Berbere, Awaze, Mitmita. Spicy words denoting super-spicy flavor. Combine with beef for stove-top success. Host to an Addis native (Addis Ababa, capital city of culture-rich African nation, Ethiopia), I was recently schooled in the ways of preparing Ethiopian-style sauteed meat, or tibs.
Tibs is a fun and easy dish that capitalizes on the magnificence of berbere, a 20-ingredient spice blend, and onions, both found throughout Ethiopian cookery.
My love affair with Ethiopian food began in Berkeley, CA, host to numerous fabulous Ethiopian restaurants. When I moved back to my home state of Florida, I brought a little of that Ethiopian flavor with me, adapting traditional recipes and tastes to fit the "can't quite take the heat" Gainesville populace. My friendship with Fitsame my guest came about as a result of a book I published, Ethiopian-inspired Cooking, a compendium of vegetarian recipes, as well as other publishing interests we both shared.
When she announced a trip to the States this year, I knew I was in for a traditional Ethiopian cooking treat. Yes, we made sourdough Injera flatbread from tef flour. Yes, we dipped into platters of lentils, shuro and potato salad. And yes, we practiced the tradition of feeding a guest three times (so as not to make an enemy, but a friend) by placing a small bit of rolled food into their mouth.
But it was with tibs that I received my proper Ethiopian cooking lesson.
ETHIOPIAN BEEF TIBS
1 large onion
1 green bell pepper
Berbere spice blend (buy online, at local international grocer, or make a substitute with 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon ginger powder, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1 teaspoon dry basil, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground clove all mixed in a bowl together)
Cube beef into small cubes, about 1/2 inch square. Marinate meat for a few hours in awaze sauce (1 tablespoon berbere, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon red wine). This is my modification Fitsame cooked the beef dry in the pan, then added seasoning, but I think this would be a nice addition.
Lower heat, add beef and thinly sliced or diced bell pepper, turning regularly, until cooked through, about another 10 minutes. If cooking dry beef, cook in separate pan first, then add to onions and bell pepper. If using marinated beef, go ahead and add to already sauteed onions with bell pepper.
Season again with 1 tablespoon berbere and a splash of red wine. Saute another 5 minutes until liquid from wine cooks out.
Garnish with some fresh sprigs of rosemary and a side dish of awaze sauce for dipping.
Ian Finn, former cafe manager, cookbook author, cooking instructor and food maverick, dishes up a whole lotta amazing recipes here.