Hi everyone, I'm here to show you how to prepare the popular melon soup (egusi) which has the popularity mostly in the Southern parts of Nigeria i.e. among the Yoruba people and some parts of the Northern states.
– Here are the required ingredients you will prepare:
• Find red palm oil (3-4 cooking spoons).
• Prepare 4-5 cups of melon seeds known as "egusi" like 600g.
• Buy a little cow meat especially its tripe known as "shake".
• 4-5 small stock Maggi seasoning cubes.
• You can find just one small ogiri open too (not really required).
• Tablespoons of ground crayfish (3).
• Salt and red pepper.
• You will need enough spinach, bitter leaf (ewuro), Nigerian pumpkin leaves.
• You also need stockfish and groundfish (dry ones).
– Here are just the two necessary devices you will need:
• A very fast gas cooker or a traditional cooking technique of using a dry plank.
• Pepper/spice grinder or a hand grinding machine which you will be used to granulate the melon seeds (egusi).
~ Notes on the aforementioned components:
• Regarding the bitter leaves to be used, you will cut the bitter leaves a bit earlier because it is a harsh vegetable that might not be fully done if added late to the ingredients most especially when using the traditional method of cooking. However, don't forget to wash away the bitterness out the bitter leaves to give a little sweet taste unless you choose the bitter taste.
• I did not add chicken with the ingredients because elders don't usually like a chicken on egusi soup, it's just common with the youth nowadays. The red meat with beef is the best meat for Nigerian most dishes cooked by stewing. And it is also the most common element used in preparing egusi from ancient times.
Meanwhile, I am not saying using chicken cannot work with the preparation. But if you used it, don't add stockfish and dry fish to it anymore because they bring out unusual aroma and taste when used together with chicken in the same Nigerian soups generally.
• You can either use the Maggi seasoning or the ogiri okpei/dadawa which is made with locust beans known as "iru" among the Yoruba tribe. But I urge you to use the ogiri okpei/dadawa (locust beans) as it brings a very aromatic taste in egusi soup and professional chefs know that.
• 3 or 4 cooking spoons of palm oil might not be sufficient later depending on the way you use it or the cooker you use to prepare the melon soup.
In egusi soup, you need a little abundance of palm oil which can make every particle of the ground melon seed turn into yellow in look. Also, if the granulated melon seeds are not well coated with enough palm oil, it will burn when you are frying them and will later result in giving you dry egusi soup with a burnt flavor.
However, if my explanation above is not clear to you about the exact quantity of palm oil you should use, then you can go for the CAKING METHOD.
– Kindly do these before you proceed in preparing the egusi soup:
You can either soak the dry fish and stockfish in a clean bowl of water for an hour to soften them or boil them for 15 minutes if you're using a very hard stockfish. But if you are using soft ones, just soak them in cool water till you can smash them with bare hands. Then, you will remove the bones in the soft stockfish and dry fish to mince them into sizeable slabs.
Grind the melon seed with a dry hand grinding mill or by other said means much closer to the time you will commence your preparation. You will also separately chop the dry pepper and the crayfish and put aside.
Chop the vegetables you want to use into tiny pieces after rinsing them.
Prepare the fish and the beef with stock cubes till they become fully done. Start from the toughest fish and meat first and add other ingredients as they are on fire.
– Here are the awaiting cooking directions:
After or before setting the gas cooker/stove to heat, you will pour the red palm oil into a dry pot. So, add the granulated melon seeds as soon as the oil in the dry pot melts. You can add the melon seeds if the oil is not thickened as far as it is translucent. Then mix and stew the ground melon seeds with oil till every particle of the melon seeds shows the yellowish or exact yellow color and lower the heat from the gas cooker for about 10 to 12 minutes.
Afterwards, add the stockfish and meat along with the water you used to cook them gradually by gradually while still blending the melon seeds. Add a bit of the stockfish and stir-fry a while till the stock finish. After that, you will see that the soup is still somehow sturdy. So to soften, add hot water and if you prefer using the bitter leaf as your vegetable, you can add it at this time.
Then cover the cooking pot and wait for almost 20-23 minutes by stirring the soup in a one-minute interval because it will burn if you don't. You can also fill up the water content when needed.
After you realize the egusi has done well, add the ground pepper and crayfish then stir. While stirring, add pumpkin leaves along with the cow stripe (shaki) and meat.
Then add salt to it and stir a little bit and you mix the salt with water if the soup is too thick. Then cover it to boil a while till you feel it is done.
Check out the clear photos of how the egusi soup will look like after full preparation;
Note: Preparation of egusi soup takes about half an hour (30 minutes) to be done in order to generate the accurate Nigerian taste and aroma.
Also, you can enjoy your egusi soup with amala, eba, agidi, semolina, fufu, two, and most perfectly with pounded yam.
[All images used in this article are all credits for google.com]
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