Learning how to make Catfish pepper soup is a skill. It is a necessary skill for a country where eighty per cent of the population believe that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
In Nigeria, Catfish Pepper soup is called ‘point and kill’.
The reason it is called ‘point and kill’ is because when you come into the restaurant or a smaller version of a restaurant in Nigeria called bukka. You are taken to see many live catfish swimming and you are then prompted to point at the ones that you like. Whatsoever fish you point at is caught and killed. It is then used to make catfish pepper for you. One catfish can serve a group of four people.
You can find it in hotels, restaurants and local eating-places called bukka.
Catfish pepper soup – a popular delicacy
It is one of the most popular soups in Nigeria and it is very addictive.
When making catfish, one of the notable actions is for you to clean the fish very and ensure that the slime is properly washed off. You can use warm water to remove the slime. You can also use lime or lemon to clean off the slime. When you use salt to wash the fish, the fish is over salty. When you use lime or lemon, your fish is left feeling very clean and perfect.
For the spices used in making the pepper soup, use ehuru, uda and uziza. One of the spices will do the job, which spice is ehuru.
When adding pepper of habanero or rodo if you live in Nigeria, ensure that you remove all membranes before grinding them in a dry mill.
- One big catfish (cut and cleaned)
- Four Habanero pepper or rodo
- One small onion
- 5 nutmeg seeds (Ehuru, roast and grind the seeds)
- Half-teaspoon Uziza seed
- Four pieces Uda seed
- A handful of chopped scent leaf, uziza, efinrin, or your best savoury herbs. Parsley can be used as a substitute.
- One teaspoon Paprika
- Seasoning powder or stock cubes
- Salt to taste
- You can cook the fish whole or slice lightly into four pieces. Ensure that you remove the intestines and wash the fish liberally with salt.
- You can also pour warm water on it and rinse out the salt. This will ensure that the fish is firm.
- As a substitute, you can use lime or lemon for the washing so that you can get rid of the slime.
- Season your fish with seasoning, anyone you prefer. If you are not using lime or lemon, minimize the salt use.
- (If you buy the fish in the evening, you can store the fish in the refrigerator overnight. This is optional. You can also buy it fresh in the morning you want to use it).
- Put the sliced fish in a large pot and add 3-4 cups of water. Be on standby to add more in case the fish is not properly broiled.
- Add habanero (rodo, in Nigeria) to taste. Put a little onion, ehuru, uziza, uda and cook until the fish is cooked.
- Add seasoning cubes to taste.
- Shake the pot. Do not stir with a spoon to prevent the fish pieces from breaking. Stir gently.
- Add paprika to make the colour of the sauce slightly red.
- Check the seasonings and add as much seasoning as you think is needed.
- Add scent leaves and herbs; simmer for five minutes before serving.
- It is best served hot.
P.S. If you are not in Nigeria, you can use the Conger Eel, a Spanish species that is an alternative to catfish.
For grinding the spices, you can buy a coffee grinder to use in grinding your nutmeg. For the Ehu spice, roast the spice till you start perceiving a unique aroma. To confirm that it is well done, take one of the seeds and remove the outer membrane. It should come off easily.
There are varied types of pepper soup. You should try them.
Also read: Zaalouk – How to cook a Moroccan dish