Sòs pwa, Haitian bean sauce
My grandmother’s dining table on a weeknight, eight regulars, a bowl being passed from one set of hands to the next; someone shouting at the other from one end of the table warning them not to take too many whole beans when pouring their sòs pwa over their rice so as to leave enough for me…
That is the tableau I have in mind as I recall the few weeknights spent at my grandmother’s when I was a kid. Those nights I felt like a true queen. Everyone at that table knew I was fond of whole beans and thus made sure I got enough on my plate.
I can still see one of my uncles or aunts carefully filling the oversized ladle with the bean sauce only to lean it on the side of the bowl so as to separate the beans that had not been smashed during the preparation process from the sauce. They always made sure to transfer them to my plate along with a generous amount of been sauce poured right on top of the two or three spoonful of white rice I had previously requested be put on my plate.
I loved beans that much, and my rice had to have an equal part of whole beans to bean sauce for my palate to be happy.
My love story with that Haitian staple is that of a vast majority of my compatriots. Just like Haitians cannot eat without rice as mentioned in my previous article about that cereal, they cannot eat without beans either.
We simply love our sòs pwa. We spread it on top of our white rice, mayi moulu or even millet, another relatively popular cereal here in Haiti. The perfect complement to each of the above listed items.
Regardless of the chosen cereal, in Haiti, we eat beans on a daily basis throughout the week. To mix it up a bit and avoid being monotonous, we season our sòs pwa with ti salé or lardon , which we refer to as “nanm pwa,” the bean’s soul, and we vary the bean flavor from one day to the next.
Our repertoire is actually rich enough for us not to eat the same bean throughout the week. Red, black, white, and green are just a few of the appellations we have for our beans. I could go deeper into the varieties as there are variations within each of those shades and colors, but I’ll refrain from doing so as I may get lost in the process.
I will however add that, throughout my childhood, black beans and white beans were my favorite and I was particularly intrigued by a type of bean called pwa beu (butter beans) though, looking back, I am pretty sure my fascination stemmed from the fact that I was also a butter lover at that time. But that’s beside the point here. I clearly had a thing for beans and I still do to some extent.
I cannot be left alone with a pot of precooked beans. I still catch myself eating as many cooked beans as possible before reducing them to the puree that will then be liquefied, seasoned and turned into our famous sòs pwa.
So beloved readers, consider yourselves warned. If you ever invite me over for dinner, please abstain from puréeing all the beans in your sòs pwa. Leave enough for my palate to be pleased. Who knows? I might even sing your praises on here one day.
Beans actually take quite some time to cook, to speed up the cooking process you can soak the beans in some water for a couple of hours. This will soften them and save you quite some time in the kitchen.
- Uncooked Beans
- Piment Bouc (optional)
- Ti Salé or Lardon (optional)
- Butter (optional)
- Cook beans in a lot of water with a clove of garlic until soft
- Once the beans are cooked, separate them in half
- Purée the first half using either a mortar and pestle or a blender
- Strain the obtained purée and throw away the skin
- Mix the purée with the second half of preserved beans and water and season to taste. Add a piment bouc and some lardon to the mix if you wish
- Return to the stove until it thickens
- Add some butter (optional) and serve over some rice, mayi moulen (polenta) or millet.