I won’t eat akara if you paid me. I wouldn’t even touch it. And I am very happy to skip the meal if I am not able to substitute it for something else. I may eat stewed beans, given the right conditions, if I am in a very good mood but it has never been my first option. Now, their cousin, moimoi (read: bean pudding) is a different story: I could eat it all day. I think I am slightly addicted if I am being honest. I love moimoi like the proverbial fat kid loves cake.
Moimoi is one of those things that people love to eat, but not to make, because it is a labor of love. The process is very involved and very technical. If you don’t believe me, try watching a tutorial on YouTube. If you miss one small step, or your proportions (on the basic batter) are just slightly off, the moimoi will not be okay. And a connoisseur like me will notice. That said, making moimoi is like skinning a cat, in that there are many ways to do it. You can steam the basic batter by itself or with whatever protein (or mix of proteins) that you want – some people aim for what they call ‘the moimoi with seven lives’ (or seven different proteins). You can steam the pudding or you can bake it and I’ve even heard of people airfying it. You can cook the batter in leaves, a metal bowl with a lid, foil, plastic bag, ramekins, basically anything that can withstand the cooking process while holding its shape. Outside the basic batter, there is no wrong answer when it comes to making moimoi, but I think we can all agree that the gold standard of moimoi is leaf moimoi.
Leaf moimoi makes me so happy. Just inexplicably happy. Just happy for no reason. But for the longest time, I couldn’t make it. The leaves just never cooperated with me and my batter would leak into the water I was using to steam my pudding. This made leaf moimoi much more valuable in my estimation. It made me happy, and I couldn’t produce it, so I would gladly pay good money for it. Until I was forced to try. Here’s the story. I had a craving for moimoi, so I went grocery shopping with the goal of making it that evening. I didn’t think I could make leaf moimoi, so I planned to make do with ramekin moimoi. There was only one problem: I couldn’t find ramekins in the hypermarket. I walked up and down those aisles, no sighting. I could bet my head that I had seen ramekins there before, but I couldn’t find them on that day. The other option was to purchase them online and wait for them to come. That was not an option for me. I however saw moimoi leaves and thought I would give them a chance. I mean, how bad could it be? The worst-case scenario was that I would waste the batter and make a mess – not the end of the world.
On the way home, I called to mind the many videos I had watched on the subject (lol) and practiced the motions in my mind. When I got home, I went straight to work peeling the beans, blending, whisking… This is the point where I should have popped out my ramekins and assembled the puddings, but I thought it would be a good idea to wash the leaves again first. So, I washed the leaves. And then I rearranged my ingredients. And then I wiped the counter down. And as I did so, I noticed that the stove top could use a wiping too. That led me to the realization that the pot I wanted to use to steam the moimoi looked a little oily if I cocked my head to the left a little bit and closed my right eye. So, I rewashed the pot and as I did so, I decided to be honest with myself and admit that I was procrastinating.
The point of honesty is really the breakthrough point. I took the first leaf and lined it with a second one. Then I rolled them into a cone and folded the pointy end. I smiled as I put my fist in the open end to make room for my batter before I spooned the batter in and added my condiments. Then I tucked and folded and sealed the pudding. Then with shaking hands, I very carefully placed the sealed package on the steaming basket with the boiling water underneath. At this point, I had done all I could do, so I waited with bated breath to see if any batter will emerge from the folds. After about a minute, I didn’t see any. I looked from another angle, no batter. I blinked, as if to clear the film from my eyes and looked again, no batter. Hey! No batter! I first did a dance. Then I leapt for joy. Then I remembered that the rest of the batter was still in the mixing bowl and got back to work.
Here’s the thing: I could do it, but I didn’t know that until I tried. How many things do you think you cannot do just because you haven’t tried? Or like me, how many things have you not tried one more time?