Immediate Disclaimer, before my Ijebu aficionados come down hard on me. This is Ebiripo: the concept. Why the concept, you may be wondering? Well, my experimenting ways, forced me to tag this as the concept. You will soon understand why. No other place holds the recipe for Ebiripo, trust me, Google has not turned up anything. Not even an image, so read carefully, the steps are the same. Ebiripo is a staple of the other half of my family, the magnificent and sociable Ijebu’s. I was craving Ebiripo badly, for some strange reason. I almost shudder to think of what my pregnancy cravings are going to be like. My husband had better prepare himself. Lol. I could almost taste Ebiripo in my mouth, I swear, I could even smell it. On the same wavelength, I was craving Ekpang Kukwo which is like the Efik version of another amazing Ijebu dish, Ifokore. If you are not familiar with all these dishes, I hope I have intrigued you. I will explain further.
Ebiripo – This is a dish made out of grated cocoyam, which is wrapped in local banana leaves, popularly called Moi Moi leaves and steamed, just as you would Moi Moi. The beauty of Ebiripo is in its simplicity. Unlike Moi Moi, Ebiripo is made from grated cocoyam that is only seasoned with salt and seasoning cube, which my grandma would scoff her nose at, because she never cooked with seasoning cubes. What makes Ebiripo a winner is the sauce that is served with it. The Ijebu race has different clans. Ijebu Igbo, Ijebu Ode, Ijebu Sagamu, Ijebu Remo This is as far as I know. My mother is from Iperu, therefore, she is from the Ijebu Remo clan who serve Ebiripo with a delicious rich tomato sauce, popularly called ata din din. Some other parts of Ijebuland serve Ebiripo with Egusi Ijebu. If you haven’t tasted Egusi Ijebu before, I suggest you try it out. My recipe is HERE. Simply stop at the point before I added vegetables.
Ekpang Nkukwo – This is a fabulous dish from the Efik tribe which is also made by grating cocoyam, which is then carefully wrapped in cocoyam leaves and cooked in a delicious fish, perrywinkle and pepper stock. This dish is absolutely amazing, anyone who has tasted it will know why my cravings are well grounded. Oladunni Snr will be over in a few weeks, and my list is so long, she is asking for service charge. Lol. Cocoyam and its leaves are on the list, so be on the lookout for my recipe for Ekpang Nkukwo sometime next month. I really can’t wait.
Ifokore – This is very similar to Ekpang Nkukwo, very very similar. The only difference is that grated water yam is used instead, and it is not wrapped in leaves, rather, it is dropped in balls, into a rich fishy pepper stock. Grated water yam is also seasoned with chopped onions and ata rodo, which is fried to form Ojojo, my sister’s all time favourite. There was a long standing joke in our family along the lines of, she could be lured away and kidnapped because of Ojojo. My sister can start on Ojojo at midnight, despite the tedious grating, she doesn’t mind. She will sit down and eat it with relish till the last morsel.
Oladunni Snr is coming with all the ingredients of all the above named dishes, so be prepared to be wowed by the posts coming up in September.
You see with Ebiripo and Ekpang Nkukwo, the cocoyam used is the other specie of cocoyam which is not as common as it’s cousin which is the smaller variety used for thickening many soups from the Eastern part of Nigeria. This specie of cocoyam is much bigger, darker in colour and hairy. If you grew up in Lagos, you may be quite familiar with it. This specie is also used to make what is popularly known as Coco, which is fried Cocoyam chips. If youve only cooked with Cocoyam as a thickener for your soups, sit back and wait to learn a whole lot more in September under my Mummy Cooks Series.
So, back to the title of this post, Ebiripo: the concept. To satisfy my cravings, I popped over to the African store, and picked up the other specie of cocoyam used as a thickener. I had never tried it before, so I thought, what the heck, it can’t be that bad can it? If you have access to the other specie of Cocoyam, simply follow my recipe, and delicious Ebiripo awaits you. If there’s an Ijebu person (family or friends) you would want to shock and impress, just prepare this dish and watch the smiles break forth. To many Ijebu’s who live in the cities, Ebiripo is something they probably haven’t had in years, as it is a dish so synonymous with their hometowns, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. My mum an Ijebu woman hardly made this dish at home. It was always something we had at grandma’s or when we made the trip down to her hometown.
You will need
Tubers of Cocoyam
Seasoning cube – optional
Moi Moi leaves – can you try this without the local leaves? My grandma will haunt me from her grave if I dare say yes. Lol, so I am leaving this answer as open ended. Lol
Serve with Ata din din, or Egusi Ijebu
2 pieces of ata rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
1 Tatashe – red bell pepper
1 medium sized red onion
1. Peel the skin off the cocoyam, and place into a bowl of salt and water, so the cocoyam retains it’s colour.
2. Grate the cocoyam. You need to use the really tiny and closely packed side of the grater.
3. Simply salt the grated mixture and wrap in local leaves. My experience: as I was grating, I knew something was wrong. I have grated the other specie of cocoyam and it was not this liquify. WIth each grated piece, the mixture did not thicken. It felt very globby and watery. Oh well, it was too late to turn back or throw it away, so I pressed on. Lol
wrap the entire mix in leaves and place in a pot with a leaf or chopped off stems lining the base of the pot
add half a cup of water to the pot, top off with a spare leaf and cover the pot. Let it steam on low heat, and crack on with the ata din din.
4. For the ata din din, blend 1 tomato, 2 pieces of ata rodo, half an onion and one tatashe for a rich pepper mixture which I left to boil for 10 minutes to reduce it’s water content.
5. As this is to be served with Ebiripo, I decided to fry the chopped onion with water blended crayfish using 1 cooking spoon of Palm oil. I had never done this before, and henceforth I will use this style. It was amazing, frying crayfish and onions in Palm oil. The aroma alone was magnificent. I stood over the stove, inhaling and smiling.
6. Once the onions have softened, add the pepper, and fry till it thickens and absorbs all the palm oil
7. Add water in cooking spoons, to dilute the solution, so it can continue frying without burning. Do not season yet. I always prefer for my ingredients to cook naturally in their own flavours before I disturb them with salt and/seasoning cubes. I find that this makes my food taste fresh and natural.
8. Once you are satisified that the stew has fried properly, and is brimming a little bit with the oil on top, then you are done.
Now, back to my Ebiripo experiment. While it was cooking, it smelled like Ebiripo, but not as intense. I kept it on the cooker for as long as I could, topping up the water many times as it kept evaporating, yet my steamed cocoyam was not hardening. With every few minutes, I pressed it down, and it was semi solid. Even the leaves had changed colour, which is the sign that Moi Moi is ready. I gave up after a while, as it was obvious it was never going to harden. Lol. When I unwrapped the leaves, I was faced with a semi solid mass that was still white in colour. Ebiripo on the other hand is light brown in colour, with a greyish hue. It tasted a little bit like Ebiripo, but I was very disappointed. Nevertheless, I’ll try it again, once my mum comes with the right cocoyam specie.
If you can source the other variety of cocoyam, please try this out and send me the picture. To console myself, I served it with my delicious ata din din, and it wasn’t half bad. Lol
……..so, here’s my Ebiripo: the concept