This past year cook books have become an important part of my food journey. In the past I loved looking through the food photography but not much at the words. Recently, I’ve been enamored with creating new flavorful combinations and mouth-watering experiences at home. This has led me to try different recipes and ingredients that I’m not too familiar with. When the opportunity to receive a copy of restaurateur and Chef; Pierre Thiam’s cookbook titled, “Modern Senegalese Recipes From the Source To the Bowl”, I was happy to add a new resource to my collection.
After I received the book and initially skimmed through, I became overwhelmed by all the new ingredients I was introduced to. Even more so by the fact there were loads of recipes that were gluten-free.
The beautiful narratives and experiences of Senegal throughout the text, as well as vibrant portraits of its country men and women were intriguing. This led my studies to our large wall map, which then led to “googling” the beaches, and then finally declaring “I wanna go!”
Of course the book will have to do for now, and it does.
While browsing through the pages searching for a recipe I could manage with some kitchen staples, I came across a familiar one. Salmon Yuca-Croquettes. The Yuca (also termed cassava) were the Senegal variation from the southern African-American traditional breadcrumbs or cornmeal. I no longer eat cornmeal nor breadcrumbs so the use of Yuca was right up my alley. The recipe concluded by topping the Salmon Croquettes in a Tamarind sauce made with garlic, honey, scotch peppers, and a few other ingredients. Perfect.
Salmon croquettes are a southern soul food staple. They’re traditional to African culture which makes them perfect for a celebration such as Kwanzaa. Instead of using fresh yucca I used pre-cooked dry yucca I purchase at our local African Grocer.
The recipe adheres to all my food allergy restrictions and turned out delicious. They were given even more life with a simple yet complimentary lemon sauce.
I was graciously sent two selections of House of Mandela wine, all Fair Trade wines might I add.
This entire dish was paired with House of Mandela Chardonnay selection. The lemon and salmon with the House of Mandela Chardonnay came together wonderfully in flavor.
I will say I’m partial to reds, and initially the Cabernet Sauvignon caught my eye, and for good reason once I sipped. It was delightful. “Intense dark berries”, creates a beautiful base ending with soft caramel notes. The Cabernet Sauvignon would be best paired with a nice steak and dark leafy greens.
As for the Salmon Croquettes and lemony sauce the Chardonnay was best. It turned out lovely. I saved enough to share a small glass with hubby for our Kwanzaa feast to end the week.
My recipe was pretty easy and traditional. Only variation made from my mothers salmon cakes was using cassava in place of bread crumbs and adding capers. I also used soy-free mayonnaise, and fresh cooked salmon vs canned. I didn’t post the recipe I made above because it is so traditional with not much variation besides using dry Yuca (cassava).
I would suggest you try the Salmon coquette recipe below and check out this amazing book by Pierre Thiam.
- 1/2 Lbs yuca, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 Lbs boneless, skinless salmon fillet
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying.
- Tamarind Sauce ( in Senegal)
- Place the Yuca in a pot and cover with salted water.
- Bring to a boil reduce heat to medium, and cook until the Yuca is very soft, about 20 minutes. Drain well and let cool until it is easy to handle. Remove and discard the string-like fibrous core and finely chop the yuca.
- While the yuca is cooking, finely chop the salmon with a sharp chefs knife. Place the salmon in a large bowl.
- Add the chopped yuca, onion, cilantro, salt and pepper to the salmon and mix until well combined. Using your hands, shape into golf ball-size balls and set aside on a baking sheet or platter. WHen your hands get too sticky, rinse them under cold running water and continue shaping the balls until all the mixture is used.
- Line another baking sheet or platter with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy, straight-sided pan to depth of 1 inch, and heat to 365 F over mediu-high heat. Fry the balls in batches until golden brown all over, turning with a slotted spoon. Remove with the slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve hot, drizzled with the tamarind glaze.