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African Fou Fou

As a neighbor from Kinshasa, Congo, taught to Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine, January 2011

active time: 30 min.
serves: as many as you want

corn flour

Fill medium pot on medium high heat half way with water. Sprinkle a little corn flour in so that the water turns opaque white but is still completely watery in texture. Stir constantly with a long handled wooden spoon (in place of the perfect fou fou stirring stick, the Nzete ya fou fou which she got at the Tropical Store on Washington Ave. in Roxbury, MA.) When the mixture heats up, it'll turn thick like cream. Boil vigorously, stirring constantly. The mixture will continue to thicken. Now, keep stirring around and around the edges, sprinkling more corn flour in every so often over the course of I'd say 15-20 minutes. The goal is to have a contained ball of dough start rolling around in the pan - albeit still jiggly and malleable. When you have a ball of fou fou in the pot, cut it in half with your stirring stick and then go around and sweep the two halves together into the ball. Do this a lot, like, a hundred times? The beating and the heat helps break down the starches so they're nice and digestible. Sprinkle some drops of water in a mixing bowl, scrape the fou fou in and move the bowl in a circular motion so the fou fou ball inside gets the nice smooth shape of the bowl. Flip it over to serve - in a bowl of thick soup, or as a bread-like accompaniment used it to scoop up thick saucy, meat or vegetable dishes.

If you can get your corn flour fou fou to work out, try other flours: rice, semolina, or cassava. Although she said I wouldn't be tough enough to stir the cassava as much as you need to. Semolina sounded pretty hard, too.