Low FODMAP Catfish Oghwo Amiedi (Banga) Soup (Fast Version!)
The Niger delta is the largest river delta and mangrove ecosystem in Africa, and home to the 3rd largest wetland in the world. It's people and their diet are as rich and diverse as the land in which they live.
Every day is soup day!! Too many to mention, but a few of my favourites are egusi, pepper, ogbono, okra, ground nut and of course banga soup. Unrefined palm oil, scotch bonnet peppers and some native spices give most of these dishes their distinctive, rich taste.
The great thing about stews from the Delta region are that the recipes are totally flexible, forgiving enough to throw in any protein of your choosing!
Banga soup is super quick and easy to make! I make this version with dried catfish and a firm white fish, which means its ready to eat in about 30 minutes.
The base of banga soup is made from the palm nut fruit. You can extract the pulp from the kernel yourself, or buy it in tinned form from the supermarket. For convenience this fast recipe uses tinned palm cream.
There are 3 spices that give banga soup its distinctive taste. Ground ataiko, ground irugeje seeds and oburunbebe stick. These spices can be hard to find. I find much pleasure in grinding the spices myself but its perfectly acceptable to use a ready made spice mix. The spice mix is called banga soup spice. It's much easier to find online and is even stocked on amazon and in ethnic food stores.
For those with a sensitivity to onion, onion can be replaced with a mix of Hing powder and green scallion tips. Hing comes from the resin of fennel plants and has a strong sulphur odor that fades to a pleasant flavour during cooking. A definite must for this stew.
Dried crayfish give an added depth of flavour. If you haven't eaten or cooked with dried crayfish before though, its worth noting that dried crayfish has a very strong, pungent aroma!! If you aren't super keen on fish definitely leave them out.
This banga soup includes dried bitter leaf and dried catfish. Both are soaked in boiling water for 15-20 minutes and rinsed well well (to remove grit) before adding to the soup. If you don't like the bitterness of bitter leaf, or cannot source this ingredient, its perfectly fine to use spinach.
In my mind, no banga soup dish is complete without starch but you can serve this soup with whatever side pleases you! I don't eat starch nearly as often as I would like. Partly because its so calorie dense, but also because of the elbow grease involved in making it!!
It's definitely not difficult to make starch, but the mixture does require consistent kneading for 15-20 minutes. If you want instructions on how to make this let me know!
I have a theory that Delta people are always smiling because they let go of their frustrations pounding yam and making starch....and washing beans...if you know, you know :-)
If you decide to give this recipe a go, share your thoughts, pictures and recipe tweaks. Good luck!
Notes before we get cooking!
FODMAP red, amber green rating reflects the total amount of Fructose (FTS), Lactose (L), Mannitol (M), Sorbitol (S), Galactooligosaccharide (GOS) and Oligos Fructans (FTA) in the TOTAL volume/weight of the ingredients used in the recipe.
This recipe makes approximately 2 servings of banga soup (1 serving pictured). How many servings you eat is totally up to you!
I'm a big fan of simple recipes that don't need fancy equipment. For this recipe it does help to have a blender and a big pan with a lid.
Re-hydrate the bitter leaf and catfish by covering with boiling water. After 15-30 minutes, drain, rinse and set aside.
Open the tin of palm fruit concentrate. Pour it into the pan.
Fill the same tin with water and add this to the pan. Repeat. Your pan should now contain 1 can palm fruit and 2 cans water.
Bring this mixture to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
Blend together the spices, crayfish, scotch bonnet pepper and onion (green tips or whole if using).
Begin preparing your starch or rice.
Pour the blended mixture into the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes. The mixture should begin to thicken.
Add the re-hydrated catfish and bitter leaf, simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Add the fresh white fish and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until the fish is cooked and the soup has the consistency you like.
Serve and enjoy!
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