Abacha Ncha, African Salad
Abacha, also called African Salad, jigbo, is made from processed shredded cassava tuber. It is a popular dish from the eastern part of Nigeria. Abacha Ncha, African Salad is served as a snack or main meal to visitors at home, weddings or parties and besides the Nigerian jollof rice, Abacha is arguably the next best dish out of Nigeria.
Abacha ncha involves making a sauce (an emulsion) with oil and potash (akanwu, kaun), getting the right balance of this creamy sauce, is key to its deliciousness. It is one dish I ate in copious amounts when I was preggie for daughter no. 1 and it still ranks tops in my food haven, in fact, abacha is very personal to me.
The dish abacha, african salad, derives its name from the unprepared ingredient which is sold wet or dehydrated (dry) already processed. I used to do the processing myself but it is so tedious, the peeling, boiling, slicing or grating, soaking etc, you are better off buying the already processed one.
Ugba (shredded oil bean seed) is sometimes mixed with or served alongside the abacha ncha, akidi (black beans) or ground okro can also be added. There is a plethora of garnishes used to beautify and make abacha even more appetising, like sliced raw or lightly sauteed onions, garden egg of different sizes, shredded anala (garden egg) leaf, utazi leaf, whole crayfish, dried whitebait fish etc. Fried mackerel (ice-fish) commonly accompanies abacha, other accompaniments include canda/ponmo (cowskin), stockfish, dry fish, smoked fish, bush meat.
To prepare Abacha ncha:
150g dry abacha 1/4 cup palm oil 4 teaspoons potash water (1 tablespoon potash powder to 4 tablespoons water) 1 teaspoon ogili isi 2 tablespoons ground crayfish 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ehuru (about 3 medium seeds) scotch bonnet, ground (fresh pepper) 2 seasoning cubes salt fresh anala leaves (garden egg leaves) garden egg frozen mackerel(icefish) onions
Pick through abacha to remove any dirt or grit.
Rinse dry abacha in a bowl of cold water and scoop out of the water leaving behind the very last bits, this is to avoid sand that might be present. Place abacha in a bowl and pour enough warm water to just cover it. Let it stand for one minute, drain in a sieve.
Meanwhile mix 1 tablespoon akanwu powder to 4 tablespoons water, set aside to settle a little.
Place palm oil in a large bowl, add the akanwu water and using a wooden spoon, stir till the colour changes and becomes thick and uniform.
If it keeps cracking after much stirring, add about 1 teaspoon more of akanwu water (too much akanwu gives it a soapy burning taste.)
Add ogili isi, ground crayfish, ground ehuru, pepper, and seasoning cubes. Stir well to mix, taste and add salt. The taste of this mixture should be stronger than what you need because when you add the abacha, it will be water down the taste.
Add abacha and stir to coat very well. If adding ugba, add at this point.
Your Abacha ncha, African salad is ready to be garnished, presented and devoured.
For the garnishes: Cut, wash, season fish with salt and fry till browned. Wash and shred anala leaves, wash and remove stalks from garden eggs, Slice the onions.
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