Friday, May 23, 2008

Bâton de Manioc (Cassava Sticks)

Bâton de Manioc, also known as Bobolo, Chicouangue, Chickwangue, Chikwangue, Kwanga, Mboung, Mintumba, Miondo, and Placali represents a fufu-like preparation of cassava (actually cassava sticks) Manihot esculenta (also known as manioc, yuca, yucca), traditionally prepared in the leaves of Megaphrynium macrostachyum (ngungu, mikungu, marantacee) represent a forest plant whose leaves are used mostly to wrap cassava stick (bâton de manioc); a minimum of two leaves are necessary to wrap one cassava stick. The increasing demand for this low-cost food means that there is a high consumption of leaves. The leaves of this species and other Marantaceae are said to give a special taste to some food and is the reason why they are preferred to bananas leaves (Musa spp.).

Cassava itself contain a poisonous cyanide compound. The sweet varieties are thought to contain less of the poison than the bitter. Baton de Manioc is usually made from the tubers of the bitter manioc, but they are carefully soaked and cooked to remove the poison. Sweet cassava tubers tend to be prepared as potatoes are prepared in Europe and America: baked, boiled, dried, fried, roasted, stewed, etc.

  • Several kilos of bitter cassava tubers
  • leaves of Megaphrynium macrostachyum, or banana leaves
  • Soak the whole tubers in a tub, pond or stream for at least three days. At the end of this time peel the tubers and wash them in a large tub, changing the water several times.
  • Using a large pestle and mortar pound the tubers into a thick, smooth, paste. Put this paste into the leaves using two leaves per packet. Fold these lengthways into packets and tie closed (typically these packets are either 4cm in diameter and 30cm long or 10cm in diameter and 30cm long).
  • Place sticks or an upturned wire basket in the bottom of a large pot. Stack the packets on the bottom of the pot then add water (the water level should be beneath the packets). Cover tightly and steam for about 6 hours.
  • The finished bâton de manioc should be very thick and solid, approximating the consistency of modelling clay. It is typically either served warm or at room temperature. Cooked bâton de manioc will keep for several days as long as not removed from its leaf wrapper. (Discard the leaves and do not eat).

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