This is my 30th post YAY!!!!!!! It has really been an incredible journey. I can’t believe that I only started last month. 30 posts, with all that has gone on this past month I consider an achievement. I wouldn’t have done it without you the readers, so a big thank you for inspiring me and challenging me.
To my Calabar people, The Lord will bless you guys for introducing to the world such rich delicious food of which Afang Soup is one of them. To Joy, that taught me how to cook this soup – the best way to hail you will be in your language. So if there is anyone that has an apt phrase in the Efik language please drop a comment, and I will update this post.
Afang soup second to Edikaikong is another great export from the Efik people, but guess what, it is also cooked in Cameroon. If you check your Geography, you would know that Cameroon is a direct neighbour of that part of Nigeria. Remember the Bakassi saga? Like Edikaikong, there are too many misconceptions about this dish. Joy re-taught me how to prepare this dish. Here is what I learnt from her.
1. You MUST use Okazi leaves if you want to call it Afang Soup. I’m afraid there is no substitute otherwise you are preparing Vegetable Soup
2. The ratio of Okazi leaves to Waterleaf MUST be 1:2
3. The Waterleaf should go in first – traditionally it should, but by the next point you’ll see why you can bend this rule
4. You don’t have to pound the Okazi leaves. If you want to flex muscles you can, or you can chop the leaves extra finely to reduce the surface area. Okazi is a very tough vegetable so pounding helps to break it down a bit to soften it. You can also blend it. I must say that I tried blending it once and I ended up with baby food despite my best efforts. So one afternoon, I suddenly remembered Joy say soak the Okazi leaves in hot water and leave it to soften, and then add it to the soup. This is the way, the Cameroonians cook it. They don’t blend or pound. I thought why lose all the nutrients in water so I decided to boil the Okazi with the meat instead since I would cook with the stock. I swear, it worked. Foodie Honour
5. Unlike Edikaikong you are allowed a little leeway in terms of the fluid content of the soup. So, where Joy will say Edikaikong should not swim in water, Afang can to a small extent because Okazi takes longer to cook than Ugu and you need enough stock to cook it.
What you’ll need
2cups of Okazi leaves
4 cups Waterleaf
500g – 1kg of Assorted meat – make sure you have enough stock
1/2 cup of ground Crayfish
1cup of shredded Smoked fish
1 medium sized stock fish
1 cup of Periwinkles
4 pieces of Ata Rodo (scotch bonnet/habanero pepper) – preferably the yellow variety
1 cooking spoon of Palm Oil
1cup of smoked Prawns
Seasoning cubes – Knorr Chicken cube preferred
So here we go:
1. Boil and season your meat with salt,chopped onions and seasoning cube. If you are also using Offals please boil in a separate pot so you don’t contaminate your stock. If you would like to use my method, rinse the Okazi leaves and add to the pot of meat, otherwise pound in a small mortar and pestle or blend.
2. If you boiled the okazi with the meat, once the meat is soft, use a frying spoon to pick out the leaves and set aside in a bowl. Now examine the volume of stock you have left. If you have more than 1 cup please decant some of the stock and set aside. If you did not use my method of boiling the Okazi with the meat then please make sure you have 2 cups of stock left.
3. Add the cooking spoon of palm oil to the meat and let it boil for 2 -3 minutes with the stock till it has a reddish colour, then add the blended Ata rodo, shredded smoked fish, ground crayfish, smoked prawns and periwinkle and let this boil for 5 – 7 minutes. This is to create a rich tasting stock which would be the base for the soup. If you get it right at this stage, you may never need to use additional seasoning cubes
4. Add the waterleaf and stir. Cover the pot immediately to steam the vegetables and let this cook on high heat for 3 -5 minutes. Open the pot and stir again.
The secret to cooking with waterleaf is this – it must be the first thing you rinse when you start cooking. Some say squeeze and squeeze so as to extract most of the water content from the vegetable. I will tell you NO. You will be left with green chaff. Simply rinse and spread out in a large tray and place where it will be properly aerated so as to dry out the vegetables naturally.
5. Add the Okazi leaves and stir. If you used my method from step 1, after adding the Okazi leaves turn down the heat to low immediately and let this cook for 2 minutes or less. Remember, the leaves are already soft so you don’t want to over cook it. If you did not use my method and you pounded on blended the leaves, then let it cook for 5 minutes and taste for salt and seasoning
…….and there you have it. Afang Soup. Serve with Yellow Garri, Fufu or Pounded yam
This was sent in by a reader, after trying the recipe