Toasted Cornmeal One-Pot with Crab

Aprapransa

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    6

    servings

Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

This dish has several names. I first met it in the Eastern Region as its Twi name, Aprapransa. It is also called akpledzi (Ga or Ewe), apragyaa (Fante), or akplijii.

When my husband recalls his grandmother’s version, garnished with Ghana’s wonderful freshwater crabs, his eyes still glaze over. Aprapransa has an interesting texture and unusual flavor. The cream of palm fruit used means that it is a very rich dish reserved for special occasions. It also requires some time and effort, and for those outside of Ghana, several adaptations. There is really no substitute for the cream of palm fruit or the smoked/dried shrimp/crayfish. Also, try to find authentic ablemamu, if possible, or make your own.

Though this dish is served as a “one pot,” it has two components. The first is a bean and palm fruit soup that is thickened with toasted corn flour. Secondly, a thick gravy or “dressing” is served on top and/or the side.

Ingredients

Bean and Palm Fruit Soup

  • cup dried adzuki beans
  • 1 tablespoon salted cod (optional)
  • cups finely chopped shallots or onions
  • 8 to 10 ounces smoked whiting or other smoked fish, skin and bones removed and flaked
  • 3 or 4 medium tomatoes, peeled if desired and chopped
  • 1 small slice Scotch bonnet pepper (hot) or larger slice jalapeno pepper (mild), or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons powdered shrimp/crayfish
  • 1 can (800-gram) cream of palm fruit
  • Salt or seasoned salt to taste
  • 2 to 2¼ cups toasted corn flour (ablemamu)

Crab

  • 2 King crab legs or 4 fresh cleaned crabs
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

Gravy/Dressing

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • Small slice to one-half seeded chili pepper of choice (see heat chart)
  • ½ cup palm oil (from soup)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried ground red pepper (optional)
  • 1 to 2 medium tomatoes, sliced

Method

Directions

Prepare the beans

  1. Rinse and pick over the beans for stones. Cover with water and presoak the beans overnight. (Or use the quick method: cover the beans with water, boil for 3 minutes, let them sit about an hour.) Drain the beans and put in a large pot with fresh water to cover. Cook the beans several hours until almost tender. Drain.

Prepare the salted cod (if using)

  1. Simmer the piece of salted cod in water in a small pan for a few minutes or soak it for 30 minutes in warm water, then rinse well.

Prepare soup

  1. Put into a large pot the cup finely chopped shallots or onions, smoked fish, tomatoes, chili pepper, powdered crayfish, ¾ of the can of cream of palm fruit, 2 cups of water, and half of the cooked and drained beans (the rest to be added near the end). Bring to a simmer. As the soup simmers, skim off the palm oil that rises to the top (1½ to 2 cups of oil). Save ½ cup to use in making the stew and store the rest for another recipe. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.

Prepare crab

  1. While the soup simmers, cook the crab legs or crabs separately in a pot with salted water and the tablespoon of chopped onion, then set them aside to garnish the final dish.

Prepare gravy/dressing

  1. Put half the onion and ¼ of a seeded chili pepper (or to taste) in an electric blender with just enough water to grind. Grind to a paste. Heat ½ cup of the palm oil from the soup on medium and fry the ground onion mixture, ½ teaspoon salt, and a little dried ground red pepper, if desired, for several minutes. Add the remaining onion and the tomatoes to the oil and fry together to make the gravy. Set the gravy aside.

Finish the soup

  1. Remove 2 cups of soup from the pot and set aside in a bowl. Slowly stir the toasted corn flour into the remaining soup in the pot, stirring constantly to prevent lumps forming. Once all the corn flour is added, stir in the reserved soup and continue to cook and stir on low-to-medium heat until the mixture just pulls away from the side. If the aprapransa is very wet, try cooking it a bit longer or adding a little more toasted corn flour. The final mixture should be soft, but not runny.
  2. Stir in the rest of the cooked beans.

To serve

Aprapransa is lovely served on a large oval platter with some of the gravy/dressing spread over it and crab on top (if using king crab legs, break them into six pieces), and with a smaller bowl of gravy on the side.

Variation

Add some meat to the soup.