Sunday is Father’s day and this dish is sooooo daddy centric, I wish I could transport it right to Lagos and serve him dinner. Shortly after med school, while I was interning at a hospital in Abuja, my dad had a stroke scare that freaked all of us out. That day is forever ingrained in my head as one of the worst days of my life. The phone call no child ever wants to receive and it forever changed my perception of him. As a young girl, he was infallible, the one who was always strong, my hero, our support and strength, the refuge of our family. He was never ill a day in his life and we took his health for granted despite his advancing years. After that harrowing incident, his diet and work pattern had to change drastically and he fought us on it. It didn’t help that I lived far away and as the eldest, I wasn’t around to back mumsie up. Lord knows we have stubbornness in common. I remember that was the first time I had ever screamed back at him because he was refusing to listen, wanting to brush the incident off as a minor thing, just so all of us wouldn’t worry and watch over him like a hawk.
Part of his diet changes was to reduce his protein, salt, sugar and oil intake. No mean feat, because those four items describe his favourite meals. Palm oil was off the table, out the window went meat, eba (garri), starch and pounded yam were thrown out too so we had to find creative ways to feed him. When I started getting requests for healthy recipes, I simply flashed back to making daddy’s meals so today I am bringing you one of them a little amplified. It is only amplified because I have listed some ingredients that I used, which I couldn’t find readily in Lagos. Nevertheless, this is a great dish regardless, so don’t sweat about not having some of the ingredients.
So if you have parents whose diet need to be modified, or you are on a diet yourself or on a journey to eating healthier, this will really work for you. You can still enjoy your taste of 9ja without having to feel like you are “eating grass like goat”, lol. Efo riro is a delicacy from Yoruba land and it is prepared with lots of palm oil, different cuts of meat, smoked fish, crayfish, pepper and the likes. This is Efo Riro de-constructed. Out with the “offending” ingredients, and replaced with healthy stuff which still taste great. While the taste may be different, the experience of eating is the same. Here is to you daddy, the best father any girl can ever wish for. Happy Fathers day in advance.
You will need
1 bunch of Spinach – in local markets this is called Efo Tete or Green
1/2 of a red onion
1 green chilli – in local markets you can purchase shombo or buy from the mallams who sell vegetables
2 firm tomatoes
1 ata rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
1 large clove of garlic
1 small broken stalk of ginger
Cayenne pepper – dry pepper
Garlic salt – optional
Onion granules – optional
200g Chunky pieces of fish: I used Cod – you can use 1/4 to 1/2 cut pieces of 1 whole fish. Make sure it is not an oily fish like catfish/titus, this is a healthy meal
4 scallops – you can substitute with fresh prawns or crabs
Seasoning cube – knorr chicken cubes preferred
1. Marinade the fish with a sprinkling of curry, thyme, cayenne pepper, 1/2 of 1 knorr chicken cube (you can use a whole one if you want), onion granules/powder, garlic salt, and a teaspoon of Olive oil. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: to make healthy meals more palatable, it has to be seasoned properly. Oil, and salt are great flavour enhancers, so if you are reducing the quantity you cook with, you have to amp up your spices to compensate. Place in the fridge to marinade while you chop the other ingredients.
2. Chop all the ingredients except the fish and/or seafood components. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: always make sure you chop the garlic and ginger a little finer than the other ingredients. No one wants to bite into a chunk of garlic or ginger
Chop the spinach finely
3. Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, add all the chopped ingredients to the pan and sprinkle over half a seasoning cube.
Sauté the vegetables in the pan for 2 minutes
4. Lower the heat, add the marinaded fish to the pan and stir gently. Let this cook for 2 – 3 minutes and watch the fish turn from pink to a lovely shade of white. You may need to move it around gently with a wooden spoon to equally transfer the heat.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: unlike my other recipes where i advocate searing the fish. This time, you wont do that because you want the fish to release its juices into the pan which will also season and cook the vegetables. At no point should you be tempted to add water. Just remember, use low heat and you will be fine.
5. When the fish has cooked, you will be left with a thick mix of fish and vegetables. Thick is what you want. The spinach will soon change the consistency, you’ll see. Add the spinach to the pan and gently stir to combine. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: gently stir, so you don’t break apart the fish.
Spinach cooks very fast. You only need a minute or two maximum. It is one of those vegetables that you definitely do not want to over cook. Stir around to combine.
As soon as you notice that the colour of the vegetables have changed to dark green and the juice has been released into the pan, you are done.
……….and that’s it. Simple and easy right?
Tell me this doesn’t look like Efo riro. If you have always been cooking with spinach because it is the only accessible vegetable where you live and you are getting bored of it, well I have just resurrected it for you. If you have foreign friends/family, you will like to cook something Nigerian for, here’s your answer. They will loooooove this, trust me.
My stars of the show – Scallops and Cod
After plating and taking pictures, I ate the rest of it, straight from the pan. Lol