Okra soup or Fetri detsi is one of the traditional dishes from the Ewe tribe in West Africa. There are various ways of making Okro soup including cooking it with Zomi (spiced Palm oil), Sunflower oil or an oil free option.
One can choose to use either Beef, Goat meat, Lamb, Chicken, Fish , Seafood or a mixture of both Meat and Fish as their choice of protein.
This dish is inspired by my Aunty Anna who lived in a town called Mpraeso in the Kwahu mountains of Ghana (where I attended boarding school). She made the Okra with smoked Tilapia and fresh ingredients she picked from her farm earlier in the day.
I watched in anticipation (with my ball of Banku ready) as she added the shredded , freshly picked Cocoyam leaves to the soup (knowing the soup would be ready soon) and not wasting time to extend my bowl of Banku for my share of the soup.
On one occasion my cousins and I feasted on this delicacy, going for seconds till we couldn't stand up.
We had to run to relieve our intentional discomfort which reeked of gluttony. Childhood shenanigans...
There was no stock cube in sight as the flavour of the smoked Tilapia gave the dish its needed flavour.
The fresh nature of her ingredients gave the dish a clean and smoky taste packed with bags of natural flavours.
You can purchase smoked Tilapia from most African grocers or alternatively slow grill a fresh one for 2 hours at 140*c.
Chillies do play a pivotal role in most West African dishes.They provide the obvious heat to most dishes and also a unique aromatic taste.
I've noticed most Chillies in the UK lack the aromatic smell and flavour I'm describing here. You're more likely to find the aromatic kind at an African grocer.
AKAUN / KAUN / POTASH
Akaun is a natural lake salt that forms during the rainy season and dries out into a firm grey rough like rock in the dry season. It's best used to tenderise meat, soften pulses when cooked and activates the mucilage of Okra, which works well with this recipe.
There are different types of Akaun which includes one made from unripened Plantain peels or Palm fruit ashes , which are a healthier alternatives.
Akaun is used in this recipe to activate the Okra's viscosity but it can be omitted and pulsed in a food processor.
Akaun is available in most African grocers , however you can use Bicarbonate Soda in the absence of Akaun.
OKRA / OKRO
Ladies fingers/ Gumbo / Bhindi
When choosing your Okra/ Okro, ensure it has an even green colour all over and the tip snaps easily with little pressure.
The Okra needs to be finely diced for this recipe or for an easier option, blend it with a little water in a food processor.
Let's start cooking!
400g of finely diced Okra
1 large smoked Tilapia
250g of fresh Prawns
200g of Shitake Mushrooms
1 large Onion
1 Habanero chilli
1 medium finely sliced Onion
30g of grated Ginger
Half a teaspoon of Akaun (Optional).
2 cloves of grated Garlic
350g of fresh Spinach
500g of fresh dressed Crab
1 litre of Water or Vegetable stock
Blend the Ginger, Aniseed, Garlic and Onion into a smooth paste.
Place the smoked Tilapia, a litre of water into a large saucepan and place on a medium heat.
Add the sliced Onions and half of the Ginger mix and boil for about 30 minutes.
This process is to create your own stock for the soup.
Add the Crabs and cook further for 10 minutes. This will allow the flavour of the crab to infuse into the stock and vice versa.
At this stage add the chopped Okra, Akaun , the remaining Ginger mix and stir.
I prefer to add the remaining Ginger mix at this stage , as it gives the soup a refreshing and spicy taste.
Cook for 4 minutes and add the Prawns.
It's best to add the Prawns and Spinach as the last thing (this ensures they aren't over cooked and retain their nutrients).
Cook the Prawns for 2 minutes and add the washed Spinach.
Mix everything together and turn the heat off.
Cover the soup with the lid of the saucepan and let it rest for 2 minutes. This will trap the steam and cook the Prawns and Spinach further.
Serve immediately and enjoy it on its own or with AmoKple.
Find the AmoKple recipe on my YouTube channel , 'Ndudu by Fafa'.
I've written about a few different Okra recipes on my blog, do check it out.
All photos and recipes are by the owner of this blog.