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Dilution, Salt & Water

Welcome back,

This post has a delicious recipe attached at the end. But first, I want to address the importance of the Demi Glace video and what lessons you should draw from it, and use information from our Efo riro video as well to guide you into understanding how to create strong flavours.

Dilution in terms of food is simply when something has been watered down. Remember form the last written post when I was giving tips about how to get great flavours if not using stock cubes? well, here is another tip, call it tip number 3: control water, or water content.

Too much water and whatever you are cooking will taste quite bland, remember when we made our stocks; our brown and white stocks used excess water, but this was ok because, one, we let it reduce by half, and two, we only need it to introduce flavour and replace the need to use water. with water, our dish will be watered down, but with stock, it will be the addition of flavour that happens rather than watering down. But, take your mind now to our west african stock, remember we used only a small amount of water here. We did two things there, we controlled water because we knew too much water will water down and require us to double or more than double our seasonings if we wanted a strong flavour. Next thing was controlling water content, but how? by using just a small amount of water, we anticipated that the meat will release some water during cooking, so we didn't mind starting with a small amount. Imagine we started with more, the meat would have released their water and we would have had a slightly watered down stock, and it's times like this, some cooks are baffled and don't know why their stock or dish did not come out as strongly flavoured as they expected.

Here is another interesting way to understand water and water content: some of you may have heard someone say you have to boil tomatoes for long to get a great taste from it. Some Nigerians believe when making the Nigerian Tomato stew, you have to let the tomatoes boil for a long period of time. While this does create a good flavour, it is not necessarily the boiling of the tomatoes alone that is doing the trick, but the fact that tomato has a high water content, and so we are boiling off the water, that is, reducing it, thus being left only with the great taste that is the tomato. This is why professional kitchens concass tomatoes before cooking with them in some of their recipes, as this is a way of riding the tomato of excess water content.

Using this boiling off of water picture that you now have, apply it to your demi glace knowledge that you got from the video. A demi glace is strong in flavour because most of the liquid (water) has been boiled off and all that is left whatever seasoning, and salt that is there, all now concentrated. When water turns to steam and evaporates, it is gone, but the salt remains. Everyone knows this is true, I mean, look at how sea salt can be derived: get sea water, boil it till water evaporates and all that is left is the sea salt.

Salt; back again to this topic, a million and one things could be said about salt, so stick around as you will learn loads about how to use it. one quick thing about salt that should serve as tip number 4 to creating great flavours is that you don't necessarily need 'salt' to create great flavours, you can and SHOULD endeavour to use ingredients that add salt as well as flavour.

With that said, let's analyse some parts and ingredients of our efo riro video.

  1. We use red bell peppers to make Efo riro instead of tomatoes because it has way less water content than tomatoes and so will give a stronger flavour and it also has a sweet flavour. (issues tackled: dilution and water)

  2. Crayfish is a not just a great flavour, but a source of sodium, some of you who have cooked Nigerian dishes may notice if you add the same amount of salt you always add to a pot of soup but double the amount of crayfish, you may find the soup slightly salty. This is because of the sodium in the dried crayfish. Ingredients like crayfish; cured or fermented ingredients, add great flavour and salt to a dish, this is why there are some dishes that can get cooked without ever having to add salt, such as mackerel, get a whole mackerel fish, grill it without any salt or seasoning whatsoever and you will be shocked to find it still have a great taste, this is because unlike salmon that has 44mg of sodium per 100g, mackerel has 4,450mg per 100g. This also applies for the dried catfish fillets I used.

Why don't we stop there for now and enjoy a delicious recipe:

This recipe showcases the principles I have just mentioned above. The recipe uses canned sardines, which are high in sodium, and tomato puree; concentrated tomatoes without all that excess water.

SIDE NOTE: When next you want to make tomato stew, try using more puree and less actual tomatoes and see how rich your stew is. substitute 1 tomato for half a tbsp of puree.

This is a recipe my mother used to make almost every weekend, and we would eat it with fried or boiled plantains, yam or bread. At my home, when I make it for the mrs and the kids, they prefer it with boiled-fried dumplings, fried dumplings or oven baked buns. You, can have it with whatever you like, but I recommend yam or fried dumplings.



  • Half Medium white onion

  • 70g tomato puree

  • 1/2 tsp white pepper

  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 tsp dried basil

  • 1/2 tsp curry powder

  • 1/3 tsp ground allspice

  • pinch of sea salt

  • 2 tins of sardines in tomato sauce

  • spinach or kale


This is very simple and easy to make

- Fry the onions for about 20 -30 seconds, then add tomato puree

- Fry the puree and onions until it looks like it is going to burn, that is, it will darken a little, but DO NO LET IT BURN, or it will taste bitter. This is why we do not fry our onions for longer. Your onions will be your guide, if the onions start to burn, then your tomato puree is burning. Make sure to keep stirring.

- Add seasonings, stir and fry/cook for a minute, then add the sardines

- Let cook for 5 minutes, then add chopped spinach or kale.

All done. ENJOY.

Till next post. Happy cooking.

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