The posts this week are dedicated to all my wonderful clients who use the meal drop off service. I am truly grateful for your patronage, because you have helped me in so many ways, the monetary value doesn’t even measure it. For example, I have cooked Edikang Ikong every weekend for 5 straight weeks now, and I am discovering new things each time and getting so much better at it. Practice truly makes perfect. Iwuk Edesi has been on my list to cook for a long time now, and I haven’t had the push to cook it until I received an order last week. My face lit up when I saw Palm oil rice on the list, because so far, most of my rice orders have been Jollof and Fried Rice.
My maternal grandma of blessed memory had a terrible gastrointestinal reaction to vegetable oil. She couldn’t stomach it, so all her meals were cooked with Palm oil. At parties, she could only eat soups served with a starchy solid, because of that. Iye Gbuyi who we the grandkids fondly called Mama, made her own “jollof rice” with Palm oil. We called it “Iresi elepo”, english for Palm oil rice. With being a food blogger, I found out that the Efik equivalent is Iwuk Edesi. Y’all know how much I love Efik food. Mama makes hers pretty much the same way with crayfish and smoked fish, but she never added any green vegetables to it, which is the Efik element here, and I love the contrast of the green with the brown of the fish and orange of the rice, so because of that, I will be naming this post Iwuk Edesi.
I also added my own twist to it, to truly showcase the flavour of palm oil. Palm oil gets a lot of flack from us Nigerians, and I will have you know that it is a very healthy oil to cook with, containing good unsaturated fats. To correct any misconceptions, Palm oil doesn’t contain any cholesterol. I repeat, it does not contain ANY cholesterol. Palm oil is a plant-based product, so it can never contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is only found in animal based products. Palm oil is not the enemy in Nigerian cooking folks, as with everything in life, use with moderation.
You will need
Long grain Rice
Smoked fish – I used eja osan
Crayfish – 2 or 3 cooking spoons
Freshly ground pepper mix
Beef stock – especially stock seasoned with smoked fish
Green vegetables – ugu, spinach
1. In a pot, heat up palm oil to get rid of the curdling taste, then throw in chopped onions and let it fry till it softens.
2. Add your freshly ground pepper, allow it to fry and then add generous amounts of well seasoned beef stock. Let it cook till the flavours combine.
3. Add the shredded smoked fish, 1 cooking spoon of crayfish, stir and let it soak up the flavours of the pepper stock. Taste and ensure you are happy with the flavour. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: make sure that you can at least taste the smoked fish, this is essential.
4. Add enough water to cook the amount of raw rice that you have washed and set aside. Re-season with salt, seasoning cube and another cooking spoon of crayfish to amp up the flavour. Just before you add the raw rice, use a cooking spoon to scoop out about one-quarter of the smoked fish.
5. Once it starts to bubble up, add the washed rice, cover the pot and allow it to cook
6. Check on the rice minutes later (timing will depend on how much rice you are cooking), and the rice should have absorbed most of the liquid in the pot.
7. Give it a good stir with a wooden spoon, to redistribute the contents of the pot
8. This last bit is my own personal tip. I took a leaf out of my Grandmothers Alapa (palm oil stew) recipe, click HERE. Palm oil has a distinct earthy flavour, which is watered down when you cook this rice. To scale up its flavour, just like Mama does with Alapa, I add a little extra palm oil, roughly about a cooking spoon (or under depending on how much rice), and stir. Trust me, the difference in taste before and after you do this is incredible. Very robust, anyone you serve this to, will know that it is Palm oil rice.
9. Remember in Step 4 where I said take out one quarters of the smoked fish, now it is time to re-introduce tha one-quarter, to amp up the smokey fish flavour in the rice. You can add about a tablespoon of ground crayfish if you wish. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: In contemporary jollof rice, spices like curry, thyme and ginger provide the flavour, this is native jollof rice, and native ingredients like smoke fish, palm oil and crayfish are your sources of flavour and you should be able to taste them in the rice. Also finish off by adding chopped vegetables, give it one final stir and take off the heat. Let the residual heat cook the veg and then serve. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of this step. I believe it is self-explanatory.
As this is Native Jollof rice, what better way to serve it than to use a clay pot.
Someone asked me on Instagram if Iru can be added to this, and my response was, yes you can, as many Yoruba people who cook this Palm oil rice add Iru, but the Efik’s don’t.
In case you are wondering, the Niger Delta name for this clay pot is Evwere. Courtesy of Labake who sent some to me.
Try Iwuk Edesi in your homes this weekend, and add another rice dish to your repertoire.
Another interesting rice to also try is Banga rice. For the recipe, click HERE.
Have a lovely weekend folks!