#119: Gabon – Poulet Nyembe

For this week’s recipe, I had the opportunity to try an ingredient that I’ve admittedly skipped a few times in favor of easier to find alternatives. That ingredient is palm oil and/or palm butter. It has appeared in many African recipes but for the most part, they always listed an alternative ingredient (in some cases peanut butter or regular oil). But for this simple stew/soup, I wanted to see what kind of flavor would be achieved by using the ingredients as intended. In my research, this dish is often shared in cookbooks along with Poulet Moambe, which was a dish I made in the first few months of this cooking project. That sauce seemed to rely heavily on tomatoes for color and flavor while this one leaned on the palm butter, with onions, tomatoes, okra, and a bit of cayenne pepper providing all other flavor.

I was only able to find palm butter on Amazon and it came in a big tin can. I didn’t try the flavor in advance, choosing to be completely surprised by it after putting nearly 2 cups of it in the stew. It looked a bit like curry paste, but didn’t have a strong aroma at first. But the more it cooked with the other ingredients, it started to make the kitchen smell…savory? Homey? It’s kind of hard to explain. Can savory be a flavor? Because that’s all Matt and I could really come up with to describe the dish. It was a unique flavor that perfectly dressed the vegetables. I served over rice.

Recipe I used: http://www.congocookbook.com/category-chicken-recipes/poulet-moambe-poulet-nyembwe/

Overall Level of Effort: 1

Skill Level: Beginner

Would Make it Again? Probably not, only because there are other African chicken stew dishes I’ve preferred over the course of this project.

Additional Notes: I’ve been conflicted with using substitutions in recipes over the course of this project. Some of those have been out of necessity (couldn’t find an ingredient) and others have been cost prohibitive (justifying spending $15 or more for an ingredient I only need a teaspoon of? No thank you. However, I’m glad I decided to go completely authentic with this dish and I froze some of the leftover paste to see if I’ll need it again.

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