Okay, I have to say thank you to Aunty Iyabo Lawani for this recipe. I have made peppersoup more times than I can count, but I have never made this before. I have heard of it though, and seen pictures. I just thought it was the same as the Yam and Fish peppersoup my mum always made at home. I have blogged about Yam and Catfish peppersoup before (recipe HERE). This is a fragrant, flavour packed and herby version that I will call Yam and Peppersoup 2.0. This is a meal on its own.
On a cold and grey Sunday afternoon, I decided to try Ukodo. Boy, oh boy, oh boy, where have I been siiiiiince that I have never tried this before. I mean, I am a Delta girl, albeit the Asaba side, but I have strong family connections from Ugheli and I have eaten many many urhobo dishes prepared by my Aunties. From Banga soup with Starch to Ogwo soup (i think that is how it is spelled) and some Palm oil sauce which is the Urhobo version of Nkwobi but made with smoked fish. The thing is, I know lots of urhobo delicacies by sight and taste, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what they are called. There was no need to really, I just gobbled anything I was given at my Aunties house, and that was it. Daddy will probably know their names though, but you usually can’t discuss food with your Dad, like you would your mum. So, I am on a journey to cooking more urhobo recipes, and any urhobo person reading this, please hit me up. I am always open to journeying to different cultures through food.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have the ingredients to prepare this dish, but as my mum just left, bringing with her goodies from Lagos, I was more than happy to flex my muscles and show off the amazing contents of my cupboard and freezer. Here is my Ukodo, tweaked Dooney’s Kitchen style. I knew I had to add some bits of me into this dish. Apologies to the Urhobo food purists who may take offence at my additions, but hey food is personal. I did not deviate too far from the original recipe though, so please grant me foodie artistic license.
You will need
1. 6 slices of yam – cut into cubes
2. 2 pods of Uda – i don’t know the urhobo term
3. 2 pods of ehu or ehuru – african nutmeg
4. 3 pieces of Cameroon pepper – use cayenne pepper i.e. dry pepper as a substitute
5. Crayfish – ground to form about 2 – 3 tablespoons
6. I stalk of dried lemon grass – don’t sweat if you don’t have this
7. Leftover boiled chunks of Goat meat
8. leftover boiled chunks of Chicken
9. Shredded boiled stock fish
10. Chunks of Pomo – smoked cow skin
11. Chopped Efinrin (scent leaves) – basil is a good substitute or buy it dried and soak in a little hot water for a few minutes to soften
12. 4 ladle spoons of Beef Stock
14. 1 small red onion
15. Seasoning cube – knorr chicken cube preferred
If you don’t have Uda or Ehuru at home, just use 1 tablespoon of ground Peppersoup spices
1. Cut the yam tuber into 6 slices, peel off the skin and then cut into small sized cubes. Leave in a bowl of water and set aside.
2. Grind the ehu/ehuru with crayfish and cameroon pepper in a mill and set aside.
ensure that you roughly grind
3. Transfer the yam cubes into a deep saucepan or pot, add the beef stock, your choice of meats, the ground crayfish mixture from Step 2, chopped red onion, lemon grass, 2 Uda pods, and just about enough water to cook the yam. Add seasoning cube and salt. If you used stock, you may not need to add seasoning cubes or salt. Let your taste buds guide you.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: this dish can be explained as yam cooked in a spiced broth, so make sure you add just about enough water to cook the yam and not drown the yam, otherwise your broth will be diluted in flavour and it will lack that powerful punchy taste which is sooooooo Ukodo.
I feel like I should point out that you don’t have to use all the fleshy bits I listed. I was flexing my muscles as I was boiling a big pot of meats for the month. You can go with just one type of meat. I suggest Goat meat though, because of its flavour.
4. Allow the contents of the pot to boil until the yam is soft and the broth has thickened. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: i decided to boil under moderate heat, so that the broth doesn’t thicken faster than the yam can cook. Remember that I have in the pot, lots of fleshy bits which will also absorb water. This took longer, but it will also allow the meats absorb the flavour of ths spices. Brilliant!. The broth will thicken because of the yam that is cooked in it. This is fine, as the broth for Ukodo is meant to be thicker in consistency, than your average peppersoup (which is basically watery). If you ntoice that the broth has thickened considerably, but the yam cubes are still tough, add water in ladle spoon fulls to dilute it a little or simply add stock.
5. Once the yam cubes are now tender, add the chopped efinrin, stir and further lower the heat for 2 – 3 minutes to allow the herb infuse into the broth. If you have ended up with a very thick sludgy broth, dilute it again and re-season if necessary. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: remember, this is peppersoup and not yam porridge, so you should have a decent amount of broth to eat the yam with. Don’t drown it though, you will lose a lot of flavour.
……………………………….and you are done. I was told to serve with Palm oil, but I thought nah, me eating it like this.
Eating this was sheer delight – with each spoon, I gobbled up yam, pomo, goat meat, chicken or stockfish with this really strong broth. Ah, I had three portions straight up. Lol. I know you will enjoy this too. Urhobo people Wado oooooooooooo.
KODO OR EPURU RECIPE is Easy and straight forward you need good yam cut 6 slices into a pot and add enough water to cook add ground pepper, 2 pods of Egidije or what d Ibos call uda, 3 tbsp ground dry crayfish, 1tsp of ground African nutmeg, dry ground pepper to taste, a stalk of lemon grass seasoning and salt to taste your chicken or goat meat already cooked and cook everything together till yam is cooked and the broth slightly thickened add scent leaves a few and serve yam and soup on separate plates with palm oil on the side.