It happens every time I go to the Asia Market. I can never restrict my purchases to those items on my pre-scribbled list. My eyes wander the shelves and I invariably leave laden with bags of beans, nuts, rice, lentils, tins of coconut milk, assorted Asian vegetables, various spices and who-knows-what-else, when all I really went in for was some ginger.
This time, I was hunting the shelves for cashew nuts, but something else entirely caught my eye…
Alongside assorted other packets of gluten-free material was a box of fufu flour. Well, what the fufu was that, my enquiring mind wanted to know. Reading the ingredients and instructions on the packet, I became somewhat more enlightened:
The fufu which one would make from the flour sounded like a kind of starchy African dumpling to be eaten with soups and stews. Not only that, but if you did your sums on the ingredient percentages, the mix of plantain, potato and cassava was going to add up to 110%, which clearly made it a dumpling mix to be reckoned with!
Suffice to say, however, that my first attempt at producing fufu fell somewhere short of the 110% mark. Never having heard of, let alone seen or eaten fufu before was, to put it mildly, somewhat of a disadvantage. Further research was required to establish that the flour – a powder like very fine semolina – should be added to warm water, then beaten with a wooden spoon for a few minutes over gentle heat until smooth and starting to come together like a soft dough. This is formed into dumplings and served with soup or stew. If you wanted to be traditional about it, you would make an indentation in the dumpling and use it to scoop up the liquid before finally eating the dumpling.
So now that I had managed to make fufu, what was it actually like? Well like a very smooth mashed potato but with a slightly bitter taste from the plantain. It was pleasant enough when I ate it along with some pumpkin soup but its basic taste signalled that it was not likely to become my new favourite starch. I somehow suspect that I will be looking for other ways to use the rest of this particular batch of fufu flour. That’s not to say that I have finished with fufu – I definitely think that a fufu flour mix where the main starch is something other than plantain would be worth a try. Of course, I’m also betting that fufu made from a flour mix is nothing like that made traditionally by pounding and mashing cassava, yams or plantains, though I’m not likely to come across that particular version around here, not even in the Asia Market.