Monday, June 20, 2011

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mwambe Beef

Still rather rattled from my Comoronian cooking experience, I was glad to see that the Democratic Republic of the Congo's national dish, mwambe beef, was simple and straightforward. The dish has simple ingredients: lemon juice, salt, beef, onions, tomatoes and habanero. The only difficult thing to find is the palm oil, which I procured at Christy's African Market in Burnsville. I was surprised to find that it is of a Crisco-like consistency, as I was picturing oil. However, as soon as it hits a heated pan, it melts immediately and turns to oil. The flavor of this red orange oil permeated the meat and gave it a subtle paprika-like flavor. I think it made all the difference in distinguishing this dish from other African dishes I have made, and also in distinguishing it from a simple beef in tomato sauce recipe. I enjoyed this dish, although if I made it again, I would either not seed the habanero or use more than one, as I thought it lacked some heat.

I found this recipe online. It is apparently from an old African cookbook.

Mwambe Beef

-3 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1" cubes
-1 T. lemon juice
-1/2 tsp. salt
-2 T. palm oil
-1 medium onion, chopped
-4 tomatoes, chopped
-1-4 habanero peppers

1) Toss beef cubes with lemon and salt. Let rest 30 minutes. Discard juice.
2) Heat oil on medium high until very hot. Add beef and brown.
3) Add onions; sauté 5 minutes. Mix in the tomatoes and pepper(s).

4) Let simmer 1 1/2 hours.
5) Serve over rice.

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