal relationship.
As further noted in these excerpts from a fantastic article on Senegalese cuisine I found on saveur.com:
The country’s cuisine reflects the influence of its west African neighbors and Morocco, to the north, as well as recent patterns of immigration—particularly, since the 1950s, from Vietnam. There are also the legacies of French and Portuguese colonialism, and a varied topography ranging from a seafood-laden coast to a semi-arid interior awash in millet and peanuts. Despite its recent election turmoil, Senegal has been an oasis of stability and democratic rule in west Africa since winning independence from the French in 1960.
Still, hunger is endemic in rural areas, and the country continues to suffer from periodic food shortages. All these factors converge in the capital, Dakar. Here and throughout the country, meals tend to be single-dish affairs, with everyone grazing from one bowl or platter, using spoons or bare hands to scoop up meat and vegetables—always supplemented with rice or couscous. Sosa kaani, an incendiary sauce made from Scotch bonnet peppers, is on every table at every meal.
As I quickly learned, a guest in Senegal is treated like a king, given the best seat, the biggest cut of meat, and encouraged to eat until he or she is bursting.
While we eat, Medoune commences the ataya, an elaborate, three-cup tea ritual that is ubiquitous in west Africa. Chinese gunpowder tea is brewed with sugar and mint and served in a tiny glass called a kas. The first serving is strong and bitter; the second a tad sweeter, with a little mint added; the third is a mint-infused sugar-bomb. Each serving has a heady top layer of foam, achieved by pouring the tea from one kas to another from a great height.
Boys apprentice at the ataya for years before they master the proper foam-to-tea ratio. Medoune, who considers himself something of an ataya savant, clearly relishes the opportunity to showcase his talents. In the midst of a busy day, the ataya functions as a social and gustatory salve—an excuse merely to sit and chat and enjoy a mellow, if highly caffeinated, moment of quiet.
Unsurprisingly to the loyal Citizenry of TFD Nation, I have tried to make My rof sauce as ruthlessly authentic as possible, even adapting the ‘standard’ spices used in most Internet recipes to their equivalent West African versions wherever possible. For example, rather than using just any old black pepper (you certainly can do so), I call instead for Grains of Selim, a unique pepper-like spice found only in West Africa (buy a top-quality version at the link).
I also call for a major hit of umami not found in the original recipe by using ground-up Nigerian crayfish bouillon cubes instead of kosher salt (buy them at the link, or again just use regular old salt if you want to be pedestrian) as well as specifying a far more complex spice profile by using my own West African curry powder instead of just regular red pepper flakes (the flakes are obviously much easier to use and are also delicious, if a bit one-note – go with what your gut tells you!).
Citizens, rof is a delicious and truly simple sauce (just chuck everything in a food processor!) that enlivens everything savory – I hope you see fit to try it as a condiment to enhance your next roast chicken, for example! It will last a few days pre-made in the fridge, assuming there is any left over from your meal!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
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