Adapted from 'Cooking the Portuguese way in South Africa' by Mimi Jardim
November 2014 was the first ever 'South African Cook Book Awards'. TV cameras, radio personalities and journalists were eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winner and runners up.
I'm sure you've all had one of those moments when you suddenly recognise somebody 'really famous' and they're standing right in front of you in real life, and you think to yourself, there's no point going up and being that 'arb nerd' introducing yourself with some silly statement! Well I had just one of those at that book awards. However, I did manage to push my way through the press just to confirm that right there in front of me was Mimi Jardim, Author, cooking teacher, food consultant and Doyen of Portuguese cooking in South Africa. A gentle smile of acknowledgement from her seemed to suffice, until she saw my name tag and acknowledged my books!!!
She had a nurturing warmth where she almost took me under her wing introducing me to the South African Culinary World. And wings I might add are her forte' as she is the food consultant to Nando's, the international chain of addictive Portuguese flame grilled Chicken with a kosher franchise here in South Africa and branches opening soon in the United States.
I couldn't wait to have her on my radio show and it was no surprise that a personality so warm and real would share all her tips, secrets and recipes for some of the most delicious Portuguese dishes I've ever made and tasted.
My family loves spicy food and just as a bottle of Piri Piri sauce is a standard in my fridge, as it is in every Portuguese home, including of course a bay leaf tree and many chilli bushes in their gardens.
Being the food consultant to Nando's would mean Mimi has made piri piri sauce on a scale from from 1 - 10 in 'ouch' factor.
Here is her favourite piri piri sauce.
Mimi's Piri Piri Sauce
There are dozens of recipes for piri piri sauce. I prefer this very simple one. Piri piri chillies are VERY HOT. Unless you grown your own, they may be bought as dried, whole chillies. If you are using fresh chillies, crush or slice them, place them in a jar or bottle (preferably on with a cork top), add 2 cloves of crushed garlic, a small piece of lemon rind, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp salt. Fill the rest of the bottle with two-thirds mixed olive and cooking oil and one-third vinegar. Cork the bottle and shake once a day. Leave for at least 10 - 15 days before using.
Chicken Mozambique is Portuguese version of Chicken Piri Piri. My family loves spicy food! A bottle of Piri Piri sauce is a standard in my fridge, as it is in every Portuguese home.
To save time while working in the fields, or at large church gatherings (festas), it is the custom in Madeira to skewer chunks of beef on bay sticks and to grill them over glowing coals. In restaurants today, kebabs are served on iron skewers which hang from a rack.
This Kebabs on Bay Tree Sticks recipe is very easy to try at home and it is amazing what an atmosphere it creates. The host offers the bay stick skewers to guests, who help themselves to chunks of meat. (Don't forget to leave a hand free for the wine.) If you are using iron skewers, throw a few dried bay leaves into the fire - they produce a wonderful aroma. These can also be painted with blob of garlic 'butter' just before serving. Garlic 'butter' can also be served in a dipping bowl. Chunks of Portuguese bread/rolls can be placed on either side of a piece of meat to help pull it off the stick, then dipped in garlic!
Once you marinate the steak in Mimi Jardim's Prego Steak Rolls recipe for 3-4 hours, you won't be able to resist the the juiciness of the meat paired with the crispy Portuguese roll. Dipping the the roll and steak into the gravy is key and, of course, my favourite is the taste of the bay leaves.
You can easily make Mimi's Chocolate Salami recipe your own. I added honeycomb, glaced cherries, baby marshmallow and melted the chocolate chips to replace chocolate powder for a non-dairy alternative. If you like nuts, you can add 1/4 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts to the mixture.