Top Chef finalist Chef Eric Adjepong is on a mission to bring West African cuisine to the spotlight. We partnered with him not only to support his mission, but to bring a delicious new flavor profile to Territory’s menu.
Eric’s thoughtfully designed meal features jollof rice, an essential dish in West Africa. Jollof rice is made by cooking white rice in a tangy, spicy sauce made of red peppers and tomatoes. It packs some heat from fresh habaneros, instills tanginess from the cooked tomatoes and vinegar, and has many layers of seasonings like ginger, nutmeg, and garlic.
This West African red sauce is also used to dress the roasted chicken breast. On the side, a simple garlic sautéed kale and a fresh tomato and onion salad compliment the spice-forward sauce. During our interview at Union Market, I asked Eric to share some details about the meal he created for Territory.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS DISH FOR US?
If aliens came down to Earth and said take me to the number one dish from West Africa, 9 times out of 10 somebody’s going to make you jollof rice. It’s a really great intro into the flavor profiles of West African food and what it’s all about. And it’s rice, something that’s easily recognizable. I call it the paella of West Africa. When we decided to partner, that’s immediately the food I thought about.
MANY OF OUR CUSTOMERS MAY NOT HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH WEST AFRICAN FOODS OR FLAVORS. IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT THEM TO KNOW ABOUT IT BEFORE THEY DIVE IN?
The flavors are bold and strong, they’re very prominent. You get subtlety from grounded spices like nutmeg and clove, but then you get the freshness from tomato and a little bit of heat as well. It’s diverse, and for someone who hasn’t had it before, they’re in for a really great experience.
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO THINK ABOUT OR FEEL AS THEY’RE EATING IT?
Just be open. Once you understand and really get a feel for the flavors, my hope is that you’re curious about what else you can eat from West Africa. Africa has a lot of stories to tell through food and that includes the way America, and a lot of western worlds eat. Jollof rice is directly associated with jambalaya rice. Once you have it, you’ll get that association. So just explore, that’s my hope for what happens.
I MYSELF HAVE WONDERED WHERE I CAN GET MORE FOOD LIKE THIS. WHERE CAN WE GET MORE WEST AFRICAN FLAVORS?
Well it’s not just West Africa, it’s the whole diaspora, because we all use the same types of ingredients. They’re prepared a little differently but we’re all hitting you with the same flavor profile. There are plenty of Caribbean places, too that use the same flavors. There are a lot of spots throughout DC that I think are hidden gems.
- In DC, Eric recommends: Apio on 9th street, Bukom in Adams Morgan, and Kith and Kin on the wharf.
- In DFW, we recommend: Reggae Wings and Tings with locations in Garland and Mesquite, and Yemsade in Grand Prairie.
- In LA, we recommend: A Taste of Segal in Little Ethiopia, Cha Cha Chicken in Venice, and in Century City, Aduke African Cuisine.
- In SF, we recommend: Suya African Grill with locations in Berkley and Oakland.
Make sure to order Eric’s meal while it’s on the menu for a limited time. New to Territory? Try it on the house with $30 off your first order.