It’s Mothers Day and I wanted to make something with my mother in mind. I am currently not with her – my kenkey partner as we sit down wack a few bowls of this together. It’s only my mother, sister and I who are loyal to this, the men however, shy away often times but do make their way back from time to time. I told her over the phone that I would be making grilled mackerel with pepper and Kenkey from scratch (not the kenkey) and I also sent her this photo which she was tremendously pleased about. This is a Ghanaian dish – my mother is Ghanaian and it also happens to be Ghana Independence Day so what a better way to celebrate than indulging in one of our home comforts and my mothers favourite.
People often get confused with where I am from so I thought I’ll let you know before we move on as it’s a question I get a lot. My father is Nigerian and my mother is Ghanaian and Anglo-Canadian. We connect with all sides and each is ingrained in our gastronomic pursuits and practices. Eating all the various foods both sides have to offer.
Kenkey also known to as Dokunu, is a sour dumpling made from fermented corn, maize and ugali. It has a sour taste that tingles at the back of your mouth as you take the first bite. It is best enjoyed with your hands and usually eaten with blended pepper like shito, a delicious peppery sauce made from scotch bonnet, stock fish and onions. It can also be eaten with soups and stews and is usually served with fish.
Below is my recipe for this amazing dish. Although some do make Kenkey at home, like my Grandmother and mother would, I did however, purchase mine from a local Ghanaian store, freshly made. The pepper and Mackerel were made by me, so yes, let’s get started…
Kenkey: Cook in warm water for 10 minutes or simply warm in the microwave for 3 minutes, just follow packaging instructions.
Ask your fishmonger to clean the fish for you and rinse well then pat dry prior to cooking.
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Soy sauce
Alternatively us 1 Tablespoon Maggie cube or simply sprinkle salt for taste.
1 Tablespoon fish Sauce
Splash of shiaoxing rice wine (optional)
1 Tsp Lime juice
2 cloves of Garlic chopped
Chilli flakes or 1 sliced scotch bonnet.
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Chopped parsley.
Make 3 incisions in both mackerels this will allow the marinade to seep into the fish. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix well and drizzle it over the fish, feel free to rub it in. Set it aside and leave it to marinate for 10 – 15 minutes if you like, overnight. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil and place the fish in the tray and bake for 15 minutes at 180 degrees turning halfway through to cook both sides. Fish is very delicate and doesn’t take long to cook so look out for golden skin as this should indicate that your fish is or already cooked.
The Pepper Sauce
The pepper sauce is very simple. I wanted to play on this a little by adding a little sweetness. This complements the sourness of the Kenkey and Saltiness of the fish.
2 tablespoon veg oil
4 scotch bonnets (adjust to heat preference or simply remove the seeds)
1 bell pepper
1 Tablespoon Tomato paste (optional)
1/2 a medium onion
1 Teaspoon ginger powder
1 tsp brown sugar
Blend onion pepper, tomatoes in food processor for 30 seconds until it forms a smooth paste sprinkle with salt before blending.
Once it’s blended set aside.
*Note: if you’re using freshly chopped ginger fry it in the oil before adding the pepper mixture this would give a nice infusion.
In a pan add the vegetable oil and once it’s hot add the pepper mixture and cook for 5 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add the Tomato paste stir, then sprinkle Maggie or extra salt if needed and 1 shrimp Bouillon cube, ginger, sugar and lime stir and fry for 2 more minutes.
Once it’s done set aside.
Check to see if your fish is done. Once it is take it out leave it to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Unwrap your Kenkey and slice into pieces and serve with your fish and pepper.
Sometimes I like to eat the Kenkey with tinned mackerel in sunflower oil and blended pepper, onions and tomatoes no cooking this however, is a lot fiery than when it’s been cooked down so just a little warning.
I do hope you give this recipe a try xoxo