Kwame Onwuachi

House Spice, Ginger-Garlic Purée, Curry Powder, Green Seasoning, and Peppa Sauce form a powerhouse pantry in 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi's kitchen, adding savory depth, refreshing piquancy, and a cooling herbal bite to any dish.
Advertisement
My America
Article
In his latest book, chef Kwame Onwuachi explores the foods, flavors, and family traditions that compose his experience of what it means to be an American.

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
Rating: Unrated
New!
"Everyone with roots in southern Louisiana, where red beans and rice is a staple, thinks that their mom makes the best version," says 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi. "But I'm the only one who's right. Growing up, my mom used this recipe as a base, sometimes adding in smoked turkey necks or smoked, spiced, and cured tasso ham, in addition to the ham hocks and andouille sausage that impart their smoke, fat, and spice to the Holy Trinity (celery, bell peppers, and onions) and, of course, the sturdy red kidney beans." To read more about how Onwuachi takes inspiration from Louisiana foodways, and for more great Southern recipes like this, see his story, "In Her Footsteps."
Pollo Guisado
Rating: Unrated
New!
"The soup all abuelitas make their grandchildren, cooking a ojo, or by feel, with a million variations," says 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi of this comforting recipe. "I didn't have a Puerto Rican grandmother, so this version is a re-creation of the flavors I remember from places like Caridad and Louie's on Gun Hill Road, 188 Cuchifritos, and all the other lechonerias, cuchifritos, lunch counters, full-on restaurants, and street food vendors that nourish and restore the Bronx's massive Nuyorican population. The soup is a festival of comfort. At its base are the annatto and sofrito that define much of Puerto Rican cuisine, plus a touch of cumin and, because it's me who's making it, a bit of house spice to give just the merest hint of heat."
Jamaican Callaloo
Rating: Unrated
New!
This Jamaican Callaloo recipe from Kwame Onwuachi's book, My America, is filled with protein-rich leaves cooked until tender and given spice and fulsome flavor with the addition of peppers and tomatoes.
Perfectly Steamed Rice
Rating: Unrated
1
Here, Kwame Onwuachi shares his top tip for making the best steamed rice. "The secret to perfectly steamed rice lies in toasting the grains before they go into the water," he says. "This gives them a wonderful nutty flavor that carries through and is augmented by stock and aromatics. It isn't strictly necessary, of course, but once you start toasting, you'll never go back to straight steaming again."
Curried Goat
Rating: Unrated
New!
"Goat is at the center of many of Jamaica's best dishes, from mannish water (goat head soup) to this curry, which clearly exhibits the influences of the Indian subcontinent," says 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi. "The same can be said in Trinidad, where goat doesn't just make a cameo but has a starring role. This curried goat is actually a hybrid of the Trini and Jamaican versions I remember. I've used Jamaican curry powder along with Trinidad's heavily aromatic green seasoning."
Advertisement
Chin Chin
Rating: Unrated
New!
"The streets of Lagos Island are crowded with street vendors, including the chin chin stalls, generally run by women, which are nearly impossible to resist," says 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi, who shared this snack recipe. "Chin chin are nutmeg-riddled fried puffs of dough, the Nigerian contribution to filling mankind's desire for crunchy, sweet snacks. From behind their tables, the chin chin sellers sold not just these addictive cookies but a whole menagerie of fried foods, foods whose crunch does double duty by helping to maintain their longevity in the hot sun."
Her restaurant, Ben's Chili Bowl, has been a gathering place for people of all kinds, from community organizers to world leaders.
Curried Goat
Rating: Unrated
New!
"Goat is at the center of many of Jamaica's best dishes, from mannish water (goat head soup) to this curry, which clearly exhibits the influences of the Indian subcontinent," says 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi. "The same can be said in Trinidad, where goat doesn't just make a cameo but has a starring role. This curried goat is actually a hybrid of the Trini and Jamaican versions I remember. I've used Jamaican curry powder along with Trinidad's heavily aromatic green seasoning."
Chin Chin
Rating: Unrated
New!
"The streets of Lagos Island are crowded with street vendors, including the chin chin stalls, generally run by women, which are nearly impossible to resist," says 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi, who shared this snack recipe. "Chin chin are nutmeg-riddled fried puffs of dough, the Nigerian contribution to filling mankind's desire for crunchy, sweet snacks. From behind their tables, the chin chin sellers sold not just these addictive cookies but a whole menagerie of fried foods, foods whose crunch does double duty by helping to maintain their longevity in the hot sun."
Her restaurant, Ben's Chili Bowl, has been a gathering place for people of all kinds, from community organizers to world leaders.
In this three-part video series, Chef Kwame Onwuachi traces his culinary roots by traveling to Trinidad, Jamaica, Louisiana, and Texas.
Kwame Onwuachi traces his grandmother's journey from Louisiana to Texas, one meal at a time.
Advertisement
Biscoff Banana Pudding
Rating: Unrated
3
The subtle spice of Biscoff cookies helps to balance the sweetness of each decadent layer of creamy custard and fresh bananas in this tall and impressive banana pudding for a crowd. It's inspired by one made by 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi's aunt Yolanda, of Beaumont, Texas, which he tasted on a recent trip to connect with his roots in Louisiana and Texas.
No flavor goes to waste in this étouffée—even shrimp shells are used to make the seafood stock. If using shelled shrimp, ask for 6 ounces of shells from the fish counter, or choose a high-quality fresh stock. It's inspired by 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi's memories of his grandmother Cassie Phillips' definitive version of the dish.
Kwame's Escovitch Snapper
Rating: Unrated
New!
Inspired by his travels in Jamaica, 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi shared this recipe for escovitch snapper. In Jamaica, escovitch fish — fish that's fried and then topped with pickled, thinly sliced vegetables — is everywhere. In Onwuachi's version, a garlicky marinade forms a crust as the fish cooks, adding flavor and keeping the snapper moist and tender, and a pickled tangle of thinly sliced chiles, carrot, and onion­—makes a punchy, crunchy topping for crispy fried whole snapper.
Kwame's Pepper Shrimp
Rating: Unrated
New!
Infused with layers of heat from Scotch bonnet chiles and fresh ginger, Kwame Onwuachi’s pepper shrimp are inspired by a beloved Jamaican street food. Deveining the shrimp but leaving the shell on helps protect against overcooking. Onwuachi fell in love with this recipe when traveling in Jamaica.
Chef Kwame Onwuachi explores the complicated and beautiful culinary history of Jamaica, with plenty of sprats and dumplings along the way.
Traditional Trinidadian doubles are served open-faced and quickly wrapped in wax paper, letting the bara steam, and keeping the spicy filling piping hot. Try leftover tamarind sauce in margaritas, drizzled over fresh mangoes, or with roast pork.
Spicy Cumin-Braised Pork
Rating: Unrated
2
Just a tablespoon of Onwuachi’s Pepper Sauce brings plenty of heat, and tenderizing flavor, to this reverse braised pork shoulder. As the liquid, and delicious fat from the pork, cook off, the resulting Geera Pork is coated in a richly seasoned paste, perfect for eating with rice or leftover bara flatbreads.
Advertisement
Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce
Rating: Unrated
New!
Onwuachi’s family recipe for pepper sauce highlights the sweet, floral notes of Scotch bonnet peppers with an upfront heat that doesn’t linger, but lets the other flavors shine. Try leftovers on eggs, grilled fish, or in a creamy cabbage slaw.
Chef Kwame Onwuachi and his grandfather hit the road in Trinidad, the land of doubles, geera pork, and fried shark.
Maggi Seasoning Cubes are made from fermented wheat protein and glutamic acids, providing a huge dose of savory essence to any dish. As foundational to West African cooking as Scotch bonnet chiles and palm oil, Maggi cubes have become a convenient substitute for more labor-intensive traditional seasonings and thickeners, such as sounbareh, made from fermented and roasted locust bean tree seeds. Stir leftover Nigerian Red Sauce into unsweetened coconut milk for a quick, spicy stew with fish or shrimp.
This blend of fresh herbs and aromatics is certainly spicy, but well-balanced by cooling celery and cilantro. Be sure to wear gloves while seeding and removing the ribs from the Scotch bonnet peppers, as their capsaicin sticks to the skin and can sting. Try this spicy seasoning in chef Kwame Onwuachi's Cucumber-Avocado Salad with Gooseberry Piri Piri and Spicy Cumin-Braised Pork.
"If there were more critics who are people of color, would things be different?" asks chef Kwame Onwuachi.
Kwame’s Waffle Fries
Rating: Unrated
New!
At his casual Afro-Caribbean restaurant, Kwame Onwuachi, executive chef of Kith/Kin in Washington, D.C. (kithandkindc.com), is reintroducing a crowd favorite from his pop-up days: waffle fries with berbere salt. The Ethiopian spice blend brings a citrusy sweet heat to the fried spuds.