If you haven't had Ofe Oha or Ofe ora whichever you choose to call it, depending on your dialect,you definitely won't understand the hype about this delightful delicacy from the South Eastern part of Nigeria.This soup is a typical example of the saying ' you never know what you have until you loose it.' When I was living in Nigeria I could eat ofe Oha whenever I felt like it because 'fresh' oha leaves are readily available.
Notice the description fresh. This is because oha leaves are very delicate. And the best oha soup is made from fresh oha leaves.
Because of the above, the only time I can enjoy oha soup is when there is a new arrival straight from Nigeria. By new arrival, I mean either when my parents or other relatives visit from home or when I travel home. Fresh Oha is like gold oh so most people appreciate it as a gift from Nigeria.
Don't get me wrong, Oha leaves can be found in African Stores but not 'fresh' oha leaves but sun dried or frozen ones. And in my opinion oha Soup can't be authentic without fresh leaves. One soup I think can be made with the dry oha leaves is Ofe Onu mmuo. It is prepared with Egusi ( melon seeds) and the oha leaves.
While growing up I know we occasionally ate Egusi made with oha leaves but I didn't know it had a designated name until I came to the US. Since Some times the oha from home may not all survive the trip. My aunt sorts out the best and uses it for oha soup on the day the oha leaves arrive, then the other not so fresh oha she sets aside to use for ofe onu mmuo. In other words Oha must not go to waste.
Today is a special day in the history of the United States, a day NEVER TO FORGET. 9/11/2001 day, when over 3000 people ( loved ones; children, parents, cousins, siblings, uncles, aunties, etc. I can't believe it's been 16 years already when that horrible incident took place. I can still remember that day like yesterday. I was still in Med School.
That day was a Tuesday but we didn't go to school. I think it was a public holiday. We studied a bit and decided to go visit some friends. On getting to their apartment we heard then screaming they watching live on CNN as this unfortunate happening unfolded. It was indeed heart breaking to see how precious lives were being cut short.
Today 16 yrs later and as it has been every year since the horrible event, America chooses to remember those who lost their lives, those who lost loved ones and those who lost their live trying to save others we choose to #NeverForget..... We pray such never happens again.
Back to our soup. Oha soup is made in a similar way to ofe onugbu in that it is made with a thickener. This thickener could be traditionally
- Coco yam (boiled and pounded or processed in the food processor then added to the soup.) OR
- Ground Achi. OR
- Ground ofo
Non traditional ones like
- Finely ground oats
- Corn starch
- All purpose flour
For this recipe, I would be using the ground ofo because that is what I have readily available to me ( it's in my freezer enough to last me a long time brought to me by my sweet mama❤)
What is your favorite thickener when making this soup? Would love to know. Don't forget to comment below.
As always I precook my meats to save cooking time. Just precook, and freeze both meats and stock. Pull out of the freezer and thaw overnight as simple as that. You should do that too if haven't already started. It makes African soup making a breeze. Ain't no one got time to spend hours in the kitchen these days. Let's get cooking
Ofe Oha (Oha Soup)
- 500 g Beef precooked
- 800 g Beef foot precooked
- 500 g stockfish precooked
- 200 g tripe precooked
- 1 or 2 dry fish ( cleaned and deboned)
- 120 g Oha leaves (shredded with your hands and washed)
- 2 - 3 pieces uziza leaves sliced (optional but recommended)
- 7 cups Meat stock or water
- ¼ cup coarsely ground crayfish
- 1-½ tablespoon ground Cameroon pepper ( sub with 2 coarsely blended scotch Bonet or habanero pepper)
- 1 to 2 tablespoon Ogiri igbo (1 or 2 wraps)
- 1 tablespoon ground ofo ( sub with 1-½ tablespoon Corn starch)
- 1 cup Palmoil
- Salt to taste
- Bring meat stock to boil, add crayfish and Cameroon pepper.
- Add in the meats and turn heat to low. ( Don't cook meats for too long remember they are already precooked)
- Add in the palm oil and stir.
- Mix Ogiri with a little water and add to the pot. Then take a cooking spoon of hot liquid from the pot to dissolve the ground ofo. Pour the dissolved mixture into the soup and stir. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
- As the soup thickens, add oha and the uziza leaves. Stir in and turn off heat to allow residual heat finish up. this keeps the oha fresh and green looking.
- Enjoy with any swallow of your choice
- Remember the meats are precooked, don't over cook.
- The ground ofo ( mkpuru ofo powder ) must be dissolved in a hot liquid. it would coagulate with cold water and make your soup lumpy.
- If you are using beef stock and not water, be cautious as you add extra salt, remember the stock already has some salt and seasoning whether it is home made or store bought.