Monday, April 28, 2014

Basic Tomato Sauce

One of the things that has formed the basis of my cooking for many years is tomatoes. It is the Yoruba girl in me. Tomato represents obe (stew) that is a staple of Yoruba cuisine. I am constantly experimenting with the best way to capture the flavor of the tomato.

As I become more exposed to other foods outside of Yoruba cuisine, I have become more comfortable playing around with the concept of the stew. The normal base of a Yoruba tomato stew/sauce consists of tomato, onions and red peppers all blended together. I have become okay with making my stew with just tomatoes and onions.

The other thing that I really love in my tomato stew is smokiness. When I was growing up in Lagos, during Eid festivals we always had caterers come and cook for us. The caterers usually made the big pot of food in massive cast iron pans set on firewood in the backyard. The resulting food would absorb some of the smoke from the wood thereby creating a separate layer of flavor from the regular spices dumped into the pots. Now, when I sense smokiness in food, I think about the happy food memories of my childhood and the excitements of Eid festivals. Over the years, I have discovered ways to recreate that celebratory smokiness without setting fire to a single wood. In this recipe, I am using fire-roasted crushed canned tomatoes and paprika. The combination of both item gives this tomato sauce a very rich taste.

This tomato sauce is one that I would use if I am making sauce for Nigerian-style rice and stew. It is the multi-functional sauce/stew for Nigerian yam as well.It is very versatile and also addicting because it has a sweetness to it that is so captivating. Yes, I know I sound obnoxious but how else can I tell you how much I love this tomato sauce.

Canned tomatoes, 2 onions, jalapeno and spices for tomato sauce.
Getting ready to make the tomato sauce.

Basic Smoky Tomato Sauce

42 Oz Fire Roasted Crushed Canned Tomatoes
2 Medium Yellow Onions
4 Jalapeños
6 Large Cloves of Garlic
1 Tbsp Paprika
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil

1. Chop the onions finely as well as the garlic and jalapenos.

Chopped Onions and Jalapeños 

2. In a sauce pan, add in the olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic and jalapeños after minute. Stir onion mix gently as you sautéed on medium heat. You should keep sweating the onions for about 10 minutes. It should never develop brown shade if the onions are kept at the right temperature.

Chopped and Sauteed Onions, Garlic and Jalapenos
Sautéed Onions, Garlic and Jalapeños 

3. The onion start to look translucent and about to meld into a jam, pour in the canned tomatoes. Add in a cup of water, the paprika and salt to taste.

Onions, tomatoes, garlic and jalapenos simmering in a cast iron pan
Slowly Simmering Tomato Sauce

4. Simmer gently for about an hour until the sauce has reduced by at least a third. Make sure to stir occasionally and scrape down the sides of the pan to get all the concentrated tomato bits. The caramelization of the tomato on the side of the pan adds flavor to the sauce.

5. Tomato sauce is reduced, it is ready to eat.

*** I plan on putting up recipes featuring this tomato sauce next. Stay tuned for those.

No comments:

Post a Comment