The Egusi Soup recipe described on this page is the Fried Method of preparing Nigerian Egusi Soup (Ofe Egusi / Efo Elegusi / Miyan Gushi). This is the oil before egusi method.
Other ways of cooking Egusi Soup:
- Egusi Soup (Caking Method): I also call this one the Egusi Before Oil method. No frying is involved, making is a healthier way to prepare Egusi Soup.
- Akpuruakpu Egusi: where the ground egusi is molded into balls and cooked in the soup such that you will be eating the egusi balls like meat while enjoying the meal. The surrounding egusi in the soup is prepared using the caking method.
Preparing Nigerian Egusi soup
- 500g Egusi (Melon) seeds
- 3 cooking spoons red palm oil
- Beef: best cut and Shaki (cow tripe)
- Fish: dry fish and stockfish
- 2 tablespoons ground crayfish
- Pepper and Salt (to taste)
- Vegetable: Nigerian pumpkin leaves, spinach or bitter leaf
- 3 small stock cubes
- 1 small ogiri okpei (optional)
- Spice grinder for grinding egusi (melon) seeds:
Notes on the ingredients
- To be honest, I may have put 3 cooking spoons of palm oil up there but you will need more. You want the quantity of palm oil that will turn every grain of the ground egusi yellow. See video below. If the ground egusi is not well coated, it will burn during frying and the resulting Egusi Soup will be dry and have a burnt taste. If you are concerned about the quantity of palm oil you will used for this soup, it is best to prepare your egusi soups using the Caking Method.
- The best meat for Nigerian soups for swallows is red meat with beef being the most common. You can also use goat meat. I have seen some people cook Egusi Soup with chicken, that’s fine but the elders will not like it. 😀
- If you use chicken, please do not use dry fish and stockfish because those two cannot co-exist with chicken in the same Nigerian pot. 😉
- If using bitter leaves, add it a bit earlier because it is a tough vegetable (see the cooking directions below). Remember that they need to be washed to remove all the bitterness unless your family prefers it with the bitter taste.
- Ogiri okpei is made with locust beans. It is known as iru in Yoruba. It adds a traditional taste to Egusi Soup.
Before you cook Egusi Soup
- Before preparing the soup, soak the dry fish and stock fish till soft. If you are using the very tough stockfish, boil it for 20 minutes and leave in the pot with the hot water to soak for about an hour. If using the softer stockfish, you can just soak them in cool water till you can break them apart with your hands.
- When the fish and stockfish are soft, de-bone and break them into sizeable chunks.
- Much closer to your cooking time, grind the egusi with a dry mill. Grind the crayfish and the dry pepper separately and set aside.
- Rinse the vegetables to be used and cut into tiny pieces.
- Cook the beef and fish with the stock cubes till they are well done. You should start cooking the toughest meat and fish first and add the others as they get done. If using a normal pot, I will start with stockfish and shaki, add beef after about 1 hour and cook till done. I can add the dry fish when all the other meat and fish are cooked because it is already cooked, you just need to cook it long enough till it is soft and integrated with the rest of the ingredients. With a pressure pot, I do it differently but that is a process for another post.
- Set all these aside.
- Pour the red palm oil into a dry pot and set on the stove to heat. As soon as the oil melts, add the ground egusi and start frying. If the oil is not congealed, add the egusi as soon as the oil is translucent. Mix the ground egusi with oil till every grain of egusi turns yellow.
- Start stirring the egusi on low to medium heat. Keep stir-frying for about 10 minutes.
- Add the meat/fish stock (water from cooking the fish and meat) little by little while still stirring the egusi. So you add a bit of the stock, stir-fry for some time, add another, stir-fry and so on. When the stock is exhausted and you feel that the soup is still too thick, you can start adding hot water in the same way till you get the consistency you want. If your choice of vegetable is bitter leaf, add it at this time.
- Cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes, stirring at intervals. Also, top up the water when necessary. If you don’t stir it, it will burn. It takes 30 minutes to cook egusi properly else the soup will not taste nice to someone with authentic Nigerian taste buds. Also, egusi that is not cooked long enough may cause upset stomach. The egusi is done when you notice that the oil has separated from the mix.
- Once you are happy that it is done, add the ground crayfish and pepper. Stir and add the Nigerian pumpkin leaves or spinach (alternative).
- Stir very well and add the cooked stockfish, shaki and meat.
- Add salt if necessary. If it is too thick, add some water to bring it to a consistency you like.
- Cover and leave to simmer and it is done!
The perfect swallow for Egusi Soup is Pounded Yam. You can also serve it with Eba (Garri), Agidi, Amala, Semolina Fufu, Tuwo Shinkafa or Cassava Fufu.