4.4.15

ZOE'S GHANA KITCHEN @ THE KING & CO

I recently popped down to Clapham to try out some food I’ve never eaten before. Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen is what it says – Ghanaian food served in sharing style platters. Though I’ve eaten lots of different African food before I was yet to try any from Ghana, so arrived hungry and excited.

Tuesday’s dinner was at 409 – a small restaurant situated above The Clapham North pub. The dinner was a test run for Zoe’s residency at The King and Co in Clapham from 1st April to 31st May this year.
We started with the turmeric and thyme cassava patties and chilli and ginger okra tempura. Both were scrumptious. I love okra so that was always going to be a winner for me, and in its light batter it was delicious. But what really won me over was the chilli prawn sauce. Dark red and fiery looking it tasted so good, and was the perfect accompaniment to both the patties and the okra.


Second course was jollof spiced chicken skewers with jollof rice and relish. I was expecting serious spice on this, but it wasn’t that hot. It had a mellow flavour to it and the chicken was juicy though I felt the rice was lacking in flavour a little. However, having never eaten Ghanaian food my preconceptions were only based on what I’d imagined we’d eat rather than anything else. I've heard reports of spicy rice, so I think I might've just missed out in my portion.
 
Next was red red and kelewele – how great is that name?! A slow cooked, black-eye bean stew in a gently spiced tomato sauce with caramelised plantain. A great veggie dish and one that won over the table.


This was followed by my favourite dish of the night – whole roast mackerel served with chilli, lemon and garlic, homemade shito (pepper sauce) and small chop salad. The fish was perfectly cooked, flaking off the bone yet incredibly juicy, and the oiliness matched the spicing so well.


The final savoury dish was 5 hour braised hogget shoulder in a spinach and agushi (ground melon seed) stew cooked with coriander, fresh ginger and large vine tomatoes, served with mountains of spiced rice. Sadly this was where I learnt about an ingredient that I didn’t like – agushi is a strong flavour and it wasn’t one I loved. Others did though, so don’t let that put you off! The lamb was beautifully tender and soft and fell apart with the touch of a fork.


Pudding was a course of 2 halves for me – one half I absolutely loved, the other I wasn’t keen on. Bofrot puff puff is a mini, Ghanaian style doughnut that’s light and fluffy and sweet and sugary and SO good. This was served with Kenkey milkshake shots – a fermented smoothie liquid that wasn’t my favourite. It tasted a little yeasty but I was too busy shovelling puff puffs in my mouth to be sad about not loving the kenkey.


Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen at The King and Co is going to be a huge success. Zoe is an excellent chef with bundles of infectious energy about her. She knows her stuff and has been popping up all over London for several years with her unique and tasty Ghanaian menus. I had the chance to ask Zoe a few questions, and here’s what she had to say….

1. Who has inspired you the most in your career and what led you to start Zoe's Ghana Kitchen? 
I randomly got to meet Patti Sloely at a charity fundraising event I catered for a couple of years ago for See Africa Differently. Patti teaches cookery classes at Jean Michelle Novelli's cookery school and is a Ghanaian chef - I had no knowledge of her before that but she had heard of me and Zoe's Ghana Kitchen. She spoke to me as if I were her peer and gave me a very rousing and inspirational speech and encouragement about the path I was treading! 

2. What is the first thing you remember cooking?
Ahh, peanut butter stew (which is being served at the ZGK pop up at The King and Co) - otherwise known as 'NkatenKwan' - many West and East African countries have their own version of this groundnut stew and it's such a simple and delicious dish! Made with a slow cooked meat broth (my preference is lamb but it's often cooked with chicken), onions and tomatoes and gently spiced - when it's cooking the piquancy of chilli and onion mixed with sweet nuttiness can stop people in their tracks - my school friends who I sometimes cooked it for always wanted more and it became my signature dish in the early years of ZGK - with a side of sweet fried plantain and a sprinkling of gari - to me it just tastes of home!

3. What are your top 3, can't live without, ingredients?
Tomatoes, onions and scotch bonnet - these 3 form the basis of my passage style sauce with which I cook almost every stew I make. 

4. What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start their own pop up restaurant?
Cook what you love with love and people will love it!  

5. Favourite London restaurant and best pop up you've been to?
My favourite spot in East London for the last few years has been Chaat on Redchurch Street - the home cooked south Indian cuisine and atmosphere is both so simple and inviting. 

6. Do you have a final menu for your upcoming residency at The King and Co? 
It's pretty much final now with some small adjustments to our weekly specials and brunch offering - it will be going up on The King & Co website very soon!  

7. What's the craziest request/event that you've catered for? Any funny stories you can share...?!
I had an event last week cooking x 5 canap├ęs plus a street food menu plus a sit down meal for 250 people in a very small and limited temporary kitchen in a church - that was not without its own issues of space and cooking facilityies- on top of that a meat order turned up 5 hours late so we only had 3 hours to prep and cook everything - I'd rather not do that again!

8. Do you run Zoe's Ghana Kitchen full time? If yes, when did you make the switchover or have you always chef-ed as a career?
Yes, it's been full time for the past two years now - I was half way through my MA in creative writing when I went full time - or rather it went full time and took me with it... I've never trained as a chef or worked as a cook previously .

9. I love your flyer designs - do you do them yourself? Or if not, who creates them for you, if you don't mind telling us!
My best friend Yassa is an amazing graphic designer and he created the brand identity for ZGK – he knows me really well so we worked together to get an identity that reflects my personality and what ZGK is about - vibrancy, energy and fun! He's created such a great template to work with.

10. Finally, what's the plan for you in 2015, and beyond? Where are you currently working, and do you have any exciting projects in the pipeline (that you don't mind my readers knowing about!)
There's lots of exciting projects planned for this year! We're opening a street food pitch at Pump Shoreditch and hoping to make that a permanent home - we may also have an exciting opening in South London but I can't say too much about that just yet - the big aim is to open a small cafe/restaurant space so cross all your fingers and toes we get to make that happen! 


Do pop down to the King and Co if you fancy trying Zoe's excellent food. It's innovative and interesting, and you get a lot of food for your money. Dishes are great value, ranging from £3-7.50 and you can book a table by emailing hello@thekingandco.uk - booking is recommended, particularly if you want to go at the weekend.


SHARE:

4 comments

  1. The roast mackerel looks interesting. I love Talipia fish in Indian cuisine it has the perfect seasoning without taking the taste of the fish away Lucy x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The roast mackerel was my favourite, really well cooked and so flavoursome. I'm hoping to pop down to the King and Co to catch more of Zoe's delicious food.

      Rosie xx

      Delete
  2. Such good value for money! Caramelised plantain sounds absolutely delicious!

    Katie <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know - there was so much food! Her menu at The King and Co is great as everything's such good value you could go with a few mates and eat the whole menu!

      Rosie xx

      Delete

© a little lusciousness. All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Made By pipdig