Letting Life Lead
I promised a while back that I would share the recipe for munchupa the national dish of Cabo Verde (I always say mun-CHOOP — but language is funny like that). Alas, I do not have a recipe exactly, but I do have pictures from 2008. This is a flavor profile and not a recipe. If you need a recipe try this one.
Everyone makes their dish different and families have their own recipes. For example, my grandmother never uses cabbage or tomato or chicken or fish, but many people do ( here and here) to make cachupa rica.
I don’t make this often because I only know to make a ton of it and it is only me eating it (husband has texture issues). However, now that I have two children and it won’t be just me, I might venture at some point to make a pot of it again…IF I can find samp. I think I have to drive across town now to get it.
My favorite flavors in a munchupa is by far the samp, batata, and manioc/casava/yuca. There are no exact measurements but I will explain as much as I can.
Samp: I am using a dried, cracked hominy called samp. The brand I usually get is Goya. It is a starchy corn that is rich and hearty, and is unlike sweet corn. You can use white or yellow, but regular corn is not the same thing. You might get away with substituting canned hominy though the ones in a can are whole not cracked so the stew will have a slightly different texture. Wash the samp and soak it overnight. It will cook faster. Don’t skimp on the water. Samp absorbs a lot of liquid so be generous.
DO NOT BURN THE SAMP.
Look, it’s kind of a rite of passage when you make this that you are probably going to burn it. Try not to. Burned starch stinks and you will spend three months stubbornly trying to scrape it off the bottom of your favorite pot.
Just don’t burn it. You will have to keep adding liquid so check on it.
Batata: My grandmother always called this a “Puerto Rican Potato” so when I first ventured to make this dish, I didn’t know what to buy! I am now 90% sure the potato she uses is a batata — a type of mild sweet potato. It’s drier with a pleasant sweet flavor. It’s firm. I love the texture and the surprise flavor in the bowl. I remember deciding to make this dish in 2008 after I had happened to walk by the gourmet section and saw a batata!
Sweet potato: I am guessing that the original official version probably has actual yam. True yams are not easily come by in the market. I use orange sweet potato because I like the color and flavor.
manioc/cassava/yuca: Another distinctively flavored root which I loved finding in my bowl because it is so different than anything else. To me it always sounded like my grandmother was saying MUND-yock, so when I first made my own munchupa I was confused. Thank goodness for the internet! The peel is very waxy so it needs to be removed. In the center is also a hard thin “core” in the center. Remove it before or after cooking. I chunked mine so I removed it before. I also cooked it in a pot by itself first before I put it into my main pot because I wasn’t confident that I got all the peel off. DO NOT EAT THE PEEL. It is toxic. Also, do not eat this root raw, just like rhubarb it must be cooked before consumption. How to peel here, here and how I peel it (like a pineapple) here.
Beef neck bones: Not shown. Provides a lot of flavor.
kidney beans and lima beans: It is up to you what you put in your munchupa as far as beans.
butternut squash: I don’t peel it when I make this because they are hard to peel and the skin is so thin anyway. I slice it into half moon shapes and throw it in there.
kale: I like to put my in early because I think it tastes best when it is very well cook without that distinctive kale “green” flavor.
garlic: I only put this in because I didn’t have chourico.
Yep. My pot proved inadequate. I think I needed a cauldron. If I recall correctly, I split my soup into two pots and added the rest of the ingredients.
Add liquid as needed. Salt pepper to taste.
Do. Not. Burn. The. Samp.
If you are the adventurous type and try this let me know how it turned out. If I can find the ingredients I want in the near future, I will try to document it better.
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