The Best Ofe Owerri You’ll Ever Eat
In the world of rich Igbo recipes, Ofe Owerri would be king (Ukwa would be Queen, but that’s a recipe for another day). This soup is as rich as they come.
Ofe Owerri is a delicacy among some of the Igbos, and it’s no wonder. It’s not an über affordable recipe to have often, and in most homes, it’s reserved for special occasions; not only due to the costs associated, but for the fact that the best Ofe Owerri shouldn’t be frozen.
To enjoy Ofe Owerri, the vegetables shouldn’t be cooked to oblivion, they should still preserve some modicum of freshness, and freezing the soup will negate that. So, the best Ofe Owerri is made and enjoyed the same day it is made.
All that is in theory though, I froze this and still enjoyed eating it the next day. I simply added some fresh urge leaves after heating the soup, to lend some freshness to it.
The main requirement for the best Ofe Owerri is that every mouthful should contain vegetables, meat, fish, etc. My mother-in-law introduced me to this soup and, I must admit, I was astounded by the shopping list we took to the market for just this soup. My astonishment was replaced by dancing and glee when my bowl of soup sat before me, with all the orisirisi (assorted meats and fish) swimming in the bowl.
I modified my mother-in-law’s recipe by reducing the palm oil I used, adding uziza seeds, using cocoyam instead of achi, and by using 3 vegetables instead of 4. She added Okazi leaves to the 3 I used here. Feel free to do that, if you like.
When I made up my mind to make this, I was a bit scared because, having tasted my mother-in-law’s recipe (and HACE having tasted it too), I didn’t want my recipe to fall short.
All my doubts were firmly laid to rest when I tasted this. OMGosh! I quickly called my Mum and Mum-in-law to tell them I had accomplished this feat.
I’d like to share the recipe with you to help remove some of the guesswork associated with Nigerian cooking today (most of us cook by taste, and sometimes results aren’t consistent, especially when we have to give someone our recipe).
Ingredients (this serves 10)
2kg of goat, cut into 2-inch pieces
5 large snails, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces
500g of kanda/pomo/cow skin washed and chopped into bite sized pieces
500g of Okporoko/Panla/Dried cod, softened
500g of dried fish, softened
1 cup of Oporo/smoked prawns
1 cup of ground dried crayfish
2 wraps of ogili
1 minced atarodo
1 tablespoon of ground dry pepper
1 teaspoon of ground Uziza seeds/Ashanti pepper
1kg of cocoyam
1/3 cup of palm oil
4 stock cubes
2 cups of sliced ugu leaves
2 cups of sliced Ora/Oha leaves
1 cup of sliced uziza leaves
1 tablespoon of salt, divided
1 teaspoon of salt
Wash cocoyam well and boil, unpeeled, till very soft. Pound till smooth (use a blender if you don’t want to pound).
In another pot, boil snails and pomo with a teaspoon of salt, for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse.
Put goat in a pot over medium-low heat. Add 2 stock cubes, 1/2 tablespoon of salt, and the minced atarodo. Stir and cover the pot. Don’t add any liquids, the goat will start to cook in its own juices.
After 10 minutes, add the snails, pomo, cod, and dried fish. Add 3 cups of water, the remaining stock cubes, crayfish, ground dry pepper, and ground uziza seeds. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil.
Add ogili, stir well and taste. At this point, you can add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of salt, if you like.
Add the cocoyam and palm oil. Stir and cook for 7 minutes.
Add the oporo and the ora/oha leaves. Stir and simmer for 1 minute.
Add the uziza leaves, stir and simmer for 1 minute.
Remove the pot from heat, and, immediately, add the ugu leaves. Stir, nd let the residual heat cook to perfection.