Ofe Owerri, is a very popular traditional vegetable soup from the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria. “Ofe” means soup and “Owerri” is the capital of Imo state in South Eastern Nigeria, so as you can guess already, Ofe Owerri is peculiar to the people of Owerri especially.
Ofe Owerri is usually prepared with four different vegetable leaves, Okazi, Ugu and Uziza, Oha, although Uziza, which is quite aromatic and Oha aren’t as popular as Ugu and Okazi. I’ll be using Ugu, Uziza and Okazi. I couldn’t source fresh leaves so I’ll be using frozen Ugu, dried Okazi and little Uziza. My major problem with using frozen or dried leaves is you don’t get to control the size or consistency of the leaves, mine were too thinly sized.
Another major ingredient used in the preparation of this delicacy is Cocoyam which serves as a thickener. You’ll need to use the red Cocoyam, though I couldn’t get enough red ones so had to mix with some white ones (Ede Ofe), still turned out OK anyway. If you can’t source Cocoyam, you can use Cocoyam powder, all you need to do is mix it with hot water and make a paste like you’re making pounded yam, then add to your Ofe Owerri, alternatively, you can use Achi.
600g Assorted meats (Snail, Beef, Goat meat, Ponmo, Shaki, Cow leg are ideal)
2 Cooking Spoon Palm oil
1.5 Cup washed and sliced Ugu leaves
1 Cup wash and thinly sliced Okazi leaves
3-4 Uziza Leaves (Optional)
3-4 Medium Size Cocoyam (Ede)
1- 2 Smoked Fish
2-3 Stockfish/ Stockfish Head (Okporoko)
3 Tablespoons Ground Crayfish
1.5 Cup Smoked Prawns
1 Tablespoon Ogiri
2 Tablespoons Ground Dry pepper
Salt to taste
Start by boiling your meats with a generous amount of water. Start with the tougher meats like Cow leg, Shaki, Ponmo first,. When they’re slightly tender, add beef or other softer meats…
The stock from the meats will serve as the base for your Ofe Owerri, so make sure it is well seasoned. Well seasoned stock will save you the hassle of adding more salt or seasoning later. I used just salt, Aromat seasoning and two Knorr Chicken cubes.
When all the meats are tender, add the Stockfish, leave to cook till soft. You should end up with 4-5 cups of stock….
While the meats are boiling, boil the Cocoyam with the skin on, do not add salt, boil till tender. This should take roughly 15 minutes on medium heat…
When the Cocoyams are soft, gently peel the skin off and pound till smooth in a mortar. Alternatively, chop them into small chunks, add some hot water then purée in your electric blender till smooth, set aside…
If you’re using dried leaves, soak in water hot water for 2 minutes to remove all traces of sand and dirt. Also soak the smoked fish to remove traces of dirt.
When the meats and fish are all soft, add crayfish, smoked prawns, then add the ground pepper. Leave to boil for 2-3 minutes, then reduce the heat to low….
Now, add the blended/pounded Cocoyam into the stock in small quantities and stir thoroughly, be careful not to add too much Cocoyam, you’re aiming for a fluid consistency. Then again, you can stick to your preferred consistency, I prefer mine a tad but thicker, semi fluid….
Stir and combine, leave to cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the Palm Oil….
My Ofe Owerri kept thickening up like no man’s business, had to keep adding more stock. I’d added too much Ede….
Stir and combine, add the Ogiri, leave to cook for 3 minutes, ensure the palm oil is well combined. Taste for salt and seasoning, adjust if necessary. Instead of going overboard with spices, try adding more crayfish instead, this will up the taste of your Ofe Owerri really well….
Now, add the smoked fish, you can shred it and add to the soup if you prefer. Leave to incorporate into the soup for 2 minutes. I forgot to add mine until the tail end.
Then add the washed and sliced Okazi leaves, leave to cook for 2 minutes…
Add the Ugu and Uziza leaves, if you’re using frozen Ugu, switch the heat off and continue to simmer with the residual heat for a further 3 minutes. If you’re using fresh Ugu, leave to cook for 3 minutes, then simmer with the residual heat for 2 minutes…
And it’s ready…
Enjoy with Pounded Yam, Garri (Eba) or any swallow of your choice…
Culled from Sisi Jemimah Kitchen Recipe Page—–Patronize them
Picture representation by Dobby,s Signature