How to Cook the Best Ofe Akwu (Banga Stew)

ofe akwu banga stew

Ofe Akwu (Banga Stew)

This is the one Nigerian stew you must taste at least once in your life time. You wouldn’t know what hit you in the first few seconds of tasting boiled white rice with Ofe Akwu!

Best Ofe Akwu Recipe [Video]

Recipes Related to Ofe Akwu:

Ofe Akwu Ingredients

  • 800g palm fruits (5 cups)
  • 1kg (2.2lbs) beef
  • 1 dry fish
  • 2 smoked mackerel (titus fish)
  • 1-2 bulbs of red onion
  • 2 tablespoons ground crayfish
  • 2 small seasoning cubes
  • 1 small lump of ogiri okpei
  • Habanero pepper (to your taste)
  • Scent leaves

Tools and utensils you’ll need

  • You’ll need mortar and pestle to pound the palm fruits. If you don’t have mortar and pestle, some people have told me that they use:
    • a food processor.
    • a stand mixer with the K-beater.
    • an empty wine bottle as pestle while using a pot as mortar.
    • their hands to mash and squeeze the boiled palm fruits but I do not recommend this one because it requires the palm fruits to be VERY hot and your dominant hand will NOT thank you for this.
  • Knife and chopping board
  • Sieve

Notes on the Ofe Akwu Ingredients

  1. If you do not have palm fruits, you can use tinned palm fruit concentrate to prepare Ofe Akwu but it does not taste as good as when fresh palm fruits are used.
  2. Ogiri Okpei is traditional locust bean seasoning. It is not the same as Ogiri Igbo. If you don’t have ogiri okpei, skip it.
  3. You can use gilthead sea bream fish instead of mackerel.
  4. I HIGHLY recommend red onions. It adds a special taste to Ofe Akwu more than any other type of onions.
  5. Please note that scent leaf is not the same as mint leaf. Mint leaf will ruin your Ofe Akwu so NEVER use it for this stew. Scent leaf is unique to Nigeria. If you don’t have it, use parsley. Some people have found comfort using basil. But it does not taste like when scent leaf is used.

Before you prepare Ofe Akwu

  1. Soak the dry fish in water to soften. When soft, clean, debone and break into small pieces.
  2. Chop the onions.
  3. Pound the Ogiri Okpei and pepper in a mortar till smooth.
  4. Rinse and boil the palm fruits till done then pound in a mortar till the flesh forms a smooth pulp.
  5. Separate the palm nuts from the pulp then rinse the pulp in as hot water as your hands can handle to get a thick concentrate. See the video below for how to do this. When done, set aside to settle.
  6. Pick the scent leaves and slice.
  7. Smoke the mackerel in your oven if you have not done so. Click here for how to do that. Then debone and break into large pieces.

Directions for cooking the Ofe Akwu

  1. Boil the beef with the seasoning cubes and half of the chopped onions till done. For best results, I grill the meat in the oven.
  2. Slowly decant the palm fruit concentrate into the pot you will use to cook the Ofe Akwu making sure the unwanted sediments do not go into the pot.
  3. Add the beef stock, the grilled meat, dry fish, the remaining onions, ogiri okpei and pepper and crayfish.
  4. Cover and start cooking. When it boils, continue cooking till you see some red oil floating on top.
  5. Add the smoked mackerel and scent leaves.
  6. Cover and once it boils again, it’s done! Taste and add salt if necessary.

Serve with Boiled White Rice or Boiled Yam.