Saturday 6 December 2008

Cook's Alphabet 'O' — Ogbono Soup Recipe

Cook's Alphabet 'O'

This is the fifteenth in my series of 28 postings going through the entire alphabet, as it relates to cooks and cooking. As you can see, today I'm dealing with the letter 'O'.

The letter 'O' is, of course the fourteenth letter in the English alphabet, and today's recipe is for a classic Italian pizza dough base made from the o-named grain, oats:

Oat Pizza Base Recipe

70g whole wheat flour
35g oat flour (made by rendering rolled oats to a fine powder in a food processor)
10g active dried yeast
120ml lukewarm water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds
160g (about) strong bread flour

Combine the whole wheat flour, oat flour and dried yeast together in a bow. Meanwhile, combine the water, salt, olive oil and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring continually. Once lukewarm add the fennel seeds and the oat flour mixture and beat until smooth. Immediately take off the heat then beat in enough of the strong bread flour to form a moderately stiff dough. Knead this until smooth then cover and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into a bowl and place in a lightly-greased bowl, turning it to coat in the oil. Cover and set aside in a warm spot to rise until doubled in volume. Knock the dough back then roll on a lightly-floured work surface until about 28cm in diameter. Cover and allow to rise for 10 minutes then top with your desired toppings.

Place in an oven pre-heated to 200°C and bake for about 18 minutes, or until the edges of the base are golden and crisp. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

(This recipe reproduced, with permission, from the Celtnet Oat-based Pizza Dough Recipe page. )

Today's cooking term is Offal: Offal is an English word that refers to the internal organs of an animal or fish and includes brain, liver, kidney, heart, tripe, lungs, thyroid, pancreas etc. In some instances it can also apply to an animal's extremities, such as head, tail, trotters, tongues and eyes. The origin of the term in English comes from the late 14th century terms of (off) and fal (fall); literally those part of an animal that fall off the butcher's block. As a result they were often seen as low-quality cuts of meat, only eaten by the poor. In Britain many traditional dishes such as liver and onions, tripe and brawn (made from pig's head meats set in jelly) are still commonly eaten. In those conutries where meat is a rarity offal provides a welcome source of protein.

Today's spice is Ogbono: Ogbono is the Nigerian name for the kernel of the African Wild Mango (also known as Mango Sauvage, bush mango, African mango) the fruit of either Irvingia gabonensis or Irvingia malayana which are members of the Malpighiales (mangrove) family of flowering plants. Though the fruit (technically a 'drupe' or hanging fruit) is eaten, it's actually the inner kernel of the seed tha's most commonly consumed. These are known as 'nuts' and are both fat and protein rich and are subtly aromatic in note. These are hulled and dried in the sun before being sold either whole or in powder form. The classic dish containing obono is Ogbono Soup, the recipe for which is given below:

Ogbono Soup Recipe Recipe

1kg assorted meats (oxtail, tripe, game, offal)
450g stockfish (pre-soaked)
450g dried smoked fish (washed)
225g whole dry prawns (cleaned)
225g ground crayfish
500g ugwu (pumpkin leaves), washed, shredded and blanched
225g ground ogbono seeds
25g ground black pepper
25g iru (fermented locust beans (carob) — omit if not available)
1 medium onion, sliced
4 habanero chillies, ground to a paste
290ml palm oil
2l stock or water
salt to taste

Wash the assorted meats thoroughly and add to a pot. Add the sliced onions, ground chillies and some stock or water. Cook for 30 minutes then add the washed smoked fish and stockfish, cook for a further 10–15 minutes adding a little stock or water as needed to prevent burning.

In a separate pot, heat the oil and fry the fround ogbono seeds for 3 minutes to bring out their nutty flavour. Gradually add the stock to the ogbono mixture and whisk until it begins to bubble then add the cooked meats, onions, peppers and crayfish. Add the iru (if available) and the ugwu (pumpkin leaves) then allow to simmer for a further 10 minutes. Check the seasoning and serve hot with pounded yam.

(This recipe reproduced, with permission, from the Celtnet Ogbono Soup with Ugwu Recipe page, part of Celtnet's Nigerian recipes collection. )

For more information on cookery-associated terms and information beginning with the letter 'O' here are various links that may well be of interest:

Recipes beginning with 'O'
Spices beginning with 'O'
Herbs beginning with 'O'
Wild foods beginning with 'O'
Cook's glossary 'O'

For more African Recipes, see the Celtnet Recipes Blog African Recipes page.

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