Yassa is a spicy chicken dish from Senegal, made with onions, spices and seasoning. In spite of the large quantity of onion, it doesn’t taste oniony at all. More complex versions of this recipe exist, adding different spices, vinegar or other ingredients. I deliberately kept mine as simple a possible.
I went a bit over-the top quantity-wise with this, making enough to feed a family of six. For just one or two people, divide the quantities below by three.
Ingredients (serves six)
- 6 breast fillets (or equivalent amount of meat).
- Three onions, red or green, finely chopped or sliced.
- Juice of three lemons.
- 1 cup (½-a-mug) of ground-nut (peanut) or olive oil.
- 1 well-heaped desert spoon of Dijon mustard.
- 1 heaped teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
- 1 Habanero chili, seeds removed, finely chopped (optional) – or some suitable alternative like powdered or bottled hot chili.
- Soy sauce (optional).
WEAR DISPOSABLE GLOVES when de-seeding and fine-chopping the Habanero chili. It is very hot, and might make your fingers sting. Absolutely do not put your fingers anywhere near your eyes, in your ear, up your nose or anywhere else tender while chopping. You’ll soon regret it. Wondering just how hot these raw chilies were, I cut one in half and licked the end. It was like licking the end of a cattle-prod. The finished dish is not particularly hot, just has that extra tang. but if you’re really not a fan of chili, leave it out, and add soy sauce for some extra flavour instead.
Chop the chicken into small chunks or thin slices and put this in a large mixing bowl. To the bowl add the onion, lemon juice, oil, mustard, cayenne pepper and chili, and stir everything together. I also added a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, although this is not strictly necessary and depends on personal taste.
This needs to marinate for half-a-day, so best to do the preparation in the evening and leave it in the fridge overnight, ready to cook the next day.
The customary way to cook this is to fry it on a hot plate – a hot frying pan will do just as well – until the onion is well softened and caramelised and the chicken just starting to brown.
Serve immediately with mashed potato, some yam or sweet potato mash, rice, or anything really. I microwaved a can of red kidney beans (rinse the goo off them first and put in a ceramic dish to microwave) which went very well. It would also go well with the flatbreads from my previous post.
Can be kept in the fridge or even frozen, I suppose, but this is a food best served freshly cooked. Everything considered, come out at about £1.50 a meal.