I learnt how to prepare ofe akwu from one of my closest and dearest friends. As a typical Igbo family with core traditional values, it wasn’t unusual to hear the thumping sounds of mortar and pestle pounding away the flesh of the Akwu every Sunday afternoon in her family house. During my uni days whenever there was a short break, I remember travelling all the way from Enugu state where my school was located down to her house in Anambra state to spend the weekend just so I could enjoy this native dish with white rice which was usually well prepared from scratch. This is definitely one of the tastiest Igbo soups I’ve come across and a favourite among many.
Ofe Akwu which simply means Palm nut soup in igbo language is a native Nigerian soup, popular in the eastern part of Nigeria. It’s quite similar to Banga soup(Delta style palm nut soup) & Abak atama (Efik style palm nut soup) with the only difference being the type of spices and herbs used in the preparation. For Ofe akwu, you could either use just Nchuawun as i did in this post or a combination of Nchuawun (Scent leaves) and Ugu “Pumpkin” leaves. When you go to buy Palm nuts “Akwu” it’s always best to pick the right types to get the best result. There are usually two types of Akwu sold by the traders: The “Agric”(which is fleshy and therefore would give you more oil extract) and the “Native”(which looks smaller but is known to be sweeter). It’s always advisable to combine both to get the maximum benefits. Ofe Akwu is mostly used as a stew for white rice in the east but in some other parts, it’s used as a soup and taken with “Swallow” i.e Garri/eba, Semolina, Fufu, wheat meal, corn meal e.t.c. For me, i love taking mine with both rice and swallow ;).
How to make Ofe Akwu (Igbo palm nut soup)
Ingredients you’ll need are:::
Turn off the burner and serve with Boiled rice or your favorite
- • 1800kg Fresh Palm Fruit (Aku) (2 Derica cups)
- • 800g Beef (Red meat), Cut in chunks
- • 400g assorted meat: Cow Intestines, Tripe a.k.a Sharki
- • 1 Cooking spoon Crayfish, Ground
- • 2 medium-sized Dry fish /Smoked Fish
- • 1 medium-sized Stock fish "Panla" a.k.a.Okporoko (i skipped this)
- • 2 Seasoning cubes - Crushed
- • 2 Red scotch bonnet pepper (Ata rodo), Ground
- • 1 Ogiri Okpei (Substitute: Dawadawa)
- • Salt to taste
- • A handful Scent leaves "Nchuawun"
- • A handful Pumpkin Leaves
Step 1: Rinse the palm fruits 2-3 times with water then place in a medium-sized pot. Add clean water just enough to cover the palm nuts in the pot and cook on the burner for 15-20 mins till the fruits get soft. You can check this by biting into one of the nuts. if it's soft, then it's ready. Strain the liquid used in boiling out and place the palm fruits in a mortar and pound with a pestle till the skin separates from the kernel. Scoop the pounded nuts into a clean bowl and add water into it. Squeeze and strain the palm oil into a bowl
Step 2: Wash and place the Beef and assorted meat in a different pot. Add the Crushed seasoning, Pepper, Salt and water just enough to cover the meat in the pot. Cook till the meat gets tender leaving the concentrated meat stock within.
Step 3: Prepare the ogiri okpei by placing it in a small bowl of water. Mash it up to dissolve -Set aside
Step 4: Prepare the stockfish (if using any) by soaking it in hot water to soften for 10 minutes then rinse with clean water. For the smoked fish or dry fish, all you need to do is open it up from the middle, then remove the bone and gut. Rinse and set aside
Step 5: Pour the extracted palm nut liquid into a medium-sized pot and cook for about 10 minutes. Gently add the Beef and assorted meat (Including the stock "Meat water")