(Nigerian savory steamed bean pudding)
You never knew black-eyed peas could taste this good! Variously known as moin moin, moyi-moyi, moi moi or olele, this savory steamed bean pudding is a Nigerian favorite, often served with fried plantains and rice.
The key to making great moin moin is first removing the skins from the raw, soaked beans. This step ensures a smooth final product. Basic moin moin can be further enhanced with the addition of any number of ingredients, including dried crawfish, corned beef, fish, hard-boiled eggs, even apples. The fanciest moin moin has seven items added and is called moin moin elemi meje, or "moin moin with seven lives."
The flavored bean puree is traditionally wrapped in ewe eran or banana leaf molds for steaming, but cake pans, foil trays or even empty food cans work just fine.
4 to 6 servings
- Black-eyed peas -- 2 cups
- Onion, chopped -- 1
- Red chile peppers, chopped -- 2 or 3
- Salt -- 1 teaspoon
- Palm or vegetable oil -- 2 tablespoons
- Warm water -- about 1/2 cup
- Soak the black-eyed peas in water overnight. Drain and rinse, and then place the beans in a large bowl and add water to cover them by about two inches. Rub the beans between your palms to dislodge their outer skins. The skins should mostly float to the top of the water. Remove and discard as many of the floating bean skins as you can.
- Drain the beans again, and then add them to a blender or food processor, along with the chopped onion and peppers, salt, oil and about 1/2 cup of water. Process until very smooth. You may have to puree the beans in batches.
- Remove the pureed beans to a bowl and stir in more water if needed to form a pourable mix with the consistency of thick pancake batter. Adjust seasoning as desired.
- Oil a 9-inch cake pan or other mold and pour in batter to fill it three-quarters full. Carefully set the pan on a rack in a large, covered pot partially filled with water. Bring the water to a boil over high flame. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot tightly and steam until the moin moin is set up and cooked through, about 1 hour. Add water to the pot as needed to make sure it doesn't dry out.
- Remove the pan from the steamer and run a sharp knive around the edge of the moin moin. Flip the pan over onto a serving platter and shake lightly to drop the bean pudding onto the platter. Serve immediately with fried plantains and rice or bread.
Moin Moin Variations
- Beans: You can substitute Nigerian brown beans (oloyin) for the black-eyed peas if you like.
- Peppers: Nigerians will generally use a mix of mild red peppers (known as tatashe peppers in Nigeria) and spicy chile peppers. For the chile peppers, Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers are best. The peppers give the moin moin a pleasant reddish-orange hue.
- Liquid options: Water is the most common liquid used to thin out the pureed bean powder, but using chicken or fish stock, tomato sauce, beaten egg and even milk can add pleasant flavor, color and texture.
- Other possible additions: Dress up your moin moin for special occasions. A common addition is wedges of hard-boiled egg placed on top of the moin moin before steaming. Or try stirring one or more of the following into the batter before you steam it: a couple spoonsful of ground dried crayfish or shrimp; a can of sardines, flaked; cubes of corned beef; a handful of whole raw shrimp. Many Nigerian cooks insist that a good grating of nutmeg into the batter is essential.
- Steaming containers: Moin moin is traditionally poured into hand-formed, triangular-shaped containers made out of banana or ewe eran leaves. But aluminum foil packages or pans, cake pans, leftover food cans and sardine tins work great. Use whatever you have on hand that will fit in your steaming pot and not fall into the water.
- Baking instead of steaming: Most Nigerians agree that steaming produces the best, most tender moin moin, but you can bake it in a pinch. It's faster and easier to do when you're making a big batch. Use a 350°F oven and make sure to cover your container tightly with aluminum foil to keep it from drying out. You should also add a baking tray with a few inches of hot water to the bottom of your oven. This will keep your oven humidified, also helping to keep your moin moin from turning too dense and dry. Baking time will vary depending on the size and shape of your steaming container, but your moin moin will be done when the beans are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out fairly clean.