Ofe Owerri simply translates to Owerri Soup. You would think that, being recognised as an Owerri local delicacy, the ingredients and recipe would be standard. Well, that’s not the case. There are variations of recipes for the Ofe Owerri meal, most especially debates about the vegetables used; some say ugwu and uziza, others say ugwu and okazi. However, the soup is delicious and will do amazing things to your taste buds.
An assortment of Meats
1 piece of Stockfish
1/2 – 1 piece of Smoked fish (depending on the size) – Asa fish, or what the Yoruba’s call “eja osan”
1 cup of Red Crayfish – the big smoked variety
1 cup of Crayfish
1 handful of Isam (periwinkles) – if you can source
A couple of snails – if you can source
1 bunch of Ugwu leaves – chopped
2 bunches of Uziza leaves (chopped)- these come packed really small
Dry pepper – use as per your spicy tolerance level
7 tubers of Ede (cocoyam) – the small variety
1 wrap of Ogiri Okpei
2 cooking spoons of Palm Oil
- Season and boil the meats. Add a strong flavoured smoked fish to the pot, shortly before the meats have softened, to give the stock extra depth of flavour. Get it right from here and you will not need salt or seasoning cube by the tail end of cooking. This time I added a big piece of stockfish and red crayfish.
- Boil the Cocoyam in lots of water for 10 – 15 minutes. Do NOT add salt. Afterwards, pierce with a fork, it should go straight through. Take it off the heat, and let it cool down. Once it is warm enough to touch, gently peel the skin off the cocoyam and pound in a small mortar if you have one. Otherwise chop into small bits and use a blender or food processor. Add hot water in spoonful bits, to allow the machine combine it properly. You only need a little water, because you want a thick cocoyam paste, which will be used to thicken the soup.
- Once the contents of the pot of meat, fish and crayfish have softened, taste the stock and be sure you are happy with it. Add 2 tablespoons of dry pepper and let it combine with the stock for a minute or two. Add the Palm oil and wrap of Ogiri.
- 4.Once the palm oil is in, make sure it dissolves into the stock almost completely. You need at least 3 – 5 minutes for this to happen. If you still have big patches of palm oil floating on top, the palm oil will have a curdling taste on your tongue. Taste the stock, you should taste the ogiri and the palm oil by now. Add the crayfish – i rinse mine with water to remove dirt, and roughly blend.
- Using a tablespoon or your fingers, drop in portions of the cocoyam paste into the bubbling stock. Once you have everything in, lower the heat and watch the coco yam paste dissolve into the stock and thicken it. You will also notice a colour change – a light shade of Orange. If you are adding anything else to the soup, now is the time to add it. e.g. snails or periwinkles. If the soup is too thick, add beef stock, if you don’t have any, add water. Be careful not to drown the soup though and taste afterwards.
- Once the coco yam paste has dissolved completely, add the uziza leaves, shredded smoked fish and stir. Wait for a minute or two, you should smell the uziza leaves, then add the Ugwu leaves and stir. Still with the heat lowered, let the vegetables cook for 3 – 5 minutes, and you are done.