Fusion on the Fives: Russia and Nigeria

Nigerian Solyanka:  нигерийский соля́нка (I only used Russian because I think the Cyrillic alphabet looks cool)

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Wow.  It has been a while.  But here we are again… Fusion on the Fives!  My (probably unnecessary) random number generator has assigned a fusion of Russian and Nigerian cuisines.  These are countries with pretty different cultures and climates.  So I decided to do a spin on a Russian soup that I considered featuring in the previous Russia post, and integrate some Nigerian flavors.  The result was Nigerian Solyanka… you know… for those cold Nigerian winters.

Solyanka is a spicy and sour soup from Russia, well originally from the Ukraine… but I won’t get into that discussion.  What most attracted me to solyanka is its use of pickles (real pickles – dill pickled cucumbers) and olives.  I am a fan of pickles, and Sous Chef is an even bigger fan of pickles.  Most recipes I found for Solyanka emphasized salami and coldcuts, but emphasized this is a soup to put all of the random meats and produce you have laying around.  I decided to combine a bunch of the recipes I saw around with the Nigerian method of making jallof rice, because why shouldn’t your tomatoes be fried and spicy?

 

Ingredients:

  • 1lb chuck beef (or any stew meat), cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 7 oz. hard salami, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 habanero peppers (or other spicy pepper such as scotch bonnet), chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 3 large dill kosher pickles, chopped
  • 5-10 olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced into ¼ inch slices
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced
  • handful of peanut
  • maggi chicken broth cube (or other chicken broth if you hate multiculturalism)
  • 3 oz. tomato paste

Method:

Start by gathering your ingredients together (in the most picturesque way possible, of course).

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Peel and deseed the tomatoes (no need to  go crazy, just get rid of a few of the seeds preferably).  Core and deseed the peppers.  Throw them all into a food processor and pulse until a smooth liquidy paste forms.

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Put the tomato mixture in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and reduce the mixture until it thicker, and a richer red color.  You are just trying to get rid of some of the excess water from the tomatoes.

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Then, in a separate saucepan, heat about 1/4 cup oil over medium heat, add the onions, and saute until translucent.

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Once translucent, add the tomato mixture to the onions and stir.  Then stir in tomato paste.

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Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes start to separate from the oil and they seem thoroughly fried.

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Place the tomato mixture (now called tomato stew) in a fine sieve and allow some of the oil to drain.

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In a dutch oven or large sauce pan, because you can never have too many dirty dishes, add 2 tbsp palm oil, and heat over medium-high.  Add the meat cubes and brown.

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(Look at the color of that oil.)

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Allow the meat to brown more than this:
Solyanka16Then toss in the carrots, cucumbers, thyme, bay leaves, maggi cube, and 6-8 cups of water.

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Bring the soup to a boil and reduce to simmer.  While the soup is heating up, chop up and add the pickles and olives.

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Allow the soup to simmer for 1 hour or until the beef is tender.

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Try to skim off some of the oil from the top of the broth.

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The longer you let it go, the more rich the flavor will get.

Serve with chopped peanuts.

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The Verdict?  Not my most beautiful dish, but the flavor profile was great.  The olives and pickles added a great briny quality that regular salt wouldn’t achieve.  The tomato stew really gave a depth of tomato flavor totally different from tossing in a can of chopped tomatoes or fresh tomatoes.  Maybe Nigeria and Russia aren’t as far apart as they seem.  (Or maybe they are but both have good food).  Next up:  Back to the Americas with Mexico!  And I swear it won’t take another several months for the next update.

 

 

 

 

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