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Berbere Spiced Fish with Peas and Greens

Updated: Apr 16

Chef: Kevin Mitchell

Position: Chef Instructor and Culinary Historian

Instagram: @chefscholar


Chef Kevin Mitchell is the Chef Scholar. Chef Scholar is the combining of his two worlds, one as a classically trained chef and two his journey to become a scholar of food. His work examines the culture and history of the global South, giving voice to victims of the Diaspora, enslavement and Jim Crow through the lens of food. It’s not easy resurrecting the roots of American cuisine, but he enjoys his work.


How did you get started?

I got started in cooking at the age of six at the ankles of my grandmother. My time in the kitchen with her gave me a love for food and put me on the path to become a chef.


What was your first position: I started working in restaurants as a dishwasher. I am now a chef instructor and culinary historian at the Culinary Institute of Charleston in Charleston, S.C.




Story behind the dish:


This dish reminds me of my grandmother in the fact there are black eyed peas in it. The black eyed pea is one of the first things I learned to cook. I spent a good amount of time in the kitchen with her. She always cooked some type of fish that would be heavily spiced with cajun spices. Based on my interests I decided to use Berbere to spice the fish in my dish. I took some liberty with the peas by adding tomato, coconut milk and curry, however another nod to my grandmother was by the addition of greens. She would always make a pot of peas and a pot of greens so I decided to bring them together.




List Recipe: 10 servings

Berbere Spiced Fish with Peas and Greens

1 pound dried black-eyed peas Sea Island Red peas, soaked overnight

2 sprigs thyme

4 cloves garlic, divided (2 whole and 2 finely chopped)

2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

1 cup vegetable stock

1 can coconut milk

2 bunches : kale, bottom stems removed

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Drain soaked peas, place in a large pot, and cover with plenty of cold water. Add thyme and 2 garlic cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, about an hour. (After peas have been cooking 40-45 minutes, add a generous pinch of salt to the pot.) Once peas are tender, remove pot from heat, let stand 5 minutes, then drain. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.


In a wide, heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over medium-low; add the onion and cook until tender, about 10 minutes, then add ginger, garlic, red pepper flake and salt and cook stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the curry and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, coconut milk and reserved cooking liquid to pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens a bit, about 20 minutes.


Add the peas to the sauce and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until the peas are lightly coated, about 10 minutes. Stack kale leaves on top of one another, roll tightly and slice into thin ribbons. Fold greens into peas and remove pot from the stove. (Greens will cook from the residual heat). Adjust seasonings and serve.


Berbere Spiced Salmon

10 4 oz portions salmon

Berbere Spice or Cajun Spices

4 tablespoons of butter or olive oil

Sprinkle Berbere spice liberally over salmon fillets on both sides.

Melt butter or heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until sizzling hot.

Place salmon fillets in butter and cook each side 4-8 minutes, depending on the size of the fillet. Be sure to cook one whole side before flipping to blacken properly.


To Plate: Place a mound of the peas and greens mixture in the middle of the plate. Place a piece of salmon and finish with some green such as micro kale tossed in a splash with oil, lemon and a little salt


I think there needs to be a general consciousness raising among consumers. So many consumers aren't aware of the backstory. They see the end product in the supermarket but don't know all the steps that it took to get it there, who helped to get the food there.

Bryant Terry


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