Fufu is an essential food in most of West Africa, and it followed West African slaves when they came to the Caribbean. It can be made with any of the starchy ground provisions like plantains, cassava or malanga, but this recipe is a bit different - it calls for true yams.
The traditional method is to boil the yams, then pound them in a wooden mortar until they're smooth and sticky like dough. They can be served with stew or soup. It's customary to eat fufu with clean hands — this is a finger food in the truest sense of the term. Pull off a pinch of dough about the size of a quarter. Roll it into a ball in your hand, then make an indentation in the ball with your thumb. Scoop up the stew and enjoy.
Think of fufu as a version of an American dumpling. I've modernized this recipe by using a food processor, which cuts down on the amount of work involved.
- 2 pounds yams
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Fill a pot halfway with cold water.
- Peel the yams. Be careful with the knife or peeler — yams can be slippery.
- Cut the peeled yams into chunks. Place the chunks in the water in the pot.
- Bring the water and the yams to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil until the yams are soft, about 25 minutes.
- Remove the yams and reserve about a cup of the water. Allow the yams to cool.
- Place the cooled yams in a large bowl along with the salt, pepper and olive oil.
- Mash the ingredients using a potato masher. Don't worry if the mixture doesn't look like dough just yet.
- Place the fufu mixture in a food processor or blender. Pulse briefly to remove any lumps. Do not puree. Use a low speed/setting.
- Place the yam mixture back in the bowl and beat it with a wooden spoon until it becomes smooth. The mixture should become sticky and slightly elastic. It's OK to use your hands to get it to this point.
- Shape the fufu into balls of equal size. Serve with your favorite Caribbean soup or stew.
Tips and Serving Suggestions
- You can use butter or margarine instead of the olive oil in a pinch, but olive oil is best.
- Serve the fufu with traditional cow heel soup, cooked low and slow until the cow heel becomes tender and the gelatinous meat comes away from the bone.
- Combining fufu with tripe soup works well, too. This soup recipe is a testament to how all parts of a butchered animal are used in Caribbean cooking.