Fisherman Soup


So I am still welcoming the Spring and this recipe is so inspiring for the rainy Spring evenings. I  remember visiting an aunt and every time I was at her place, she was always cooking fish and oil with peppers. I never understood for the life of me what she was eating until she explained that it was fisher man soup. My aunty is from Bayelsa and  Fisher man soup (which is different from the “Native soup”) is predominantly made and eaten by the people who are from the riverine areas of Nigeria like Bayelsa, and the other Cross riverine areas. (A little history)…According to the different people I asked, Fishing has always being a dominant profession in the riverine parts of Nigeria and the fishermen eat most of what they catch. In the early days the fisher men with the little palm oil they carried with them would make soups out of their catch and sometimes eat it with roasted yam. According to my sources, the people of these areas love their seafood and liken their soups to good sex…well I won’t dabble too much into the sexual aspect as we are keeping it Pg. I have to say though, apart from the act of wooing :), this soup is just one more thing these folks have perfected

There are several recipes for this soup, some people add tomatoes and pepper, some people add only pepper etc. I like this variation better as it is quick and easy. I skipped some steps, like removing the fish from the pot and adding your thickener. I do not see any need for that as it  is a messy process and could break the fish. I am not a Lazy chef for nothing :)) I like to cut the cooking process in the kitchen when necessary.

There are different types of fish that are good with this soup such as Tilapia and cat fish. I always used Tilapia until I learnt how to properly clean cat fish. I never liked the slimy skin but one quick trick in my recipe works wonders. You may also add any sea food you like to your soup. For this version, I used fish, crabs and prawns. Any seafood should work

This soup has become one of the staples in my home and can be served with fufu, rice, eba, yam or even boiled potatoes. I always say food is versatile.


4.0 from 1 reviews
easy fisher man soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Nigerian
Serves: 4-6
  • I whole cat fish; cleaned, gutted and cut into steaks(medium)
  • I medium Onion
  • crabs(optional)
  • Half a pound of shrimp
  • crayfish 2 tbsps
  • palm oil about 40mls(add more if you want to)
  • 1 habanero pepper or ata-rodo
  • 1 finger cayenne or chili pepper
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 4 cocoyam(peeled, washed, cooked, and pounded or throw in food processor to make a smooth puree)
  • salt to taste
  • Bouillon
  • 1 tsp dry pepper
  • A hand full of chopped basil or scent leaves
to clean fish steaks
  1. place fish steaks into a bowl and pour some boiling water to cover it. Leave for a few minutes, rinse in cold water while using a butter knife to scrape off the slimy exterior(I found this method to be absolutely helpful). This process also helps to keep the fish from breaking easily
To cook soup
  1. put fish and crabs into a pot
  2. roughly or smoothly blend all your peppers and onion and pour over fish. Season with salt, 1tbspcrayfish, and or bouillon. Pour hot water right to the top of the fish then cover pot and on medium heat, bring soup to a boil. Let it cook for about 10 minutes or until the fish is almost cooked all the way. Remove the fish and the crabs from the pot; stir in the pounded coco yam and oil. cook for a few minutes or until the oil and the coco yam have mixed well with the soup. check to see if the soup is thickened. Add prawns, cooked fish and crabs, dry pepper, and crayfish. (If the soup is still watery, add some soaked garri) and shake the pot to combine. Do not cover the pot. Once the prawns, fish, and crabs are cooked, your soup should be thickened and done cooking at this point. Garnish with Basil or scent leaves and let soup rest for 10minutes before serving.


    • Nma Okpara says:

      Ha! Gift how funny. I asked for answers on my facebook page and no one, even the riverine people seemed to have answers, so I sought answers with others lol. Life is a learning process definitely

  1. Flora says:

    I hope to try this soon, even though the sight of slimy catfish irritates me. I heard they use unsweetened cabin biscuit as thickener sometimes, how true is that?

    • Nma Okpara says:

      That is lovely Flora. It would be nice to hear how much you liked the recipe. About the cabin biscuit, I have no idea. Perhaps, it could be a boarding house thing. I don’t know really, but I could ask

  2. Chinwe Effiong says:

    I have evolved in the art of cooking fisherman stew myself being married to an Efik man who LOVES it.
    Happy to note that the ‘best kept secret’ has been revealed.( adding a handful of Garri to thicken it)

  3. Sochimaechi says:

    I had this fisherman soup once @ a restaurant in portharcourt (jevinik), it had less oil and the soup had mashed fish in it. Truly delicious, always wondered how it was made. I’ll give this a trial. I here its mostly an efik delicacy.

  4. DeeDee says:

    I know this is years late lol but I just stumbled on your blog off the internet while looking for something entirely different. Please I’d like to know, is the garri soaked in cold or hot water?

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