Sunday, 20 July 2014

"Man Catching / Husband Keeping" Edikang Ikong Soup

Funke Koleosho's Man Catching / Husband Keeping Edikang Ikong Soup

There are a few "iconic" dishes/soups in Nigeria, and the Edikang Ikong Soup is definitely one of them! What makes this soup so popular/iconic....? I believe it could be because of the accolade given to the soup - Man Catching / Husband Keeping Soup!

Edikang Ikong is a popular Calabar/Efik soup made with a combination of vegetables mainly pumpkin leaves, (traditionally called ugwu or ikong ubong leaves) and water leaves. An assortment of fresh and dried meats and/or fish is also added. This soup is rich in taste (from all the different flavours from the veggies and meat) and also rich nutritionally. See the nutritional profile of Pumpkin Leaves below.

Calabar/Efik women know the worth of this soup so much that it is used to rekindle romance in relationships. Yes it is that tasty. There is a general notion that once any man tastes a well prepared Edikang Ikong soup, something happens to them internally........ something good and favourable to the cook/chef....
The soup as I said is often made with two types of veggies one of which must be the pumpkin leaves (else it wont be edikang ikong). Others may be added such as water leaves, scent leaves, spinach, etc. These are added to make eating the soup easy because pumpkin leaves could be quite tough. Some actually believe that if you pick only the tender pumpkin leaves to make the soup, you do not necessarily need to add water leaves.

Edikang Ikong Soup

According to most Efiks, a good, well made edikang ikong soup would have all sorts of meats, fish, periwinkles, and most importantly must be "dry"! The idea of having liquid form in the soup is not desirable, so the vegetable are squeezed dry of excess liquid before adding to the soup.

I beg to differ a little on this idea and I do allow some veggie juice to develop in the soup to keep the soup bold, thick but also wet and moist. I also tend to use less meat, fish pieces, not more than necessary, frankly. The meat/fish pieces, for me, must also be bite size, with little or no bones present....

Nutritional Data (fluted pumpkin leaves (Ugwu, ikong Ubong leaves) 100g of picked leaves)
Calories - 48kcal
Dietary fibre - 2.6g
Carbohydrates - 4g
Protein - 4g
Fat - 0.8g
Vitamins - A, C, K, E, Folates, Riboflavin
Minerals - Potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus

For all its worth, I feel if you are truly Nigerian, you need to master how to make this dish, if not for anything else but for the nutritional benefits you can get from it. Also you never know if this dish could come in handy if you are trying to create an impression or you simply want to rekindle romance with your partner. Trust me, the soup sends the right/required signal(s), whatever the situation.

In today's post, I have created a really simple, straight forward method for cooking Edikang Ikong; stage 1: Prep the ingredients. stage 2: Cook the soup. I invite you to give it a try.

Edikang Ikong Soup served with Eba or Pounded Yam

What you need
  • 2 bunches of pumpkin leaves
  • 1 small bunch of water leaves or spinach
  • Half a cup of dried smoked prawns
  • 300g of fresh goat meat
  • 100g of stock fish
  • 150g of cow-foot or cow-skin
  • 150g of beef tripe
  • 150g of raw king prawns
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 fresh ripe plum tomatoes (yep, not normally used, but I use it to cook/boil the goat meat. It provides a depth of flavour for the finished dish)
  • 1-2 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 Stock/bouillon cubes
  • 2-3 serving spoons of red palm oil (red palm oil is very rich in vitamins A & E and is good for you. It contains no cholesterol!)

What to do
Stage One: The first thing is to prep the different meat/fish pieces and the vegetables.
  1. Request your butcher to chop the goat meat into small bite size pieces. Wash thoroughly trimming off fats and remove bones where possible. Transfer the goat meat into a small pot with chopped fresh tomatoes, and chopped (small onion). Season with some salt or stock cubes. Add enough water to cook and soften the meat. Remember the meat must be cooked until all juices dry out. No need to save the stock. Also watch the amount of stock/salt you add to avoid over salting. 
  2. Once cooked and softened to your preference, set aside. Also bear in mind that the meat will be returned to the stove later for further cooking so its important to get the softness right.
  3. Simultaneously, wash the cow-foot and stock fish. Then transfer into a pressure cooker (this will help cook and soften more quickly). You only need to add water and a little salt to this. Cook under pressure until soft. Again take care to ensure that the cow-foot does not get over cooked. Once cooked, (should be around 20 minutes depending on thickness) carefully open the pressure cooker and remove the stock fish and cow-foot pieces. When cooled, remove bones and cut the cow-foot into small bite size pieces. Also remove bones from the stock fish and flake into small pieces. Set aside
  4. Then wash the beef tripe and cook till soft in a separate pot. Season with salt and cook until it softens and all the juice dries out. Once cooked, allow the tripe to cool and cut into bite size pieces. Set aside
  5. Remove the shell from the prawns, de-vein and rinse thoroughly. Set aside
  6. Pick the pumpkin leaves from the tough stalk. Aim for the most tender leaves and stalk. Wash the picked leaves first, shake off excess water and shred finely. Shredding finely is really important as it enables the leaves to cook faster. Set aside. Also pick the water-leaves or spinach, wash thoroughly to remove all traces of soil. Again shred very finely. Set aside
Edikang Ikong Soup (with a tad bit of veggie juice)

Stage Two:
  1. Now in a large enough pot, transfer the goat, stock-fish, cow-foot and beef tripe pieces. 
  2. Coarsely blend the scotch bonnet chillis, the second medium size onion and dried smoked prawns. Add a cup of water to enable easy blending. 
  3. Place the pot containing the meats onto the stove and add the blend, add also half a cup of water. Stir well, cover the pot and allow to cook (under moderate heat) for about 5 minutes. After a few minutes bubbling, add the palm oil. Stir well. Have a little taste and adjust as necessary using the remaining stock cubes. 
  4. Once satisfied with the taste, add the shredded pumpkin leaves and stir in. Stir well. A tip is to add a little at a time and stop once you achieve your preferred proportion. Also add the shredded water-leaves. Again add a little at a time. 
  5. Finally add the cleaned king prawns. Turn the heat down and allow the prawns to cook and the leaves to soften. Should be around another 5 minutes. I do this with the pot covered again. This will allow the soup to steam up to create a little moisture (which I love)...Stir well and have another taste. Adjust as required with salt/stock cube.
  6. Serve hot with a "swallow" of choice (....remember to add a little pumpkin leaves to your "swallow". Learn how to do it here ).

Edikang Ikong Soup

Edikang Ikong Soup