How to Make Abak Atama Soup
If you live in southern Nigeria, you would have come across a few restaurants going by the name “Calabar kitchen” written boldly on their signposts. If you stepped in, you would meet people from different parts of Nigeria in there. They have all come for one thing; the famous Abak Atama soup. You might want to try out this soup before learning how to cook it. Just sit and order a plate. I am 100% sure that you would enjoy every single bite of this soup like I did the first time I tried it out.
It was at a friend’s child dedication in Port Harcourt (My friend was married to Calabar man.) During their child dedication, they served lots of Calabar delicacies; naturally, among these was the Abak Atama soup. Honestly, I wanted to go for the popular ‘Edikan Ikong soup’ when my younger sister screamed that they were serving Abak Atama. I was just thinking to myself, what’s really so special about this soup? Well, I asked to be served Abak Atama and semovita. When I tasted this delicious meal, I just had to make it my favorite soup of all time.
What I love most about the soup are the ‘obstacles’ (the fish and meat scattered all over the place). I honestly waited till the end of the celebration so I could ask my friend to pack me a little of that soup. Because, I just had to have another taste.
Abak Atama is a delicious soup popular in southern Nigeria, particularly amongst the Ibibio’s’ of Akwa Ibom State. Its name is derived from the two dominant ingredients used in making the soup; the palm kernel fruit extract (Abak) and Atama leaves. The palm kernel extract used in cooking this soup is similar to that used in Banga soup but the spices and vegetables are different.
The palm fruit extract used in cooking this soup is not in any way similar to the red oil used in cooking. Palm oil is pure oil extract from palm fruit at a very high temperature. While the palm fruit extract for Abak Atama soup is extracted at a low temperature and is a mixture of oil and water, it also contains less saturated fat than palm oil. So, whenever you are tempted to use palm oil instead to cook the Abak Atama always remember that you would change the flavor of the soup.
Abak Atama Soup
Abak Atama is a delicious soup popular in southern Nigeria, particularly amongst the Ibibios of Akwa Ibom State. Its name is derived from the two dominant ingredients used in making the soup; the palm kernel fruit extract (Abak) and Atama leaves.
- 1 lbs Meat Beef, Goat or Assorted
- 500 grams Palm Fruit (Use palm cream alternatively)
- 1 pc Dry Catfish
- 1 pc Stockfish (Head) Medium size
- 2 ounces Unshelled Periwinkle
- 4 ounces Atama leaves Handful sliced
- 2 tbsp Ground crayfish
- 1 pc Uyayak (local spice)
- 1 tbsp Garlic powder
- 2 tbsp Atarodo (pepper)
- 1 tbsp Black pepper
- 1 lbs Pomo (Beef Skin)
- 1 bulb Onion (Chopped)
- 2 cubes Seasoning Knorr/Maggi cubes
- 2 tbsp Salt Salt to taste
Wash your palm fruits and cook till it is very soft. Put in a mortar and carefully pound till the chaff is totally removed from the nuts. Be very careful while pounding so you don’t end up breaking the nuts into the extract. When all the chaff are removed from the nuts, wash with warm water to extract the juice or oil. Avoid adding too much water during this process. Use a sieve to separate the oil from the chaff and nuts. Put the oil in a pot and set aside.
Wash all the meat and Pomo thoroughly. Season with onion, pepper, garlic, salt, and any seasoning cube of your choice. Add a little water and allow to cook.
Add the stock fish head when the meat is almost cooked and cook till it is soft.
Wash the Atama leaves and pound them till all the leaves are well pounded.
Put the palm fruit extract on fire. Leave it to boil to remove excess moisture/water.
Add the cooked meat, washed dry catfish, meat stock, periwinkle, crayfish, pepper, seasoning cubes and Uyayak. Stir and allow to simmer.
Next, add the Atama leaves and boil without stirring for 10mins.
Stir, add salt to taste.
Allow to simmer for a few minutes until the soup becomes slightly thick.