Almost every part of Nigeria has their way of making Egusi Soup; from changes in the entire cook process to the vegetables used and even the form the Egusi takes in the soup, Egusi is extremely versatile.
Egusi is not exclusively Nigerian though, it is eaten across West Africa, from Ghana to Mali to Togo, Cameroon etc...
Egusi is protein rich dried melon seed, that has been peeled and ground finely. It can thicken your soup or even be balled up into spicy lumps with pepper and onions and added to a light soup.
This recipe will be a simple and straightforward one, and in the future i will post more more styles of cooking it. This is the 2nd Egusi Soup post on this blog.
Here's what you'll need:
1Kg Goat Meat
1Kg Assorted Meat (Optional)
2 Cups of Egusi
1 Dried/Smoked Fish - De-boned and cleaned
250Grms Stock Fish - Washed
1 Cup of Ground Crayfish
2 Cups Chopped Spinach ( you can also use vegetables like okazi, uziza, scent leaf and bitter leaf, just use a lot less- about 1/2 cup should do for all except okazi, as these have strong flavors).
1 Cup Palm Oil
Salt & Pepper
Step 1 is the most important step as this is where the flavor of your soup is built.
Season your meat with salt, pepper, seasoning cubes and chopped onions and enough water to come up to the level of the meat. You want to also add your stock fish at this time so that it flavors your meat as well and it has enough time to break down.
Tip 1: Do not pour too much water in your meat as you will not be able to drain it and you do not want a light soup. You want your water to just come up to the level of the meat, not cover it.
Tip 2: Cook tougher cuts of meat first, when the meat is half cooked then add other cuts such as beef. For those who don't know, if you choose to add shaki (tripe) or cow leg (beef trotters, yes, we eat every part of the animal) to your soup, make sure you cook it down first as it gets extremely tough. Even if you are using a pressure cooker, cook tougher cuts first and then add other meat cuts. If you put them all in at the same time, by the time they are cooked, your other cuts of meat would have turned to mush!
When your meat is all cooked your stock would have reduced by about a third, do not add additional water yet.
If you're using snails, periwinkle or any other fresh fish or shellfish, this is when to add them as they do not require long cook time.
Adding egusi can be done in 2 ways; you can either pour your egusi into a bowl, add a little water and mix into a slurry and then pour into the stock, or you can pour directly into the stock. The former is for newbies who do not want to find clumps in their soup.
Turn heat to medium low and mix properly, allow to cook for 5 minutes.
Next comes the palm oil. Add, stir and allow the oil to cook for 7-10 minutes, when the oil is cooked it will turn from a bright orange to a more subdued shade.
This is when i taste for seasoning and adjust as needed with either more salt or pepper, crayfish or seasoning cubes.
If your soup is too thick, add some water or stock, half a cup at a time until you achieve your desired consistency. Take note that the soup will thicken a wee bit as it cools.
The last step is adding the vegetable(s) of your choice. Your soup is cooked at this point, so a good mix to distribute the vegetables evenly is all you need before turning off the heat.
Egusi can be eaten with pretty much all "swallows" such as eba, pounded yam, fufu, or even with white rice - the white rice combo is one of my faves. Nigerian soups can also be combined with others to give the best of both worlds, here i have it with Afang Soup and pounded yam.