Eat West African Moi-Moi at La Cocina's Street Food Festival This Weekend
Chiefo's Kitchen will debut moi-moi at San Francisco Street Food Festival on Sat. Aug., 18. Chiefo Chukwudebe, who grew up in Nigeria and got started in the local restaurant scene through La Cocina two years ago, says that you can guarantee a discussion if you bring up moi-moi in Nigeria. Everyone loves the traditional black eyed pea pudding, everyone serves it at any sort of event, and everyone thinks his or her recipe is the best. Chiefo started cooking when she was six years old, and since the West African cuisine she serves at Chiefo's Kitchen is a rarity in San Francisco, we're going to have to trust her when she says she knows what she's doing.
Chiefo steams and purees black eyed peas to make a savory cake with a consistency that is chewy, but not spongy, and seasoned with tomatoes, onions, peppers and a hint of crayfish. The cake is then topped with a Nigerian tomato stew, crispy onions, crisped corned beef, and fried fish. The crunch of lightly fried toppings gives an interesting contrast in texture and the flavors are all fresh and different. "Really what I want is for people to try it," she says, "Because I just know they're going to like it."
She will also be serving a spicy Suya beef skewer, which was a big hit at the 2010 festival. Suya is a spicy peanut pepper rub from Nigeria that is traditionally served on beef skewers, but Chiefo will put on just about anything. We purchased a packet of the spice at the La Cocina Kiosk in the Ferry Building and have been putting it on everything -- roasted potatoes, grilled fish, and even scrambled eggs. Chiefo also does a cooking demonstration at the kiosk every Thursday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and will be handing out coupons that can be redeemed at the Street Food Festival for a free packet of Chin-Chin, sweet, deep-fried vanilla nutmeg nuggets that are typical in Nigeria. You can also try her prepared food at the hot bar at the Noe Valley Whole Foods.