Efo Riro is a rich vegetable soup that is native to the Yorubas of Western Nigeria. The vegetables that can be used to cook this soup are water leaves and pumpkin leaves. If these are not readily available where you live, frozen spinach is a very good substitute. If you want the authentic Efo Riro, you should add tomatoes to yours but I don’t like tomatoes in any soup that I’ll use to eat eba, semolina, pounded yam and other fufu recipes. Just add enough tomatoes to make the soup deep red.
• Assorted meat and fish. For my Efo Riro, I used:
• Palm Oil: 20 cl
• Frozen Spinach: 1 kg
• Crayfish: a handful
• Onions: 1 medium bulb
• 3 big stock cubes (spinach needs more seasoning)
• Salt & Habanero / Scotch Bonnet peppers: to taste
1. Soak the stockfish and dry fish for a few hours. The length of time depends on how hard the stock fish is. Mine soaks in under 1 hour. When soft, clean the fish, remove the bones and separate them into small pieces.
2. Cut the frozen spinach and wring out the excess water when fully defrosted.
3. Prepare other ingredients: pound/blitz the pepper, cut the onions and grind the crayfish.
4. Start cooking the shaki first with as little water as possible (see video below) as it is the toughest meat in the bunch. This soup should have as little water as possible so add small amounts of water at a time and top it up as you cook.
5. When the shaki starts to curl, add the dry fish and stockfish.
6. When the shaki is almost done, add beef, stock cubes and onions and cook till all the meat and fish are well done.
7. Top up the water to about half the contents of the pot. Add the crayfish, smoked fish, pepper and palm oil.
8. Cover the pot and cook at high heat till the oil has changed from red to yellow.
9. Add the spinach or any other soft vegetable: pumpkin, water leaves etc.
10. Cover and cook still it gets a good boil, taking care not to overcook the vegetables. Add salt to taste and leave to simmer for 2 more minutes.
Serve Efo Riro with Semolina, Amala, Pounded Yam, Eba or any other fufu meal