No MSG cooking; How to make pastes for flavourful Nigerian food.

Cross Section of pastes Mirepoix Paste, Yellow Paste, Green Paste.

Let me share with you how to make three of the pastes I find useful in my cooking

I try to stay away as much as possible from controversial conversations about cooking with MSG. There are tons of research work for and against cooking with MSG and I’m no apostle for either side. However I made a conscious decision to eliminate MSG seasonings from my meals as much as I can. I oscillate between cooking and not cooking with MSG seasonings, in the last four months I’ve successfully cooked all my meals without MSG. I’ve used herbs, spices, seeds, roots, vegetables, dried seafood, salt to achieve tasty meals.

A section of some of the spices I use in the kitchen. This makes for a quarter of my spice portfolio.

Asides my Fluke Spice which I’ve blogged about, I also have found a couple of pastes which I learnt about online to be very helpful for making flavourful meals. And all the ingredients are readily available in local markets.

Labake’s Fluke Spice is made from a blend of Mustard seeds. Cinnamon, Coriander seeds, Fennel seeds, Black pepper, Dried mint, Green Cardamom seeds

“I like cooking with spices, herbs, roots… because

Layering flavours is almost a lost art because of the quick fix appeal of seasoning cubes.

There’s an abundance of nutrients and health benefits to be derived from them

I try to be deliberate about what I put in my body. There is already an over exposure to chemicals we encounter on a daily basis, so if I can at least reduce one exposure I try to cut out what is processed.

MSG is naturally occuring in many foods and I can enjoy it in its natural occurring form instead.”

FLUKE SPICE

Mirepoix Paste (Leeks/Celery/Carrot Paste)

This paste I adopted from using what the French call the holy trinity of stock making. It comprises of Onions, Celery and Carrots. Onions can be swapped for Leeks which is what I prefer and use instead.

I find this very usefully for marinating and boiling meats, preparing a rich stock base, cooking stew, cooking jollof and fried rice…etc.

Ingredients

  • Leeks (Onions can be used instead)
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Vegetable Oil
* Onions (or Leeks), Carrot and Celery should be equal proportions. Vegetable oil helps blend the vegetable to a smooth puree so you don’t need water and it helps it keep longer as well as prevents oxidation

Procedure

  • Blend equal proportions of Onions (or Leeks), Carrots, Celery with vegetable oil in a blender to a smooth puree.
  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate

Yellow Paste (Yellow Pepper/Ginger/Garlic Paste)

I can’t quite remember where I first saw this. But it packs a punch from the hot of the Yellow Nsukka pepper (yellow rodo, yellow scotch bonnet) and ginger. I use this to cook meats, stew, pottage, soups, as stock for both regular soups and a few native soups.

Ingredients

  • Yellow Nsukka Pepper (sometimes called fresh cameroon pepper, yellow scotch bonnet, yellow rodo, yellow pepper)
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Vegetable oil
*Pepper, Ginger, Garlic in equal proportions. Vegetable oil helps blend the vegetable to a smooth puree so you don’t need water and it helps it keep longer as well as prevents oxidation

Procedure

  • Peel ginger, garlic, remove pepper stalks.
  • Blend with oil in a blender until pureed
  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate

Green Paste

This recipe I found on LagosHouseWife’s YouTube page. I mostly use this for stock base for native soups and sauces. Combining this with crayfish powder, stock fish, dried fish, iru or ogiri (depending on the dish), the result is usually beautiful.

Ingredients

  • Green bell pepper
  • Yellow pepper (Nsukka pepper, yellow scotch bonnet)
  • Spring onion
  • Efinrin ( nchanwu, daidoya, African blue basil)
  • Vegetable oil
The volumes for the vegetables are mostly eye balled , however i recommend you use half the volume of green peppers for efinrin, and less for the yellow peppers. *Vegetable oil helps blend the vegetable to a smooth puree so you don’t need water and it helps it keep longer as well as prevents oxidation

Procedure

  • Deseed the green bell peppers, pick efinrin leaves, remove roots from spring onions and stalks from yellow pepper
  • In a blender add oil and blend all the vegetables to a smooth puree.
  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate

These pastes are really easy to make and very effective for cooking tasty meals. The list of pastes you can create and adapt to your cooking are endless. I hope you give these a try

Author: Omolabake for #OunjeAladun

Food should be an experience, one to be savored, explored, experimented with, played with and expressed. I hope I can take you on different parts of my journeys with food through Ounje Aladun. I'm Omolabake Bode-Matthew, a Foodie, Gardener, Entrepreneur ( I run a healthy beverage options company Fontaine De Vie), Mum, Wife, Lawyer by certificates lol, pretend art enthusiast, lover of good music, can't sing, can't dance... And I welcome you to my blog.

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