Okay, so I know the last time I posted, I shared some background information on Egusi soup, possible origins, and the inspiration behind why it is often coined one of the BEST Nigerian dishes. This time, I made it myself, y’all. Like, I really made it myself. It only took me about a month to build up the courage and just go for it, so of COURSE I documented it.
Just for clarity, I promise this is NOT a food blog, lol! I just can’t stop eating everything I see, and I have to share. My next few posts will be on relationships (which I NEVER write about) family, national attire, acha, and Psalms 1 in no particular order.
Well, let’s just jump right on in. If you’re here because you just want the recipe and you’re willing to miss out on all this extra photographic magic, here’s the link to the written recipe BUT, there’s no fun in that. Right?
Let's just look at how many ingredients went into this madness of a soup...
4 cups Egusi seeds
1/4 cup Palm Oil
2 cups (or so) chopped beef
2 cups (or so) Shaki or cow hide
2 tbsp crayfish
1/2 fresh catfish chopped into bite size pieces
Smoked fish (I'm not sure how to measure this, I used 6 fish)
3 cups of spinach or bitter leaves
2 chicken stock cubes (or fresh chicken broth, it's soooooo much better)
Salt and pepper
Cayenne, because Louisiana
3 garlic cloves
1 white onion
1 green onion
3 small tomatoes
That in itself would be reason enough for me not to cook this, but I said I wanted to give it a try so a good friend took me to the market and we got EVERYTHING I needed (and of course some fabric because why not).
I recommend taking the time necessary to prep your foods before starting. Egusi cooks fast, and the last thing you want is to be chopping your life away and smell the main ingredient burn to ashes… I speak from experience…harsh, depressing experience lol.
Chop the beef and shaki (cow hide) into bite-size pieces, add a small chopped onion and begin to let that cook down on the stove. I added 2c of water, the chicken stock, and just kept an eye on it while I did these next few steps. Look how beautiful. My hands smelled like the seaside and I loved it.
Take the smoked/dry fish and soak it in a bowl of water. About 2 cups. It
doesn’t need to fill the bowl or cover the fish completely. This will get it
soft enough to break up and add to the soup. The smell was the absolute worst, and honestly, I don’t know how I took this picture.
These two steps are pretty simple and quick, remember your meat on the stove! Using a food processor or blender, go ahead and chop the egusi seeds
into a slight powder substance. Chop your onions, tomato, and peppers and blend them as well. It should be a pretty thick salsa-like consistency. Save a little onion for later. Set it aside.
Blend your crayfish into a powder- like consistency, and set it aside. Crayfish was something new to me. I honestly didn’t know what it was and when he grabbed at the market I wanted him to put it back.
Now, let’s cook!
Add the palm oil to a deep skillet. I prefer not using a really large pot, or
a shallow pan. I switched pots mid-cooking, and I’m here to
save you time and dishes. In a separate bowl, mix the Egusi seeds and the onions from earlier and stir gently with your hands. It’ll be pretty thick. That’s okay.
Firs, add the salso mix to the oil, then slowly add the Egusi mixture to the HEATED palm oil and begin frying. Check your meat from earlier, and be sure it isn’t burning…take a guess why I keep saying that… (not pictured)
Allow the Egusi to completely fry, then add the meats and stock. The first image was when I was tempted to add the meat, the second one is when I actually decided to. I’m glad I waited, because that small change in consistency made ALL the difference. In the second one, you can see where it started to burn-it cooks fast-gas stoves don’t play, but it did fine after I gave it some tender lovin’.
While this cooked a bit, I began breaking apart the dry fish and de-boning the fresh fish as fast as my fat fingers would allow.
Now, add ALL the meats, and the stock from the beef and allow that to cook down for 25-30 mins, stirring continuously. I think that’s what I’m noticing most about Nigerian meals, they take work. These women cook much larger meals for their families and it legit felt like I worked my arms out by the end of the recipe. Hats off to the Naija queens and kings putting in work in the kitchen.
During the last ten minutes, I added the chopped fresh fish and chopped
spinach, and during the last 5 minutes I added the crayfish.
Let’s have a moment of silence to acknowledge all of the dishes I’ve used thus far…
I washed them before I ate because it hurt my heart to look at this, lol
While the soup cooked down, I went ahead and began preparing the swallow to have with it. I used Poundo. Nigerians, don’t judge me. I haven’t mastered the art of actually pounding yam. Baby steps. I also danced my life away to H.E.R. because if you know me, you KNOW, I seldom cook in silence.
Scoop you up some in a bowl, and eat with any tuwo/swallow of your liking. Most people I’ve read prefer pounded yam, but I prefer tuwo rice, unfortunately, I didn’t have either… so the fake stuff it was.
This song is probably one of my favorites from this E.P. (act like you care).
Honestly, I didn’t anticipate that this blog would be this long, but I really have enjoyed writing it. It took a couple hours with links and images, but this was probably the most therapeutic quiet I’ve had since I made the soup. Loneliness sometimes creeps at the door and sneaks up on me when I least expect it, but lately, I’ve enjoyed times like this. I’ve enjoyed the times to share, cook, talk(yes, talk), read, and just write by myself.
Well, here’s the final product and a final look at the chef, lol. I love creating, especially in the kitchen. If you’ve read all the way through, thank you. If not, thank you for visiting. I love being in Nigeria. I love learning so many new things, and I just love the authenticity of this culture. I’ve heard some people say some pretty harsh things about the “people here”, but I’ve seen nothing short of magic.
Thank you, again, for reading.
I love you.