Senegalese Sweet Potato Fritters

I am so happy to be guest hosting November’s Around the World event, with the theme of Senegal.  This is the brainchild of Reshmi.

I was first introduced to Senegalese cuisine when I visited a restaurant here in New York, called Le Grand Dakar.  See my restaurant review here.  Senegal is a country located on the northwest coast of Africa with a unique cuisine.  Colonized by the French until 1960, there is much French influence as well as Vietnamese (who were also colonized by the French) on the cuisine.  As subjects of the French, many Senegalese went to Vietnam to fight Indochina’s quest for independence.  Many Senegalese men came back with Vietnamese wives.  It’s not uncommon to find noodle dishes and Vietnamese spring rolls in Senegal.

Senegal is a primarily Muslim country, so pork is virtually non existent in the cuisine.  Due to its coastal location, fish and seafood are the main protein sources, with root vegetables like cassava (yuca), plantain and sweet potatoes as well as legumes like black eyed peas and chick peas.  Couscous, millet and rice are the primary grains eaten.  Common vegetables are okra and cabbage.  Ginger and mango are dominant in beverages and desserts, as well as coconut.  Peanuts are also prevalent in everything from soup to desserts. Peanut soup is common throughout all of West Africa.  This is one of the main exports the slaves brought to the New World. (see my recipe here).

Since this is not one of the most popular cuisines in terms of food blogs, etc. I am giving you as much information as possible in order for you to be able to create some delicious Senegalese inspired dishes.  Tankora is a popular spice mix that you can use with the foods I mentioned above.
Tankora Ingredients:
1 cup roasted peanuts, ground
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper

The primary method of cooking is stewing.  Chicken Yassa is the national dish, served in a flavorful onion and lemon sauce. (maybe vegetarians can try adapting this yummy sauce but using veggies)

I am lucky to own the cookbook written by the Le Grand Dakar chef, Yolele!  For those of you who don’t have access to this book and want to experiment with this cuisine, here are a few resources:
Senegalese recipes & Some More
A Few More
Yet Some More

I hope to see many of you experimenting with the diverse flavors of Senegal!!!

Rules for the Event:

  • Prepare any Senegalese recipe on your blog and link it, using the linky tool below. Linky Tool will be open until November 30th, 2012.
  • Non-Bloggers can email their recipes with photos to islandpalate (at) gmail (dot) com
  • Please link back your recipes to this event announcement and to Reshmi’s event page. Usage of the logo is mandatory.
  • Archived posts are accepted as long as they are reposted with linkbacks.
  • Both vegetarian and non-veg recipes are welcome.
  • You can link as many recipes as you like.

Here is one of the Vietnamese Senegalese dishes which I sampled when I ate at Le Grand Dakar.  This recipe has been adapted from one found in Yolele!, the cookbook mentioned above.

Sweet Potato Fritters

(click here for printable recipe)
1 large orange fleshed sweet potato (known in America as yams), grated (about 15 oz.)
1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
Peanut oil, for frying

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Using about 2 tablespoons for each fritter, shape into patties.
Heat about 2 inches of oil to 350 F, for shallow frying. Gently place patties in hot oil and fry until golden and crispy on both sides, about 4 minutes on each side.  I used a 1/3 cup size measuring cup and placed batter into hot oil and then with the back of the spatula pressed down a little to flatten.  Alternately, you can freehand form into patties and then place in the hot oil.

Drain on paper towels.

Serve with Vietnamese Nuoc Cham Sauce, an all purpose Vietnamese condiment usually served with spring and summer rolls.

These are a great marriage of textures and flavors – soft sweet potatoes with the intense flavor of fish sauce and the fresh shrimp.  Soft on the inside and crispy on the outside – if you love shrimp and sweet potatoes but never thought they would go good together, try these and you won’t be disappointed!

Nuoc Cham Sauce

(click here for printable recipe)
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons water
2 chiles, finely chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped

Whisk ingredients together.

Chef Mireille
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