Ofe Owerri: Jewel of the South East

OFE Owerri is one of the most expensive Nigerian soups; it is made with assorted meat (which is different parts of cow meat), snails, dried fish and stock fish. This soup is nicknamed “jewel of the South-East” because it is one of the most expensive in Igbo land. There is even a popular Igbo song that suggests that a poor man does not eat ofe owerri.

Ofe owerri simply means Owerri soup (soup indigenous to the people of Owerri).

 

Ingredients

Cow (assorted meat)

Snails

Dry fish

Stock fish head

Sliced Uziza leaves

Sliced fluted pumpkin leaves

Seasoning

Cocoyam

Palm oil

Ogiri (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

How it is made

Start by parboiling the meat, add the seasoning on top of the meat and allow to boil for up to 10 minutes until the water is about to dry. Add about 2 cups of water and cook the meat until it is tender, add a teaspoon of salt, cover and allow simmering for 5 minutes.

Blend crayfish, wash the stock fish/dry fish with water and set aside in a plate (remember to remove the center bone/head of the fish. Wash the snails with alum or tangerine/grape juice or dry garri; you just want to get rid of the slimy fluid.

Snails are wonderful for ofe owerri. You can also add snails to Oha Soup, it tastes delicious.

Boil the cocoa yam until it is soft then remove the back and pound with mortar and pestle until it is seedless. (It would serve as the thickener)

Add about 4-6 cups of water to the already cooked meat. Add the ground crayfish, washed stock fish/dried fish.

Add red oil and allow boiling for another 10-15 minutes. Add the seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, add the washed snails, add the pounded cocoa yam, ogiri and allow to dissolve, (should take about 10 minutes), add the uziza leaves, stir and allow about 2 minutes before adding the fluted pumpkin (ugwu leaves). Allow simmering on low heat for 3-4 minutes and it’s done. One can serve with fufu, eba, semo or even pounded yam. I love it best when served with fufu.

Recipe Notes

One may need to purchase few spoons of ofor or achi as alternative thickener. Sometimes the pounded cocoyam wouldn’t thicken the soup as it should be but an additional spoon of ofor or achi would save the day.

 

Health benefit

Cocoyam is a class in the category of tubers. Ofe Owerri has got so many health advantages. Ugwu (pumpkin) leaf is known to be highly rich in iron and calcium. It’s said that this vegetable has great antioxidant capacities, helping to restore any damage to our cells and skin, protecting our heart and enhancing youth.

Cocoyam is also a good source of Vitamins. Snail contains the amino acids arginine and lysine at higher levels than in whole egg. It also contains healthy essential fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acids. The high-protein, low-fat content of snail meat makes it a healthy alternative food.

The health benefits of Uziza are numerous; the Uziza leaves are able to improve fertility in women and improve sperm in men. They are also known to alleviate the symptoms of cough. Uziza leaves contain alkaloids which help in pain relief. Due to its fiber content, it’s known to help prevent constipation. Another benefit of Uziza leaves is that it is used to cure cold and it also protects the liver against damages caused by toxins in our body.

Pumpkin leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals but low in calories. Pumpkin seeds, leaves, and juices all pack a powerful nutritional punch. The potassium contained within pumpkins can have a positive effect on blood pressure. The antioxidants in pumpkin could help prevent degenerative damage to the eyes.

Fish is high in many important nutrients, including high-quality protein, iodine, and various vitamins and minerals. Fatty varieties also pack omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.

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