Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Ofe Onugbu (Bitter Leaf Soup)

Ofe Onugbu is a dish from the Eastern part of Nigeria and is particularly popular among the Igbos. It is a dish that is native to Anambra state in Nigeria.
Ofe Onugbu can be literally translated to mean ‘Bitter Leaf Soup,’ as bitter leaves are the primary (and only) vegetable involved in the cooking of this dish. Another ingredient that makes Ofe Onugbu into the soup that it is, is Cocoyam.
I love bitter leaves and it’s probably one of my favorite native vegetables and so, by extension, I quite enjoy Ofe Onugbu. 
To learn how to make Ofe Onugbu, here’s what you’ll need:


  • 4-6 medium pieces skinless goat meat
  • 4-6 pieces medium pieces honeycomb tripe/shaki
  • 4-6 medium pieces cow skin/kpomo
  • 3-4 Knorr cubes OR 6-8 Maggi cubes
  • 1 cup smoked catfish bits
  • 1 cup dried stockfish/kpanla/okporoko bits
  • 4-6 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 2 cups dried whole crayfish
  • 1-2 cups fresh bitter leaves
  • 3-4 cups Palm Oil
  • 1-2 cups dried cocoyam flour/ede
  • 1 small red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
1. Rinse goat meat and shaki/pomo. Transfer to separate pots
2. Slice 1/2 red onion & 3 garlic cloves into pot with goat meat. Add 2 Knorr cubes and water. Let boil over medium heat for 45 mins to an hour. Replenish water, don’t let it dry out

3. Slice remainder onion and garlic, add to shaki and kpomo. Add water, let boil over medium heat for 45 mins to an hour. Replenish water when its drying out
4. Lightly rinse stockfish, transfer to a bowl filled with warm/hot water. Set aside, let soak for 30 minutes to soften
5. Add smoked catfish to bowl filled with warm/hot water. Set aside, let soak for 30 minutes to soften
6. While meats are boiling and fish, soaking, transfer dried crayfish to sieve and rinse lightly
7. Transfer crayfish from sieve to blender using a spoon, add scotch bonnet peppers
8. Add 1-1.5 cups water to blender
9. Blend mixture, set aside
10. Return to soaking stockfish and drain water
11. Using kitchen scissors or a knife, cut stockfish into smaller pieces *don’t discard stockfish bones*
12. Return to soaking smoked catfish, drain water
13. Using your fingers, kitchen scissors or a knife, tear/cut up smoked catfish into smaller pieces *don’t discard bones and skin*
14. Add some water to a pot, add smoked catfish & stockfish, let boil 10-15 minutes. Drain liquid once boiled, set aside
15. Return to boiling meats. At this point, goat meat, shaki and kpomo should be soft and you should have enough meat stock!

16. Drain and discard stock from shaki/kpomo. Keep stock from goat meat. Transfer shaki/kpomo to pot with goat meat
17. Over low-medium heat, add the blended crayfish and scotch bonnet peppers
18. Stir thoroughly. Add 1 Knorr cube OR 2 Maggi cubes. Stir thoroughly
19.  Add smoked catfish and stockfish to mixture
20. Stir in thoroughly. Let cook over low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes
21. While contents of pot are simmering, transfer bitter leaves to a bowl, (drain excess liquid from packaging) and add some water, leave to soak for 5-10 minutes
22. After soaking, rinse, cut of long stems and lightly chop vegetables, set aside
23. Return to pot with meats, reduce heat to low, using a serving spoon, scoop ede/cocoyam flour, add to pot*see #8 in notes*
24. Keep adding dried cocoyam flour in small amounts and stirring, till quantity recipe calls for is used up. *see #6 & #7 in notes*
25. Once done adding, increase heat to medium, let boil for 15 minutes
26. Add chopped bitter leaves to pot
27. Stir in the leaves thoroughly till evenly distributed
28. Add last Knorr cube
29. Stir Knorr cube in thoroughly. Still over medium heat, let boil for 5-10 minutes
30. Add Palm Oil
31. Stir palm oil in thoroughly till evenly distributed. Let soup simmer 5 more minutes
ofe onugbu_bitter leaf soup

Ingredient Info:

  1. Bitter Leaf is known as ‘Onugbu’ in Igbo and ‘Ewuro’ in Yoruba. It does have a slightly bitter taste to it, but not so overpowering that you can’t enjoy your meal.
  2. Bitter leaves are also purported to have numerous health benefits, being that it is high in Zinc. I’m not aware of any studies done, so don’t quote me on that!
  3. Ede is the dried version of cocoyam. I get it from an African store owned by a Nigerian. I doubt African oriented stores run by Mexicans will have it. You’d have to really narrow down the stores in your area. In Nigeria, you might come across it much easier.

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1 comment:

  1. Omg this original food fron west african.