Thursday, 24 July 2014

Making Egusi soup a little more interesting.....

I come from an inter-tribal family. My daddy is Igbo from Abia state and my mom is Yoruba from Ondo state. What this means is that I have been exposed to different cuisines and variations of common dishes all my life.
Egusi soup is common to both tribes and there are several variations of this soup even in each tribe. Got that? LOL.
Anyway, this variation of Egusi soup will fall within the Igbo tribe because of the choice of vegetables used but regardless of where you are from, this is Nigerian comfort food that demands a nap afterwards.
As with most dishes, feel free to adjust ingredient quantities to taste and of course depending on how much you are cooking. This pot can feed 4 comfortably.
In a pot, add 200g of stock fish. We don't really like stock fish so I use these pieces. Stock fish imparts an amazing flavor and texture to anything you add it to.
Cover stock fish with water and add some salt to taste. Add enough water to be the liquid part of your soup. This is the beginning of building the flavor of your soup. You need to start boiling the stock fish well ahead of time since it takes quite a while to soften. An advantage of using pieces like this is it takes less time than the steaks.


 After boiling for 30 minutes,  add the protein of your choice (If using fresh fish, that has to be added at the very end of the cooking process). I used  300 goat meat. Add the goat meat and season very well. Bland stock is bland soup. I added 1 chopped red onion, 2 stock cubes, some Cameroonian powder, a little garlic (which helps the softening process of the goat meat) and a little more salt.

Boil until tender. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning if you need to. Add palm-oil. I advocate measuring palm oil. In as much as it is part of our local repertoire, its cholesterol heavy and really should be eaten sparingly. I used half a cooking spoon of palm oil.

Add ground crayfish, cleaned, deboned dried fish, locust beans and ground egusi and cook for about 10 minutes. I don't mind using locust beans that are whole but feel free to use any version you prefer. 

This is where it gets interesting. The vegetables I used in this version of Egusi soup were Uziza and Bitter-leaf. Yes indeed. Both vegetables have unique but delicious fragrant and taste profiles that add something special to the soup.

Add the washed and drained vegetables to the soup once you are happy with the thickness of the soup. Once the vegetables are added, cooking time is done.

Add vegetables. Stir well and turn the heat off immediately. Let the steam cook the vegetables just enough to ensure they are not raw but still álive'' and with a bit of crunch.

Serve with any starch of your choice. I also love plantain and egusi soup.

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