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Isi ewu recipe - How to make isi ewu (Sauced goat head)

If you're tired of watching your hubby go to Isi ewu joints (restaurants) with his friends during the weekends, not to worry, i've got the perfect recipe with step-by-step pictures on how to prepare the authentic isi ewu right at home to destroy those plans while you pocket that 2,500k they willingly give to the isi ewu sellers. Here's is an unspoken secret; no man both old and young can resist isi ewu.
Isi ewu "Goat head" is a popular delicacy which originates from the eastern part of Nigeria. It is similar to nkwobi but slightly different due to the type and part of meat used. It's made with goat head and every single part is edible including the brain. Usually, i buy the medium sized goat head with four legs of the goat for 1000 naira. The head, i usually use for Isi ewu while the legs is usually used for nkwobi in addition to cow legs. If you're buying the head alone, you could get it for as low as N500...See, cheap :D. Plus, it's best eaten with bare hands with a glass of palm wine by the side.

• Prep Time:  40 minutes
• Cook Time: 45 minutes - 1 hour
• Serves:        3 people

• 1 medium sized Goat head 
• 4 Seasoning cubes 
• 2 Ehuru seeds “Monodora myristica”(Calabash Nutmeg) 
• 8 Cooking spoons palm oil 
• 1 small sized Edible Potash(akaun/ kanwa)/ 1 tbsp. ground potash 
• 2 tbsp. Ground crayfish 
• 2 Fresh red scotch bonnet pepper/ 2 tbsp. Ground chili pepper 
• Salt (To taste) 
• 1 cup Ugba (also Known as Ukpaka) 
• Water 
For Garnish::: 
•1 Medium sized Onion 
•10 Utazi leaves (Gongronema latifolium)

Before preparing Isi ewu you have to prepare the ingredients. Here's how to do it.

(a) Ehuru/Ehu seeds: This is what gives the dish its authentic local flavor. It cannot be substituted for the normal Nutmeg. To make it easy to remove from the shell, it could either be pan roasted or roasted in open flame

.• Pan roast: Place the ehuru seeds on an empty dry pan and leave to heat while tossing once in a while on dry heat till you hear it crack open. Peel the skin and place the the peeled ehuru in a mortar. Pound and set aside

•Open flame roast: Place the ehuru seeds on a dry burner on medium heat. leave for a while till it chars. Crack open and place the the peeled ehuru in a mortar. Pound and set aside

(b). Potash: This is the special ingredient that makes the palmoil Curdle and change colour. To prepare, place the powdered potash in a bowl. Add some water and stir. What you need is the liquid and not the residue. Just stir and set aside. An alternative to potash is Ngu which is more Local than potash but its quite rare and is mostly found in remote areas.

(c) Utazi leaves: Utazi is Used as a garnish for this meal. It has a Bitter taste and gives the dish a wonderful Bitter flavor. It's Used sparingly though since most people cannot stand the bitter taste. To prepare, wash and chop -Set aside

(d) Ugba: Usually, isi ewu on its own is tasty but when oil bean seed 'Ugba' is added, it becomes simply mouth watering due to the additional flavor it gives the dish. To prepare, wash the ugba with clean water and set aside

(e) Onions: This is Usually used as a Garnish and is eaten raw. To prepare, wash and slice the onion into rings - Set aside.

Step 1: Before preparing Isi ewu you have to note that it's difficult to cut up Goat head before cooking so it’s usually cooked first to make it easier for the parts to be torn apart later on and sauced.

Goat head is usually very dirty when you buy it so you have to take time to clean it properly. To do this, you get a new razor blade and scrape the outer part of the goat head properly. Then, you slash open the sides of the mouth of the goat head. This makes it easier to pull the jaws apart exposing the tongue and other inner parts of the head. Scrape the tongue also with the blade to remove the remnant meal left behind before the goat was killed. Soak the head in salted hot water for about 20 minutes and wash properly with clean water making sure you focus on the teeth, tongue, ears and every other part of the head. Use a new iron sponge if necessary. 

Step 2:
Place the washed head in a pot Add some chopped onion, 2 seasoning cubes and salt to taste. Cook for about 30-45 minutes till it gets soft. Make sure the liquid left in the pot is minimal and concentrated to ensure the seasoning gets into the skull. Once it’s properly done, all you have to do is squeeze the skin off the head and it will come off easily exposing the skull -Set this aside

Remove the skin, ears and tongue from the head, chop into smaller pieces set aside. With a cutlass or hammer, break the skull, remove the brain and set aside also. it should be whole and intact after being boiled with the skull. You could pound the brain into a smooth paste or chop it into smaller pieces...the choice is yours. 

Step 3: In a Medium sized pot/pan, Heat the palm oil till it gets a little bit hot (Not bleached). Gently sieve in the dissolved potash liquid making sure you don't pour in the residue. Ensure there are no lumps in the mixture by stirring thoroughly.

Step 4: Keep stirring till the Oil Turns bright yellow and thickens.

Step 5: Add the ground ehuru, Pepper, Crayfish to the sauce and mix.

Step 6: Gently add the Ugba, pour the cooked goat head chops into the sauce (with the meat stock and brain). Stir Very well and place the pot on the Burner and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes

Step 7: Dish Out into the traditional Isi ewu bowl and garnish with the sliced onion rings and Utazi leaves. 

Serve as an appetizer with a Chilled drink or a glass of palmwine. Don't be shy to dig in with your bare hands.
Yep! That's the tongue...my favorite part :D

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  1. Dobby this is a wonderful recipe. Many thanks. I don't think I can touch a goat head so someone can do that for me while I do the rest

  2. what a tiresome procedure! no wonder its eaten outside more often! Thanks for sharing

  3. Really tiresome I tell you. I will have to get someone to do the cutting I guess and stock up in the freezer. I can only say a big well done this is really an interesting post. Wow I just opened my mouth. Na wa o

  4. Hmmm! no wonder people don't make this at home.....abeg i no fit!

    1. i'm sure you'd get used to it after making it the first time

  5. Hi Dobi I don't if you please reply this. I want to learn how to eat with fork and knife efficiently especially Rica, All the vid from YouTube have nothing on rice. Pls help


    1. lol! Nice to have you here okpy'm :D

  7. Pls I cannot comment on ur blog and I dnt knw y.but here is my  question.can I use d same receipe for isiewu for cow head too? Pls reply I need d answer  asap.thanks

    1. Yes you can use this same recipe for cow head. Although isi ewu means Goat head.

  8. Just an additional note for those thinking that the procedure is too tedious........the goat seller can cut the goat head into pieces to reduce the stress of having to do that on your own...so all u have to do is to wash it properly when u get home and use it to cook your delicious isi-ewu...speaking from experience

  9. Nne...daalu! A.k.a thank you!!!!

  10. You are really talented Dobby! Thanks for this recipe...I'm definitely making this soon!

    1. thank you too Adaeze. Do keep us posted k :)

  11. Replies
    1. U can remove d hairs by roasting over a wire gauze n use knife to peel.then wash wt iron sponge n take to mkt fr d cutting or use ur matchet.it's tedious I must warn.whn i was growing up,i dread doing dat.

  12. Thanks Dobby, this is the best recipe for isi ewu I have seen online. Very detailed. Keep it up.

  13. Thanks Dobby!Will surely try this out today.I'm off to d market...lol

  14. You forgot to mention that the goat's brain (a little white mashed up substance) is cooked and added to the sauce to thicken it

  15. I prepared this tonight following your recipe and it tasted amazing.quite easy to prepare too(i cut up the goat head at the market though and washed it thoroughly). Thank you and God bless

    1. You;re welcome Anon. Glad it turned out fine :)

  16. Thanks for the details. Had goat head in my freezer for months.


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