It’s a few days to Christmas and I have been down with a cold and I have bombarded myself with spicy soups; ranging from vegetable pepper soup to fish pepper soup and just warm water with pepper soup spice.
One thing I love about pepper soup is that, the pepper and spices help you kind of sweat out the cold.
I have had some recipes in line for the Christmas celebration, but with coughing, sniffing and all the fatigue I feel, I think I’ll do the easy ones. I cannot just leave you guys like that.
Growing up in Nigeria, I lived in Warri which is in Delta state. In warri, we have several rivers and we lived quite close to the NNPC refinery port where my dad worked. So, if there is one food Warfarians enjoy the most of, it’s fish pepper soup. I remember going to Pesu Market with my mother, just because she had to buy fish. The good thing about Pesu market was the fact that it was close to the water, so every fish caught was instantly sold to eager customers.
In Warri, there are several restaurants who offer a variety of fish or seafood for their pepper soup, but the people’s favorite is either Tilapia or Catfish. Personally, I do not fancy Tilapia, but it’s one fish that is affordable and soaks up the flavor of whatever dish you’re cooking. So, making a decision to use Tilapia for this recipe was very easy. (and I digress).
In warri, especially on Fridays after a week of hard work, you could hear from the streets people; especially men and their girlfriends in tow; sharing stories or a kiss or two over a healthy bowl of fish pepper soup and bottles of beer. The interesting thing about pepper soup joints(small restaurants), is that they have a section called the “point and kill.” You point at the fish you want and they butcher it for you and make you fresh fish pepper soup with it. It was what the young men used in enticing the young college girls who had a liking for fish pepper soup. I remember looking at women who drank any type of alcohol; especially beer as weird species. I guess it came from being raised by a mother who always told us drinking any type of alcohol was bad. I didn’t understand the logic as my dad who only really drank palm wine welcomed his visitors with chilled bottles of Star, Gulder and Guinness. Now, whenever I see my mom drinking Guinness, I remind her of her “don’t drink” days and she smiles and says it was for our good. Now, she says drink, but responsibly. Wasn’t that supposed to have been her message the whole time? Nigerian parents sha. Do as I say and not as I do. Sometimes, they forget that you lead by example.
On the day I made this bowl of pepper soup, I was not feeling too well. The last pot I made was eaten my Ajebutters and I had to have more. It’s funny how they say “it’s spicy;” yet they won’t let the soup pot be :). I was hoping to share the recipe with you guys. But I wasn’t sure if the soup would be good because I was not even too focused while I was making it. I just wanted something hot to keep my insides warm, but viola!
The good thing about this recipe is that, you could make it medicinal by adding the Aridan fruit also known as the Uyayak pod by the Efiks and Mkpurumosisi by the Igbos. A combination of the spices and the pod is everything and a bag of chips.
Not only does pepper soup cure colds, they are great as appetizers. They’ll keep you and your guests warm this holiday as you get dinner ready.
This is a great recipe for the cooler months as well as the warmer months if you so desire.
So without further ado…
- 2 whole fish (cleaned and gutted)
- 3 table spoons pepper soup spice
- 1 small red bell pepper(seeded)
- 2 habaneros
- ½ of an onion
- 1tsp Utazi(optional)
- 1 handful basil(optional)
- 1 Aridan fruit or uyayak pod(wash thoroughly)(very optional)
- 3-4 cups of water
- 1 bouillon(optional)
- salt to tatse
- wash and pat fish dry. Make slits into the fish with a knife(this helps to get the seasonings into the fish) season with salt and set aside.
- Roughly to smoothly blend the peppers and onions. Pour into a wide sauce pan. Add the Aridan fruit if using and add 3-4 cups of water. Season with bouillon and bring to a boil. Add the fish and check for seasonings.
- Bring the pot to a slight boil; then reduce the heat and cover to cook for 15 minutes. Once the fish starts to cook, occassionaly use a ladle to pour the soup over the fish. This enables the juices to get into the fish. Do not stir. after 15 minutes, add the utazi and basil...turn off the heat and enjoy