Catfish pepper soup is a spicy fish dish that ranks high among the most exotic delicacies in Nigeria. It is often found and enjoyed in many local bars as well as posh restaurants across the country.
Its colloquial name “point-and-kill” always rings a bell in the ears of many Nigerians, and for the most figurative of reasons too. This is because some bars offer a service that allows their clients the chance to select their desired fish, usually from a large bowl teeming with live fish. The lucky fish – well … maybe not so lucky after all – is then killed and prepared for the guest.
And after a couple of minutes, the pepper soup is ready to be savoured, and maybe ‘washed down’ with a couple of cold drinks and some loud, blaring music.
So, what really goes down into making this spicy delicacy? Here’s a list of ingredients you’ll need for a pot of catfish pepper soup:
- 1000g Catfish (or more)
- A couple of Nutmeg seeds
- A few hot chili pepper (usually of the Scotch Bonnet variety)
- Some scent leaves (Efirin in Yoruba, Nchanwu in Igbo and Daidoya in Hausa)
- Ground crayfish
- 3 white onions
- 3 seasoning cubes (preferably Knorr)
- Some iodized salt to taste
Firstly, carefully wash the catfish to rinse off blood, slime and possible specks of sand. After then, you may proceed cut the catfish into the desired slices. Steam up the fish with some hot water and drain immediately to toughen up the outer skin. This little trick will prevent the fish from falling apart during cooking.
The Nutmeg seed flavour is the trump ingredient (well…not like Donald Trump), and as such, requires special preparation. You’ll need to roast them in a frying pan and stir continuously till they all have an even tone. You’ll smell a sweet aroma when it’s done. If you’re unsure it’s done, pick up a seed and try to peel off its outer coat. This is by far the easiest way to confirm if the seeds are done. Consequently, the outer coat comes off easily. Voila!
Now, you can dehusk (yeah, peel off the outer coat) the Nutmeg seeds and grind with a dry mill, possibly a coffee blender. Dice the onions into tiny bits, then wash the scent leaves and chop them up into fine pieces.
Now, it’s time to place your fish in a pot. Be sure to add enough water to cover the fish. Then, add the desired quantity of seasoning and light up your cooker.
After five more minutes, add the powdered Nutmeg, onions, chili pepper, and scent leaves and allow to boil for some minutes.
Finally, after about 10 minutes of steaming, the catfish pepper soup is almost done. The only thing that’s left is to add some salt to taste and leave it to further simmer for some 5 minutes. Tada! Your catfish pepper soup is ready to be relished.
Catfish pepper soup is best served hot. It can be eaten alone or with a chilled drink. As for me, I love to eat it with … um … well, you know how it goes. Your guess is as good as mine. 😉
Got other interesting methods for preparing this lip-smacking delicacy? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.