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For more on How to Cook Nsala Soup visit:
Ingredients for Nsala Soup
• Cat Fish
• Fresh or Dry Utazi Leaves (Gongronema latifolium)
• Thickener: Raw White Yam / Yam Powder / Potato Puree
• Chilli Pepper: Habanero is the best but you can use dry pepper.
• Crayfish: A handful for 4 pieces of fish.
• Salt (to taste)
• Seasoning — 1 stock cube and Ogiri Okpei/Iru (Nigerian traditional seasoning)
Alternatives to the ingredients:
1. If you can’t buy Cat Fish where you live, you can use Conger Eel (Congrio in Spanish). It tastes as good as Cat Fish, so much that you’ll barely notice the difference. Make sure you buy the part towards the tail so that you don’t end up with large holes in your fish cuts.
2. To use yam powder as thickner, mix it with hot water first to form a thick paste, then use like the pounded yam. You want the soup to take the thickner slowly so putting the powder directly into the soup will make the soup mushy.
3. If you can’t buy Utazi, it’s ok to cook the soup without it and you will not even notice that it is not there.
Tips for cooking Nsala Soup
1. Cut the fish to about 1 inch thickness and do NOT open the sides like I did in the video. Opening the sides increases the chances of the fish disintegrating in the soup.
2. Pour very hot water on the fish to toughen the skin. This helps to keep the fish from disintegrating while you are cooking the soup. With some Catfish, when you pour the hot water on it, you will notice some slimy substance on the skin. Be sure to wash this off thoroughly otherwise your Nsala soup will have a bitter taste.
3. Depending on the type of fish you are cooking with, the fish may be done by the time the yam pieces are ready to be pounded. In that case, add the ingredients as soon as you take out the yam pieces for pounding.
If you don’t feel comfortable cooking them together, you can cook the yam separately and pound them before cooking the fish. That way, you are sure that all your ingredients are ready before you start cooking.
Crongromena Ratifolia (Utazi) is a heart shaped green leaf that has a bitter taste. It grows wild, with its twigs wrapping around other plants.