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Where do I start from with this post, Bitter leaf soup or ofe onugbu as popularly called? Nigeria is very blessed with different dishes but it surprises me that many of us don’t even know the type of dish our next-door neighbour fancies. We can’t just be bothered by other cultural food other than our own. It is high time we started to mature our palate and try other food than our usual rice and beans with palm oil stew (talking from a Yoruba girl perspective). Growing up, I looked back and thought I didn’t try for myself o, food wise I mean.
Bitter leaf Soup
Anyways, that was then. Haha… This girl has grown up now and so is her palate. Thanks to all my friends from other cultural heritage. Today I am dedicating this bitter leaf soup (ofe onugbu) to my Igbo friends.
I was on the phone to my friend the other day and I told her I am cooking bitter leaf soup but I don’t have ogiri, she just told me don’t bother. She said if you give a non-Ibo man maybe he would eat but an Ibo person would definitely not like it and that got me thinking for a minute. I told myself, if I’m cooking bitter leaf soup, I better do it right. So, to my Igbo people, I hope I have done you proud on this one. Enjoy
1 wrap of ogiri
dried cod (panla) washed
Cayenne pepper (use according to preference)
4 medium size cocoyam pieces (substitute with oat or potato flour)
500g cooked assorted beef, stock reserved (do not use curry and thyme)
2-3tbsp ground crayfish
1/3 cup Dried Shrimps
1/3 Cup palm oil
300g Bitter leaves, chopped and washed
- Bitter leaf as the name implies is very bitter so you will need to get rid of the bitterness by adding enough water to the leaves and squeezing it between your palms. You will need to wash severally with fresh clean water until you can no longer taste the bitterness. You may add some salt to wash the leaves, we do this in Yoruba land to likewise get rid of the bitterness.
- I also heard that you can bring the leaves to boil for about 15 minutes for the same results as above.
How to make bitter leaf soup (ofe onugbu)
Boil assorted beef with salt, seasoning and onions. (No to thyme and curry) reserve stock. I like using clear stock in cooking so I always sieve the bits and bob from my stock. If this doesn’t float your boat, feel free to leave your stock with the meat.
Bring cocoyam to boil with skin on till tender, peel skin off cocoyam and pound till you get a smooth paste. You can also purée the cocoyam with a blender just add warm water when blending to form a smooth paste
Place a pan containing cooked assorted beef on medium heat; bring to boil for about 3-4 minutes (add water to the meat if needed to achieve the desired thickness of how you want the soup to be)
Add smoked fish, dried shrimps, palm oil and cayenne pepper
Add ogiri (the most important part of this dish, you can’t substitute it with any other thing. After you’ve added the ogiri, check for salt. Trust me if your beef is well seasoned you would not be needing salt again for this soup. I didn’t add any more salt to the dish; I only added 1 cube of seasoning)
Continue cooking till ogiri dissolves in the soup and you should also be able to taste it, add pounded cocoyam paste in bits to the soup, and don’t stir just yet. Cover the pot with a lid and allow the cocoyam to dissolve in the soup. Once this is achieved, stir together and check for salt and seasoning
Add the washed bitter leaf to the soup, stir till well combined. Reduce the heat and allow soup to simmer.
Serve Bitter leaf soup with swallow of choice preferably yellow garri or pounded yam
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