Spice Support: suya (yaji)

Today’s installment of Spice Support features a blend of spices that is perfect for grilling season. Called yaji or suya spice, the blend contains a fiery, umami-packed assemblage of ground dried chiles, ginger, peanuts, and more, guaranteed to perk up everything from meats to vegetables.

You’ll commonly see it used on grilled, skewered beef, but the spicy blend is equally at home on chicken, shrimp, or vegetables. Suya spice often contains fermented locust beans or bouillon cubes, but one ingredient really makes it stand out: ground peanuts. Typically the peanuts are ground into a butter, from which the excess oil is extracted. After that, according to the article linked above, “the nut paste is fried or roasted into a brittle mass known as kuli kuli. The kuli kuli is then ground again and mixed with the spices mentioned above for an earthy, nutty, deeply savory and vibrant mix of flavors.”

There are 29 recipes for or featuring suya spice in the EYB Library, and about one third of those are available online, including Beef suya from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street (pictured above), and Coconut rice with grilled chicken suya from Great British Chefs – Chef Recipes by Lerato Umah-Shaylor. While most recipes substitute ground dry-roasted peanuts for the kuli kuli, you can also use the shortcut of replacing the ground nuts with peanut powder, available in many health food stores and in many supermarkets.

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