Moin Moin (Steamed Bean Cakes)
Prepared by rehydrating dried beans, then peeling and grinding them into a paste and finally steaming it in leaves, these fluffy bean cakes can be quite the project. In Lagos, where this is a common Nigerian dish served at celebrations and on weekend mornings, community grinding machines can be heard on Fridays, working away large basins of beans in preparation for whatever festivities the weekend may bring. Banana leaves, which impart a slight grassy flavor, are used in this recipe, but ọlẹ (pronounced oh-LEH), a type of water lily leaf, is most common in Lagos. Moin moin is typically flavored with powdered, dried crayfish and can be stuffed with meat, fish, boiled eggs or, in some cases, all three. This vegan take includes the option to stuff the cakes with roasted mushrooms in ata din din, a delicious addition. Serve hot, alongside dishes like jollof rice, efo riro and dodo for the ultimate party plate, or enjoy alone, slightly unwrapped right on the banana leaf.
- Serves: 12 persons
- 2cups whole dried honey beans or store-bought peeled black-eyed peas (see Tip)
- 1pound frozen banana leaves, defrosted, for steaming
- 2roasted red bell peppers from a jar, drained, stemmed and seeded
- 1small red onion, peeled and quartered
- 1red scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed
- 1tablespoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
- ½teaspoon garlic powder
- ½teaspoon onion powder
- ½cup grapeseed oil
- 1cup roasted mushrooms with ata din din, for filling (optional)
Step 1Place the beans in a medium bowl and cover with up to 2 inches of room temperature water. Soak the beans for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until plump and the peel comes right off when you rub a bean between your palms.
Step 2Meanwhile, cut the banana leaves into 11- to 13-inch squares (depending on the width of your leaves). Save any trimmings to line the pot. Wipe the leaves clean with a damp towel. Place a stockpot or 10-inch Dutch oven on the stove and line the entire bottom with up to two layers of banana leaf trimmings. (It’s OK if some of the leaves come up the sides slightly.) Pour 2 cups water in the bottom of the pot, underneath the leaf layer.
Step 3Peel all the beans: Skip this step if you are using peeled black-eyed peas, but discard the soaking liquid. Fill the bowl with more water, grab a handful of beans and, working in the water, rub the beans between your palms. The peels will come right off and float above the beans. (The extra water will help provide an area for the skins to collect away from the beans.) Holding back the beans with one hand, pour the water and the peels into a colander set inside the kitchen sink. Discard the peels. Again fill the bowl with water to cover by several inches, peel and drain. Repeat this step up to 4 more times until about 95 percent of the beans are peeled.
Step 4Working in batches if necessary and using some of all the ingredients in each batch, transfer the peeled beans, roasted red peppers, onion and scotch bonnet to a blender and purée with 1 3/4 cups water until smooth. The purée should be the consistency similar to a loose, whipped hummus. Transfer to a bowl and add the salt, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix in the oil.
Step 5To shape the banana leaves for filling, working one square at a time, make a cone by lifting the bottom left corner towards the center, creating a straight vertical line that should line up with the center of the leaf. With your finger holding the center in place, hold up the leaf and use your other hand to fold the bottom right corner of the leaf over the left fold. You should now have a cone shape with a closed, pointy bottom and an open top. Tighten the cone by pulling the right edge over until the bottom is closed. Fold about 1 1/2 inches of the pointy bottom back and upward, sealing the bottom of the cone completely. Line any tears on the inside of the cone with little pieces of leaf trimming. Hold the cone in an upright position with your finger on the folded bottom to keep the bottom edge sealed.
Step 6Fill the cone by scooping in 1/2 cup of the bean purée. Add a heaped tablespoon of the roasted mushroom mix on top, if using. Place the filled cone upright in the prepared stockpot, sealed side down, leaving the tops open and leaning the cones up against the edge of the pot and one another to keep them sealed. Repeat this folding and filling step until all the purée is used up and the filled cones are all upright in the pot. If there is too much room in the pot, use the scrap pieces of banana leaves to fill the extra space and to keep the cones upright and sealed. Cover the top of the pot with several leaves (no need to trim them if there’s overhang) to keep the steam within the pot and place the lid on top.
Step 7Set the heat to medium and steam the moin moin until firm, about 25 to 30 minutes. You can test for doneness by taking one out, unwrapping and cutting through the middle. There should be no loose, raw batter, and the moin moin should be set firm. Allow the moin moin to sit in the covered pot for 15 minutes off heat to set up a bit more and to cool slightly. Transfer the wrapped cones to a baking sheet or serving platter. Unwrap and serve warm, by itself or alongside jollof rice, efo riro and dodo.