Monday, 4 August 2014

Ofe akwu (Palm nut soup)

I learnt how to prepare ofe akwu from one of my closest and dearest friends. As a typical Igbo family with core traditional values, it wasn't unusual to hear the thumping sounds of mortar and pestle pounding away the flesh of the Akwu every Sunday afternoon in her family house. During my uni days whenever there was a short break, i remember travelling all the way from Enugu state where my school was located down to her house in Anambra state to spend the weekend just so i could enjoy this native dish with white rice which was usually well prepared from scratch. This is definitely one of the tastiest igbo soups i've come across and a favorite among many.
Ofe Akwu which simply means Palm nut soup in igbo language is a native Nigerian soup, popular in the eastern part of Nigeria. It's quite similar to Banga soup(Delta style palm nut soup)Abak atama (Efik style palm nut soup) with the only difference being the type of spices and herbs used in preparation.  For Ofe akwu, you could either use just Nchuawun as i did in this post or a combination of Nchuawun (Scent leaves) and Ugu "Pumpkin" leaves . When you go to buy Palm nuts "Akwu" it's always best to pick the right types to get the best result. There are usually two types of Akwu sold by the traders: The "Agric''(which is fleshy and therefore would give you more oil extract) and the "Native"(looks smaller but is known to be sweeter). It's always advisable to combine both to get the maximum benefits. Ofe Akwu is mostly used as a stew for white rice in the east but in some other parts, it's used as a soup and taken with "Swallow" i.e Garri/eba, Semolina, Fufu, wheat meal, corn meal e.t.c. For me, i love taking mine with both rice and swallow ;). 

How to make Ofe Akwu (Igbo palm nut soup)
• Prep Time:  30 minutes
• Total Time: Over an Hour
• Serves :      10-12 people


Ingredients:::
• 1800kg Fresh Palm Nuts (Aku) (2 Derica cups)
• 400g assorted meat :Cow Intestines, Tripe a.k.a Sharki
• 1 Cooking spoon Crayfish, Ground
• 2 medium sized Dry fish / Smoked Fish
• 1 medium sized Stock fish "Panla" a.k.a.Okporoko (i skipped this)
• 2 Seasoning cubes. Crushed
• 1 Ogiri Okpei (Substitute: Dawadawa)
• Salt to taste
• A handful Scent leaves "Nchuawun"
• A handful Pumpkin Leaves-(I skipped this) (View full list and pics of Nigerian leafy vegetables)

Preparation of ofe akwu
Directions:::
Step 1: Rinse the palm nuts 2-3 times with water then place in a medium sized pot. Add clean water just enough to cover the palm nuts in the pot and cook on the burner for 15-20 mins till the nuts get soft. you can check this by biting into one of the nuts. if it's soft, then its ready. Strain the liquid used in boiling out and place the palmnuts in a mortar and pound with a pestle till the skin separates from the kernel. Scoop the pounded nuts into a clean bowl and add water into it. Squeeze and strain the palm oil into a bowl

Step 2: Wash and place the Beef and assorted meat in a different pot. Add the Crushed seasoning, Pepper, Salt and water just enough to cover the meat in the pot. Cook till the meat gets tender leaving the concentrated meat stock within. 

Step 3: Prepare the ogiri okpei by placing it in a small bowl of water. Mash it up to dissolve -Set aside.

Step 4: Prepare the stock fish (if using any) by soaking it in hot water to soften for 10 minutes then rinse with clean water. For the smoked fish or dry fish, all you need to do is open it up from the middle, then remove the bone and gut. Rinse and set aside

Step 5: Pour the extracted palm nut liquid in a medium sized pot and cook for about 10 minutes. Gently add the Beef and assorted meat (Including the stock "Meat water").

Step 6: Pour in the Ogiri okpei liquid, Add the Smoked fish and stock fish (if you are using any), Add the ground crayfish. Stir and leave to cook with the pot covered for 25-30mins.   

Step 7: Place the Scent leaves together and thinly slice with a knife. Repeat the same for the pumpkin leaves "Ugu" if you are using any. Add the chopped leaves into the pot of soup and leave to simmer for 5 mins.

Turn off the burner and serve with Boiled rice or your favorite swallow.

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31 comments:

  1. i've seen my grandmum use that Ogiri Okpei before...the methods are the same for Atama soup(Calabar palm kernel soup) just that instead of scent leaves and ugwu atama leaf is used*sorry i don't know the english name for it*.
    Then another way of preparing the palm kernel soup is with okro and ugwu leaves>>>my mum calls it "wonderful soup". lol
    Well done dobby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ofe akwu is not 'one of the best' Igbo soups...It is the best. Have a taste of my Grandma's (God rest her beautiful soul) & you'll definitely agree with me. In fact, I could easily argue that the pot of stew Esau sold his birthright for was ofe akwu. Afteral palmnut was the 1st tree that God made right? :). Thanks Dobby for making me remember how much I miss this dish :(

      BTW, it's 'Nchuanwu' & not 'Nchuawun'. Another commonly mispelt Igbo word is 'Ugu'. It's not 'Ugwu', like Ugo Ukam spelt it above

      Delete
    2. Somaga...u try.i bu ezigbo nwa for igbo. I will not lie too dat was d soup dat made Esau a looser. Ofe aku ato ka nu biko.

      Delete
    3. @ Ugo Ukam: Thanks alot for this Ugo. i'm a huge fan of Atama soup also and the flavors from the leaf and spices make it quite addictive. After making it the first time @ home, i still get requests to make it over and over by the fam. Atama leaf is also known as Beletientien and is quite popular in the delta areas. For this soup, it's used fresh or dry.

      Delete
    4. @Somaga & Her Excellency: lol! Biko gbaharamu, i was only trying to play down the awesomeness of the soup...it's definitely the best. This was definitely the soup esau sold his birthright for :D :D.

      Thanks for the spelling corrections, would make the necessary changes asap ;)

      Delete
  2. Chei ofe aku ato ka....dobby i trayi ka, chukwu gozie gi. But for dat okpei I lyk it so much but can hardly find it in calabar,bikonu. Weldone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Da'alu nne :). You could actually substitute okpei for 'dawadawa' if they sell it around there. Its actually the same but shaped differently.

      Delete
  3. To also get d best taste use big big ice fish...and u shall testify wonders...Amen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's definitely what i intend doing next. Can actually taste it already :D

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  4. wow, now that's a home cooking right there, your pictures got me drooling. Great post dear and i love your blog.

    StyleandBeautyLounge

    Oh by the way , if you would like to follow each other on Google Friends Connect my link is above , i always follow back .... Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks you for this great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you are welcome ethnic food :)

      Delete
  6. Great Post. Lovely Blog. Really loving your blog.
    I am following your blog. Hope you will follow back. xxx Keep in touch
    My blog new post click & comment

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Hina...Now followng :)

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  7. You a doing a wonderful job

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous1:10 pm

    Hi Dobby, can one just use normal palm oil for this? Tnx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anon! No you can't use palm oil for this. This is because the palmnut Juice is denser and thicker than palm oil which is extracted from the juice itself.

      Delete
  9. Do you have to finish this soup in one day? or can it be frozen? thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure it can be frozen. Here's a tip though, before adding the vegetables remove the soup you intend saving in a separate bowl and freeze. when you are ready to use, simply chop fresh leaves into it while re-heating.

      Delete
  10. chidimma1:30 pm

    love this blog so much. Dobby pls i need a recipe for white sauce.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chidinma, which of the white sauces. Do you mean GRAVY SAUCE???

      Delete
    2. chidimma4:08 pm

      Yes ma'am

      Delete
    3. Ok, the link is there. Just click on GRAVY SAUCE??? above

      Delete
  11. Hi Dobby can I use canned Palm fruit extract for this recipe as I live abroad and can't get Palm fruit where I live. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you can Dee. Just add some water to make it a little bit runny and start move to step 5 after cooking your meat.

      Delete
  12. Hi Dobby,

    Can I use Palm fruit extract? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes you can use palm fruit extract dee.

      Delete
  13. Rapunzel10:40 am

    Hi dobby, Pls do a recipe for ofe nsala

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rapunzel, Here's the recipe for Ofe Nsala

      Delete

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