I have been advised or is it cajoled to marry an Igbo man. Hehehehehehe. Because I seem to know how to cook all their soups. *their words not mine*. I know a few friends and relatives who will disagree, but these are the same people who don’t like to hear me say, I can marry a White man you know, in a lot of ways we share the same ideologies on marriage and family, so we will suit just fine. Hahahaha. Olumide one of the most vocal will say “you are not allowed”. Lol. When someone on the Facebook Group So You Think You Can Cook, mentioned the many Igbo recipes that I have, I went to Google ‘Igbo Soups’ just to be sure that I haven’t missed anyone out. According to Google, I haven’t but I know that there must be some out there that I probably haven’t tasted or even heard of. This is to challenge to all my Igbo readers out there, please enlighten me. I have heard of one other soup called Ofor soup, but it is basically the same as the Native Soup from Rivers. I spoke to my friend Chiby yesterday and she gave me the low down on this soup. Once I source my fresh fish this weekend, I will be making it.
If you’ve always found the cuisine of the Igbos frightening and complicated, especially if you are a new bride looking forward to pleasing your new in-laws with their tribal or clan food, don’t be. As numerous as their soups are, the variety is mostly down to the choice of vegetables which names the soup. There is a lot of commonality with the technique. I have the recipe for Ofe Onugbu (bitter leaf soup) already (recipe HERE), I also have the recipe for Ofe Owerri (recipe HERE). If you have looked at them or tried them before, this recipe will be a breeze for you. The only difference being that Oha/Ora leaves are not to be chopped with a knife. Apparently, it makes the leaves bitter, so you have to tear the leaves apart with your fingers.
You will need
3 pieces of Cocoyam
1 – 2 handfuls of Oha/Ora leaves
half a bunch of Uziza leaves
2 wraps of Ogiri
1 piece of Tatashe – red bell pepper
2 pieces of ata rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
1 1/2 cooking spoons of Palm oil
1 piece of Stock fish
1 piece of smoked fish
Uziza leaves for extra flavour – a few leaves or grind a couple of uziza seeds
1. Season and boil your meats with the stockfish until tender. When you have a sizeable volume of stock that you think will cook the soup, add the blended tatashe and ata rodo.
2. Put the cocoyam to boil with enough water. Do NOT add salt.
was and tear apart the smoked fish into bite sized portions
3. Let it boil with the meats until the pepper dissolves thoroughly, turning the stock to a shade of orange.
then add Palm oil.
4. Let the palm oil dissolve until you see bits of oil floating at the edges of the pot.
5. Once you have a rich oil filled stock, then add the wraps of Ogiri. Start with one wrap and let it dissolve. In a few minutes you will be able to smell and taste the ogiri in the stock. If you want a much stronger flavour, depending on how large your meat and stock is, add another wrap.
6. Right about when you add the pepper to the meats in stage 2, you should have put the cocoyam to boil. Once it is soft enough, and I mean soft enough not just for the fork to go through, but to break it apart, take it off the heat, peel the skin and put in a small mortar to pound. You can use a food processor or a blender. If it doesn’t move smoothly, just add a little hot water to get the blades moving.
pound the cocoyam until soft, smooth and creamy.
it is okay to have tiny lumps. As long as they are not hard lumps, it will dissolve into the stock.
7. Add the cocoyam paste to the stock in balls. Right about morsel size. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: I prefer to lower the heat once the cocoyam paste is in to reduce the chance of burning.
in a few minutes time, between 3 – 5 depending on how low the heat is, the cocoyam paste will dissolve and thicken the stock.
you should be seeing the stock change to a pale shade of orange and it should be thicker in consistency, but not as thick that it is like a sludgy custard.
8. Add crayfish to the stock, which will thicken it further and give it flavour. Give the crayfish a few minutes to dissolve and taste the soup. Re-season if necessary.
9. Then you add the oha leaves. Simply tear the leaves apart gently with your fingers. The leaves are darker in colour because I used frozen Oha and uziza leaves to cook this soup.
give it a stir, add shredded smoked fish, lower the heat further and let it cook for a few minutes. Not too long, to retain its colour if you are using fresh. I was using frozen, so the leaves had darkened a bit to a deep shade of green, but the essence and flavour of the leaves was still there.
………………..and that’s it. Serve your Oha soup with any starchy solid of your choice.
Some people may be wondering, Dunni why Pounded Cocoyam? That’s strange, isn’t cocoyam simply used as a thickener? Well you are correct, but I am all about pushing the boundaries and exploring options. Sometimes I shake my head about the inane arguments some people have over food and their unexplainable stand on how things must be done. You can’t use this and call it the same soup. Crazy, I know. You left this out therefore it is not the same dish. BS in my opinion. If you have read the arguments some people put up, a non Nigerian will look on and wonder if there is more to it than food. Food is like Fashion, do what you want with it. Express yourself, surprise your taste buds. The greatest chefs in the world thought outside the box. Enough of the preaching.
I decided to pound the cocoyam because I enjoy pinching out of the paste while i put it in the stock. I just love the taste of boiled coocyam. Luckily I had one big piece left, so I decided to boil it to the point that it was soft, just the way you would with yam. Too soft and it becomes a paste. I pounded the cocoyam, wrapped it in cellophane and left it to cool a bit. it toughened up after a few minutes, and I served it on a plate and moulded it in a shape similar to the uncooked Cocoyam and decided to be cheeky by even adding hairs. I am guilty of many things, and attention to detail is one of them. I also decided to be cheeky by serving the Oha soup in the shape of a Comment icon. Hehehehehehe.
This was my Sunday Lunch. I hope you all have a nice week and are preparing for Christmas. if you need an help with your Christmas cooking or Food SHopping List, just let me know, I am happy to help. First Christmas as a Food Blogger, and I am very excited.