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In the center of Dakar, in the kitchen of the tamarind-eyed Souadou, Hektor Maille cleared up the enigma of the three paper balls.

Boeuf Maille

Braised beef in lemon sauce

The recipe for this braised beef preparation is attributed to secret agent Hektor Maille, who first cooked this in the kitchen of «Keur Souadou» in central Dakar – as a bovine variation on the Senegal chicken classic, Poulet Yassa. While he was cooking, Maille pondered the riddle of the three paper balls, that he had retrieved from the swamps of Hann earlier that day. The secret agent’s beef speciality, which has been a favoured dish ever since on the restaurant’s menu, has a lemony, flowery aroma and a sour-and-spicy and blooming fresh flavour. Thanks to the lemon and the considerably long time it is marinated, the meat is extraordinarily tender – with the onions and mustard making the sauce creamy. «Boeuf Maille» can be served with rice, polenta or fufu.

Ingrediens (for 2 persons)

500 g beef ragout (stew)

Juice of 3 lemons

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 pods garlic, finely chopped

3 teaspoons black mustard seeds (Lopop), lightly crushed in the mortar

3 or 4 teaspoons spicy mustard (best is Dijon mustard with white wine)

4 or 5 dried  chilies, de-seeded and finely cut

1 bayleafe

2 tablespoon rapeseed oil

4 onions, finely sliced 

1 pinch salt


  1. Mix lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard seeds, spicy mustard paste, chillies and bayleaf to make a thin sauce.
  2. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and carefully saute the meat on all sides.
  3. Add onions and saute them till they turn glassy.
  4. Pour the sauce in and cook briefly, then turn heat down to minimum, put the lid on, and depending on the quality of meat allow it to stew for about one-and-a-half or two hours – stirring the meat periodically. (Add water from time to time according to the composition of the pan; the meat should not become dry).
  5. Remove lid and allow the sauce to thicken to the desired consistency.

If one has the time, one can also marinate the beef in the spiced sauce: this enhances the flavour and also reduces the cooking time (the marinade penetrates roughly 10 millimetres of the meat per day). With the quantities mentioned here the beef will turn markedly sour – those who like the meat more fresh can use beef stock along with the lemon juice or simply leave out the lemon.

«Boeuf Maille» has a lemony, flowery aroma and a sour-and-spicy and blooming fresh flavour.

More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:

The whole menu, Agent Hektor Maille cooked one memorable evening in central Dakar for the guests of the the beautiful Lady Souadou:

First Publication: 1-2-2009

Modifications: 23-1-2011, 18-6-2011, 13-11-2011, 12-12-2011