Bean Stew with Fried Ripe Plantains


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    10 to 12


Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

Any visitor to Ghana will likely be introduced to a recipe popular with foreigners: “Red-Red,” the name of a stew served with ripe plantains. The “red” refers to the palm oil used to prepare the stew. Tomatoes and tomato paste further enhance its color. Red-Red is commonly made with black-eyed peas or other cowpeas.

This meal needs advance planning so nicely ripened but still firm plantains are available. Allow at least 1 large or 2 small ripe plantains per person.


  • 2 cups uncooked dried black-eyed peas; or 6 cups cooked, canned, or frozen
  • ½ cup red palm oil (dzomi, if available) or other vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • ½ teaspoon dried ground red pepper and/or a little minced fresh chili pepper (part of a seeded jalapeno for mild, a green cayenne for hot, and half a seeded green or red habanero for very hot)
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or to taste)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried shrimp powder (or to taste)
  • 2 cups pureed fresh (peeled and seeded) or canned tomatoes (do not use canned tomato puree)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
  • ½ to 1 pound smoked fish, depending on whether or not they are boned (e.g., whiting, mackerel, haddock, tuna, salmon, whitefish, but avoid herring), skinned and boned
  • 1 large or 2 small ripe plantains per person
  • Vegetable oil for frying the plantains
  • ½ cup dry gari (optional)



Prepare dried peas (if using)

  1. Rinse and pick over the black-eyed peas, removing any stones or discolored ones, then soak the peas in a pot in water for several hours or overnight. Drain and put fresh water in, bring to a boil, cover, and cook until tender, about an hour or so. Drain.

Prepare the stew

  1. Heat the palm oil in a frying pan, add the onion and sauté for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add ground red pepper and/or fresh chili pepper, ginger, garlic, and shrimp powder, and fry a few more minutes on medium heat.
  3. Add the pureed tomatoes and fry together for a few minutes. Add tomato paste, if using.
  4. Break fish into pieces and add to the stew. Add the drained cooked beans and simmer 10 minutes, breaking the fish up as the stew cooks. Add a little more water if the stew cooks down too much. Check seasonings (especially the salt and pepper) and adjust to taste.
  5. Let simmer or remove from heat while preparing the plantains.

Cook the plantains

  1. Peel the ripe plantains and remove any stringy fibers on them. Cut them in half lengthwise, and then into several pieces cut on the diagonal. Put enough vegetable oil in the bottom of a large frying pan to cover it well (about ¼ to ½ inch deep). Heat on medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Place the plantain pieces into the pan without crowding them (cook in batches, if necessary), using a turner to turn them over when they are well-browned on one side. Remove them to drain on paper towels in a basket or on a platter.

To serve

Serve the stew with warm fried plantains on the side. Gari is often sprinkled on top of the bean stew as a condiment (similar to the way Parmesan cheese is sprinkled on Italian food) or on the side, moistened with hot water. Also, the stew may be served with a cooked vegetable (spinach, okra, cabbage, etc.) as a side dish.


  • Instead of frying the ripe plantains, boil them as for Ampesi, or roast them in a hot oven.
  • Simply cook the beans and then add some chopped onion, tomato, chili pepper, etc., into the same pot without frying anything. Boil, and add a few fresh or frozen okra that have been tailed or sliced.
  • For a low-salt version, either omit the smoked fish or substitute fresh fish.
  • Those who do not like spicy foods may substitute ½ cup of chopped bell pepper for the fresh chili pepper.