This dish of stewed beans (ewa riro) is delicious and filling. Make sure the beans are cooked until they are very tender and be generous with the palm oil, which lends the dish an earthy flavor and reddish color. Serve with fried ripe plantains (dodo) and rice.
1 large yellow or red onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained
1 (3 by 5-inch) strip kombu (dried seaweed; optional)
1 bay leaf
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup canned pureed tomatoes
1/2 to 1 Scotch bonnet chile pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup palm oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground grains of selim (see Note; optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 ripe plantains (yellow with plenty of black spots)
Safflower, grapeseed, or other neutral vegetable oil, for frying
Combine 1/2 cup of the onion with the black-eyed peas, kombu, and bay leaf in a stovetop or electric pressure cooker and add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to high pressure and cook for 20 minutes, then turn off and let the pressure release naturally. The black-eyed peas should be very soft. Open the pressure cooker and cook on medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, to reduce the liquid until it is thick and creamy, about 20 minutes.
While the black-eyed peas are cooking, combine 1 cup of the remaining onion with the bell pepper, tomato, and Scotch bonnet (using more or less depending on your appetite for heat) in a blender and puree until smooth.
Scoop the palm oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it melts and starts to shimmer, add the remaining 1/2 cup onion and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cayenne, grains of selim, if desired, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the pureed bell pepper mixture, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reduces, darkens, and loses its raw edge, about 20 minutes.
When the black-eyed peas are ready, add them to the sauce in the skillet with a little water if needed to loosen the mixture. Stir to combine and cook until the flavors meld, 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
To make the plantains, line a plate with paper towels. Peel the plantains by using a paring knife to slash a shallow cut down the length of each plantain, then remove the peel. Cut them in half lengthwise, then into 3/4-inch half-moons or cut on the bias into ¾-inch slices. Sprinkle the plantains with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Pour the oil to a depth of 1/2 inch into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the plantains (working in batches, if necessary, to avoid overcrowding) and fry until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, then use tongs to turn them over and cook until browned on the second side, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer them to a paper-towel-lined plate.
To serve, divide the beans among shallow bowls and tuck the plantains on one side. Serve hot, with rice.
To prepare the grains of selim, toast 8 pods in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and smoking, about 1 minute per side. Let cool briefly, then break apart by hand, discard the shiny seeds (which are bitter), and grind the pods in a dedicated spice grinder.
Excerpted from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press). Copyright © 2020. Photos by Aubrie Pick, food styling by Lillian Kang, courtesy Ten Speed Press.