Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Culinary Correctness: How To Prepare Delicious Afang Soup

BY MITCHELLE OKUKU,




Afang soup is a delicacy of the Ibibios and the Efiks in Akwa Ibom and Cross River State of Nigeria. It is prepared from shredded afang leaves, “water leaf” (Talinum triangulare ), and an assorted selection of smoked fish, stock fish, meat and crayfish.

Served with fufu, gari, or pounded yam, it is a truly delicious authentic African food.
It is a must in all ceremonies like child’s birth, weddings, even funerals.
The appearance of afang soup might be a little threatening to new comers, but it is a very delicious soup and I am saying this from experience.
In the past, the afang leaves were only collected from the forest but in Nigeria, we now grow them even in our backyards. They are found growing in isolation or amidst of grasses or weeds.
Afang leaves (Gnetum africana ) can also be eaten raw as prepared by the Igbos in the popular African Salad “Ugba”. The people of the republic of Congo also consume the afang leaves which they call “Mfumbwa”.
Afang leaf is so named by the Efiks and Ibibios, Igbos call it “ukazi”, “Eru” by the Cameroonians and “koko” in Congo.
The other leaf used in the afang soup is the water leaf or fame flower (Talinum triangulare ) which is found in many countries in West Africa, Central African, some southern parts of USA but mostly cultivated in Cameroon and Nigeria.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE
The soup, like all other African food soup, is highly nutritious, since it contains a copious blend of vegetables, fish and or meat, along with needed lipids, minerals and vitamins.
The Afang leaf itself serves as a dietary fiber which helps in proper digestion and gives a bulk feeling, vital for a good weight control diet. It also contains Vitamin A, fat, oil, and iron.
Waterleaf has higher levels of nutritionally-important vitamins (such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and Beta-carotene, minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and soluble fiber known as pectin and purslane, all of which contribute to waterleaf’s highly-elevated antioxidant values and its total biological effect. The combination in one plant species of n-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and pectin that consequently has a positive and beneficial influence in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases in humans. Water leaf contain some substances that reduces harmful blood cholesterol and simultaneously increasing beneficial blood cholesterol and vitamin and mineral levels using such food compositions and of treating and preventing coronary heart disease using such food compositions.

HOW TO COOK AFANG SOUP

Ingredients:
* 1.5 kg of Afang leaves ( Gnetum africana )
* 1 kg of edible Water leaves (Talinum triangulare )
* Half litre of Palm oil
* 2 medium sized dry fish
* 6-8 table spoons full of Crayfish
* 2 cubes seasonings
* 1.5 Kg of assorted Meat – ( goat meat, cow leg or cow tail)
* 1 medium size finely chopped onions
* 5-7 table spoons of grounded Fresh red pepper
* 1 – 2 medium cups of Periwinkle (with shell removed)
* stockfish head
* snails, clam – optional
* salt to taste
Serving : 6
Preparation Time : 2 Hours
Cooking Time : 25 Minutes

Preparation:

* Pluck fresh afang leaves from the stem and wash them
* Dry the leaves under the sun in an open umbrella turned upside down for about 10 – 15 minutes, turning the leaves with your fingers occasionally; this is to allow the water drain from the leaves in preparation for cutting
* While the afang is drying outside, pluck, wash and slice the water leaves using a cutting board and set aside
* Bring in the afang leaves from under the sun
* With the aid of a cutting board, slice afang leaves into tiny pieces, turn into a bowl and set aside. On the other hand, in Nigeria you could buy the already sliced leaves from the market, but you still need to wash and dry them before use.
* Wash assorted meat, snails and clams. snails must be washed with alum and salt to cut off the slime
* Season meat, stockfish head, snails, and clams, with onions, pepper, seasoning and salt.Except the cow leg /tail that is set aside in different bowls.
* Take the cow leg / tail put into a pot fill pot with 1 .5 litres of water to cover the meat and put on fire. Cook for 15 minutes. Do not add salt to cow leg or tail until its soft
* While the cow leg / tail is on fire turn the sliced afang leaves into a mortar and pound with pestle into a paste. The afang leaves are a little tougher than other vegetable leaves so might take at least 10 minutes of constant pounding
* Turn the pounded afang leaves into a bowl and set aside
* After 15 minutes of cooking the cow leg / tail, turn goat meat and stock fish into cow leg/tail stock with 1 litre of water, adding more water intermittently if necessary
* After meat might have cooked for about 15 more minutes, add prepared snails and clams. This is because they do not take long to cook
* when meat is cooked, by then every other thing would have been well-cooked, add palm oil, seasoning cubes, crayfish, dry fish and periwinkle, to meat stock, stir with cooking spoon and allow to boil till oil blends with the stock. That should take about 8mins
* Add water leaves, stir with spoon, cover and allow to steam for about 2 mins
* Add the Afang leaves, stir and cover the pot
* Allow pot to sit on fire for about 5 mins, depending on how fresh you want your veggies
* Bring pot down and serve with fufu Pounded yam or garri e.t.c.
Naij.com contributor – Oluremilekun Osobu-Asubiojo
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