There are times when you have been so busy with little time to go shopping for food and the mouths you feed always need to be fed regardless of your schedule or what you are going through. Yassa is one stew that I think can solve a quick problem when you do not have much at home; that is if is if you have some Onion bulbs at home.
Yassa is a stew of Senegalese origin prepared using marinated onions with lemon or lime prominently featuring in the marinade. When prepared with chicken, it is called Poulet Yassa, and Poisson Yassa when it is fish-based.
Most of the Yassa recipes I have seen have some common ingredients: onions (about 4-6 bulbs depending on the amount of serving required), lemon juice (1 large lemon), olive oil, scotch bonnet or hot chilli pepper, chicken or fish, salt and pepper. Optional ingredients include Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, spring onions, garlic and olives.
The method includes marinating your chicken or fish with all the ingredients except the oil. The marinated chicken or fish should be removed from the mix. Many recipes encourage marinating for a few hours and refrigerating. I marinated some shredded chicken for just 30 minutes and it was fine. In place of chicken or fish, shrimps, beef, snail and other protein might also work well with this. If you normally boil your beef and store in the freezer, it is fine also. Dried shrimps would definitely change the taste drastically but if you have a fish vendor around your area, you can get some smoked fish or just buy fresh and do a quick grill of the fish if you want extra flavour. I used chicken because that was what I had at home.
I did a stir fry with the chicken since it was shredded and I needed to make a quick meal. After removing them when they were slightly done, I removed the marinated chopped onions and spring onions from the mix and sautéed it also until they started wilting. I also added a little garlic for extra flavour and for its phytochemicals. I added the rest of the marinade in the mixing bowl and returned the chicken into the sauce pan for it to all cook together. I actually added about half a cup of water because I wanted it to have more sauce in it.
It was done in a short time and I had a stew for rice that I could serve to my family.
If you are trying to cut back on your salt intake, check your mustard sauce and eliminate it if possible because of the high sodium content. The same goes for the olives that have been marinated in salt when you buy them.
I think I tried to make the sauce well. It was tasty and the chicken was super delicious but I feel that I could have handled the onions better. In retrospect, I could have increased the cooking time to allow the onions to get softer; I was just worried about some of the medicinal properties of the onions and garlic getting destroyed by continuous heating. Some studies corroborate that excessive high temperatures can lead to loss of potency of some of these medicinal properties. Also, Olives are a No No for me in the future; I will stick to the oil.
All in all, it was not hard to prepare and can be made by anybody. So, you can improvise and still serve a delicious as well as healthy meal at home when you do not have much at home.