I posted pictures of this on Instagram and got really good responses. I meant to post the recipe here on the blog that night but didn’t get round to it, so here it is now. Okra is one of my all-time favourite comfort soups. It goes down so easily and I love the slippery texture of it. I made this particular soup because my dad had been away travelling for a couple of weeks, and I knew that by the end of his trip, he would have become thoroughly fed up of all the ‘ahihia’ he encountered. You know the feeling, we’ve all been there. There’s a point where you feel that it is enough of the potatoes and creamy sauces and designer sandwiches. All you want is perhaps the smoky aroma of party jollof rice, or the salty sweetness of beans and ‘dodo’ (fried plantain), or the inviting smell of a delicious soup where the meat and ‘orishirishi’ are jostling for space in the pot.
To welcome him home, I chose the latter – soup with plenty of good stuff in it. Lots of ‘okporoko’ (stock fish) and few cubes of beef for flavour, and then fresh seafood dropped in at the very last minute to cook quickly and retain maximum flavour. As you will notice from the pictures, I made this okra soup less dense than the norm. The idea was for it to be enjoyed on its own in huge, steaming, vat sized portions, with a spoon for slurping. If you would like to eat this with eba, rice, pounded yam, amala, tuo or semo, then by all means add more okra to make it cling better to your ‘swallow’. You can follow my more conventional okra recipe here. But for the lighter seafood version, with very little oil, read on…
1kg okra, chopped
1 ½ kg raw tiger prawns, tails on, peeled
10 – 15 crab claws
1 large croaker fish, cut into 10 pieces
Salt and dry red pepper
- Place 7 – 10 cubes of beef, two handfuls of stock fish, a finely chopped onion, fresh chopped pepper and a couple of stock cubes in a large pot and fill it about three quarters of the way. This is because you will need to boil them for a couple of hours, until both are tender, and this tastes better when the original stock remains in the pot, as opposed to adding lots of water as you go along which dilutes the stock. Better to have too much stock and save the excess for another dish than have too little.
- While that’s boiling away, chop your okra to whatever size you like, wash your seafood and set aside. I used tiger prawns, crab claws, and croaker fish but feel free to use any other seafood you like. In fact, next time, I might use lobster, squid, shrimps, and maybe some baracuda.
- When the beef and stock fish are tender, you should have about a third of the stock left. Now, sprinkle over three or four tablespoons of ground crayfish, and one small cooking spoon of palm oil. Check the seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if you need to.
- Once the flavours have melded, add the okra, and mix it all in well. Let this cook for about 2 minutes, and then carefully place the seafood on top of the okra – fish first, then prawns, then crab claws. At this point, no more mixing as you will break up the fish, so carefully swill the soup around the pot so it at least has a little bit of contact with the seafood, and then cover. Cook for another 5 minutes, and take off the heat to rest just before the fish and prawns are completely cooked through. Doneness will occur from the residual heat + steam and you can serve after about 10 minutes.
Serve this in smaller bowls if you are using this as a starter, or larger bowls if it is the main event. Then tuck your napkin into your shirt like a child, and enjoy. Do you have another interesting way of cooking with okra? Do share in the comments section, please :).