I want na under pot!
I would scream, making sure I was the first person who said those words. My sister and I fought for “burny burny” (the partially burnt ekwang at the buttom of the pot) a day after this delicacy was cooked! It was that burnt, smokey and savory part of Ekwang Coco that was most loved especially when eaten the day after it was cooked!
Ekwang coco is a delicacy common to the Bakweri people of the South-West of Cameroon though it has become popular and is now enjoyed by many other tribes. It is made from cocoyams, wrapped in cocoyam leaves and cooked with a lot of spices ( African Nutmeg and Country Onions being the stars of this dish) and red palm oil. I recently learnt that it is also a speciality of the Efik people of Nigerian, cooked in almost the same way but for the addition of scent leaves and called Ekpwang Nkwuku.
It is quite interesting how most African countries cook almost in the same way though the dishes are named differently. I usually say if I cook Ekwang coco for you, it means I love you a lot. This dish is not only expensive to cook, but it is also very time and energy-consuming. Grating the cocoyams and tying it in leaves, leaf for leaf takes time and requires a little bit of skill. Yes, I still grate cocoyams, I love cooking traditionally like that. But, when things need to go really fast in the kitchen, I pull out my food processor and in the blink of an eye, my cocoyams are grated.
SUPA secrets to the perfect Ekwang coco
SUPA Tip #1: For the perfect texture, a mixture of red and white cocoyam 50/50. Perfectly cooked Ekwang should in a be similar to pasta as they are at first firm and toothsome, but then yielding, soft and silky.
SUPA Tip #2: For perfect long Ekwang “fingers”, make sure to tie the grated cocoyams in leaves without holes. Tie small quantities of grated cocoyam in bigger leaves.
SUPA Tip #3: For Ekwang that is not ‘mushy’ or sticky, leave a hole in the middle of the pot for the spicy sauce that is used to cook the Ekwang and DONOT use a spatula or cooking spoon to stir. Shake the pot ONLY.
Because I could not find cocoyam leaves in my area, I cooked this Ekwang with spinach leaves but taste remains the same. If you’ve got the time, I highly recommend you try out this dish. The taste will compensate for all your time and effort. We will be glad to read your comments and feedback below.
Ps. This is a dish for special occasions since it is heavy on the oil side!
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Happy and healthy cooking xoxo.
- 6 - 8 large cocoyams
- 15 -20 cocoyam leaves (or fresh spinach leaves)
- 1 small piece of ginger
- 2 onions
- 8 garlic cloves
- 8 parsley leaves
- 6 celery leaves
- 1 tsp. mhite pepper
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 habanero pepper (optional)
- 500g beef (optional)
- 2 large dry makrerel or dried fish of choice
- a handful crayfish
- 2 African nutmeg (Eheru)
- 2 Country Onions
- 3 beef bouillon cubes
- 1 1/2 cup red palm oil
- Salt to taste
- Peel and grate cocoyam using a kitchen grater. You can also use a food processor but make sure that you donot add a lot of water. If cocoyam mixture is two watery, tying will be practically impossible.
- If you are using meat, boil meat with onion and salt till half cooked.
- Blend all other spices in a food processor and add to boiling meat. Add crayfish and dried fish and bouillon cubes and cook till meat is tender making sure that you have enough stock. This is what you will use to cook the cocoyams.
- If you are using cocoyam leaves, wash them and let water drain, then using your hands, divide leaves in 4 to 6 parts depending on the size of the cocoyam leaf and how big or small you want the wraps to be.
- If you are using spinach leaves, do not divide leaves because they are small enough.
- Line a big pot with palm oil just like you would a cake pan. This will prevent the food from excessively burning.
- Using a tablespoon, place 3/4 of a tablespoon of cocoyam on the edge of the leaf and begin wrapping until complete.
- Each wrapped cocoyam should be placed in way that would leave a hole in the middle of the pot. The purpose of this whole is to creat a place where we can add water while cooking.
- Repeat this procedure untill all the cocoyams have been wrap.
- Now, place your pot on the fire without meat stock or water and cover for minutes. This steps firms up the cocoyam in the leaves so it does not scatter whilst cooking.
- Next, add beef stock from time to time as required for about 30 minutes.
- Last add beef and dried fish as well as oil and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Never stir the pot with a spoon, just shake it from side to side.
- Serve hot!