This simply means Okazi soup cooked with akpuruakpu mgbam, english for Egusi balls. This is a delicacy from the people of Umuahia in Abia State. Adding to my repertoire of dishes from the Eastern part of Nigeria. I started making this dish with a lot of trepidation. Achi is a thickener I am not fond of at all. Now I know that I must have been buying it from questionable sources because I got my friend Chiby to send me some all the way from Scotland. Chiby gets her stash sent by her mother in law from Nigeria and I must tell you people, I am now an Achi convert. All I need now is a good source of Ofor (another soup thickener used by the Igbos) and I am good to go. If you live in the UK and you would kindly want to gift me some ofor, please send me an email. I will be very grateful.
Okazi is by far not my favourite vegetable to cook with. I can see why the Efiks pound it for Afang Soup. It is quite a tough vegetable, with not that much flavour. As you only need a handful for this soup, if you are not a huge fan of Okazi, you wouldn’t even mind at all. The star of this dish is the mgbam. Ooooooh, Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, and I thought egusi balls made with onions are the best things since slice bread. This is equally as good. Ofe Okazi is the soup to try if you are looking to step out of your comfort zone with cooking. Some dishes I try once for the education and experience, and may never make again for a long time to come, I don’t think Ofe Okazi is going on that list at all. It will be a regular from my kitchen, well until I run out of Achi and back to begging Chiby nicely for some more. Join me in the Ofe Okazi fan club, all hail the people of Umuahia for introducing this delicious goodness to Nigeria. Let’s Cook
You will need
Pre made akpuruakpu mgbam – egusi balls. Learn how click HERE
Okporoko – stock fish
Dry fish – like azu mbasa or mangala
Snails – if you have
Achi – powdered
1 handful Shredded Okazi leaves – fresh or dry
Achara – if you have
Isam – perwinkle
I would like to state that I could not source achara where I live, and I had run out of periwinkles
First you cook the mgbam. This, people also takes a lot of time and patience. the one good thing, or should I say one of many is that you can make a large batch of the mgbam and keep for later. I definitely did, and I have subsequently made Ofe Okazi. Amazing, how quick it took with already cooked mgbam. While the mgbam is cooking, boil your assorted meats with a lot of stockfish and dry fish. You need to get a very rich stock out of boiling your meats because you should not have to add seasoning cubes or possibly salt when you start cooking the soup.
1. Fill a big pot half way, add palm oil and bring to a boil. I took some cooks artistic license here by adding some ground crayfish into the water, for extra absorption of flavour.
Drop in the mgbam and let it boil until it turns completely white.
This would take quite some time and you would need to top up the water again. You will know the mgbam has cooked completely when it is also white inside when you bite into it. Very important to check the insides.
2. See, the previous brown mgbam? Now white
3. Take out the mgbam from the pot and transfer into another boiling pot containing assorted meats, shredded stockfish, smoked fish, isam, dry fish, a little extra palm oil and fresh pepper and achara (if you are using). This is a rich stock that forms the base of your soup. The flavour of the stock should have a deep robust flavour. If you are not quite there yet, add a tablespoon or 2 of ground crayfish, leave to boil for about 2 minutes and it should do the trick. Allow the mgbam to boil in this stock for 7 – 10minutes to absorb the flavours in the pot.
4. Mix 1 tablespoon of crayfish with 1 tablespoon of achi powder. The crayfish is needed to prevent the achi from forming lumps. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you only need a little achi to thicken the soup, because ofe okazi is not a thick soup at all
5. Add the achi-crayfish mix to the pot and stir quickly. Leave it to cook for about 5 – 7 minutes to thicken the soup.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: if you have never cooked with Achi before, a little caveat. It would look at first as if the soup is not getting any thicker. DO NOT be tempted to add more. That is a rookie mistake I myself made a few times years ago with achi and ended up with a thick globby mess, before i got the hang of it.
Give it some time and the liquid stock you started with would get thicker and take on a pleasant light yellowish orange colour.
see what I mean. Taste to ensure that you are fine with the flavour. Re-adjust if necessary.
6. Rinse your dry shredded Okazi leaves with enough water, add to the to the pot and stir. You can also choose to add more smoked fish, if you wish. Give it another 3 – 5 minutes, take off the heat and serve.
…………….with all pride and pleasure, for a soup I attempted for the first time, here is my Ofe Okazi na akpuruaku mgbam
May The Lord bless the Umuahia people…Mamma nu o!
It is not just the stock part of this soup that rocks something awful, chewing the mgbam, which previously tasted bland, but has absorbed all the flavours from the other contents of the pot. YUMSSSSS!!!!!!!
As written previously, Ofe Okazi is not a thick soup by any means. So, make sure you get the consistency right
Despite the soup being named after the vegetable Okazi, don’t add too much. One handful is just about right
I thoroughly enjoyed this soup. Pairing it with steamed green plantain amala, was a very wise decision. The sweetness of the amala, combined with the sour earthiness of the soup is something better tried than imagined. To learn how to make steamed green plantain amala, click HERE
#steppingoutofmycomfortzone #expandingmycookingrepertoire #igboandyorubafoodfusion