Ekpang is a meal that belongs on a platform by itself! Do not argue.
There has never been and will never be a meal like Ekpang! Do not argue.
Ekpang will stick by your side (and gut and hips) when everyone else leaves. Do not argue!
If it was legal to marry food, i'd marry Ekpang but then i'd have to eat it and that would be weird and...nevermind, you get the picture.
This meal is served to royalty, at special occasions and used to prepare brides for marriage in the aptly named Fattening Room. It belongs to the Efik and Ibibio people, but my village is close enough (Ohafia) that it is also our delicacy. Praise be to God!
Do you know how much you have to love a meal this traditional that you would move to the States and research other names for water yam and track it down to a Chinese (or is it Vietnamese) grocery store where it is known as Khoai Mo? Yeah, i love Ekpang!
It is time consuming, technical, but oh so worth it. I will do my best to make this as simple as possible.
If you're on a diet, please leave now. You'll be notified when i post a salad recipe.
Still here? Cool, lets get fat... Summer body season is over, cuffing season is here!
Water Yam or Cocoa Yam
Broad Leaf Spinach or Ugu Leaf
3 Seasoning Cubes
Salt & Pepper
Before you start, season and cook your meat and catfish (catfish because it takes a longer time to cook, if you decide to use tilapia or any other kind of fish, you won't need to pre-cook it). Take the meat out of the meat stock and set aside.
Peel water yam, wash and cut into big enough sizes to fit your palm firmly.
Grate yam... Please be careful, yam is slippery and graters are sharp.
Tip #1: Water yam itches! to protect your hands, you could coat your hands with some vegetable or palm oil to provide a protective barrier between your skin and the yam.
Pick your spinach/ugu leaf off the stem and wash clean...
With the front of the leaf on your palm and the back facing you, put a little bit of grated yam onto the leaf and roll it up gently but firmly until wrapped up.
Place into the pot with the flap side that you used to seal it down, so as to keep it from unraveling. Continue until you've wrapped up all of the yam. It is a long and tiresome task and you might get tempted to add more yam to the leaf...don't! It will not wrap properly, it will come apart while cooking and you won't get the desired result.
As you wrap, you can season between layers, not necessary but you could do this to ensure even distribution of ingredients.
When all the wrapping is done, pat yourself on the back, the hard part is over.
Add onions, crayfish, pepper, periwinkle, snail...
...catfish and goat meat...
Reheat your stock to a boil and pour into the pot until it comes nearly to the level of the food and cook on medium to high heat.
DO NOT STIR!
If you try to mix it now, everything will unravel.
Cook with the pot covered for the first 20 minutes, as the yam cooks, it will firm up and adhere to the leaves and won't open up.
Tip #2: If you do not want to add meat or fish or already have them cooked and don't have any stock, don't worry, just use boiling hot water. You will still get the desired flavor, it is all about seasoning.
Now you can stir. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and seasoning cubes then add palm oil, generously. Add some more chopped onions, if you're like me and really like that onion flavor. Mix and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.
Serve up and enjoy!
It tastes even better on Day 2!