Fufu (western nigeria)|| Akpu (eastern nigeria) is a Nigerian swallow made from fermented wet paste of cassava. Now there seems to be a huge misconception that every “Swallow” is known as Fufu and this is wrong. There are different types of swallow and fufu/akpu is one of many. Also, the method of preparation is totally different from that of other swallows and it is very important to go through the major steps to avoid major complications due to the toxic carcinogenic compounds contained within cassava. Let’s start with the steps
How to process cassava for fufu.
Step 1: Peeling & Chopping
The first step is to peel the cassava skin with a knife. The skin contains a very high amount of cyanide which can be toxic to consume.
Step 2: Grating or Grinding
After peeling, you grate or grind the cassava. Grating or grinding the cassava tuber provides a greater surface area for fermentation to take place in order to get rid of the cyanide in the product. The cyanide is usually attached to glucose in the cassava.
Step 3: Soaking to Ferment
The next step is to soak the cassava in water for a 3 days without changing the water then for the next 2 days, you change the water. With the surface area for fermentation exposed by grinding the cassava, it’s easier for the toxic cyanide to be extracted. The cyanide is usually attached to the glucoside in the cassava and part of it gets removed after fermentation. By routinely changing the water within 3-5 days, about 99% of the carcinogenic compounds would be gone. The cassava is perfect when the water is clear (From the yellow water you get at the beginning to the clear water after straining several times). This is the most crucial step and if you skip this step, your fufu will end up being yellow, sweet, and not good at all.
Step 4: Sieving & Straining
The next step is to strain the fermented cassava pulp through a pap sieve or pour it into the pap sieve and tie it tightly then place it over the sink and place something heavy on the bag so the water would be drained out. The smell is usually unbearable and the smell can linger for a long period of time so be sure to use hand gloves when straining this.
Step 5: Drying
Next, you remove the cassava pulp from the bag and spread it over a flat tray. Then you leave it to sun dry or place the tray in the oven to dry. By now, most of the toxic compounds would have been extracted.
Step 6: Boiling
Now it’s time to make fufu. Pour the fufu flour into a pot and add water. Mix it to form a paste and place the pot on the burner. Cook this while stirring consistently until it starts to thicken. If it’s too soft and runny, you add more cassava flour. Mix till you get a very smooth, firm, thick pliable dough. Sometimes, stopping at step 6 is not always enough especially if there are lumps or it’s not that pliable so we move to step 7.
Step 7: Pounding
Place the cooked dough in the mortar and pound with a pestle till you have a lump-free pliable dough.