Catfish pepper soup (Point and kill)
When the weather is cold, you are home warm and cosy, then your tummy starts rumbling, demanding food, what usually springs to mind? hot chocolate, steaming plate of spicy jollof rice, a large bowl of pepper soup, fresh fish pepper soup…? So I made this steaming hot pot of catfish pepper soup because it was raining and cold outside but warm and toasty indoors and we were hungry. I served it with white rice. My Rennaisance man, son no. 3 and I ate and were contented.
Catfish pepper soup is always high in demand by guests at Nigerian parties and is about the most common pepper soup cooked in Nigeria. It is served to a nursing mother during Omugwo (see Yam pepper soup (Ji mmiri oku). Catfish pepper soup is called point-and-kill in drinking parlours for a reason see Baked Catfish in Pepper sauce point and kill.
Catfish pepper soup is one of the easiest and fastest to cook in the repertoire of Nigerian pepper soup but it is also very easy to mess up. This pepper soup is an unforgiving soup and demands concentration, good timing and attention. Catfish is usually the fish of choice and I believe it is because it is predominant in Nigerian rivers and is the most farmed species of fish in Nigeria. It doesn’t have too many loose and threatening pieces of bone, one of my fears in life, fish bone and I, we have a history. Catfish needs to be cleaned well of its slime, see my post on how to kill and process Catfish. Tilapia and croaker fish are also used, I wouldn’t use mackerel though, the taste will be too overpowering.
The cooking time will depend on the type and age of the fish used. Fish being delicate doesn’t need prolonged cooking, so you will need to get enough flavour into it in the short time it takes to cook it. If not handled with care, it will break up. I used a mixture of spices here but you can use a store bought pepper soup spice blend if you like. See Important Notes below.
Get the fish monger to kill, gut and cut up your catfish even if you have to pay some money, it will save you of time.
To prepare Catfish pepper soup (Point and kill)
1.2 kg fresh fish 110g onions, chopped (1 medium) 2 seasoning cubes 1 tablespoons ground crayfish 2 scotch bonnet* salt 2 big ehuru (3 small), ground 1/2 teaspoon ground uziza 2 sticks uda utazi leaves (bitters)
*You can use less scotch bonnet and add a little Cameroun pepper, tastes really good.
Wash catfish slices well.
Toast and grind ehuru, hit uda to just break it open.
Pour hot water and leave to stand for 1-2 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water.
Place in a pot and add just enough water to just cover the fish. Place over medium heat.
Add onions, seasoning cube, crayfish, peppers and sprinkle some salt.
Cover and bring to a boil, add ground ehuru, uziza and uda, gently shake and swirl your pot, cook for 5-8 minutes.
Add about 5 leaves of shredded utazi and some water. Taste and correct seasoning.
Cook for another 5-8 minutes until fish is well cooked. Take off the heat.
Serve your Catfish pepper soup with boiled yam, plantain, rice, agidi (eko, corn paste pudding) etc.
- To prevent your catfish from disintegrating in your pot of soup, use the hot water method so you can cook it long enough to get the seasonings and spices into the fish.
- Do not overload your fresh fish pepper soup with too many seasoning and spices. If using a spice blend, use just enough to have a mellow (not harsh) taste.
- Cook long enough to remove that harsh raw taste of spices.
- If you can stand the heat of hot peppers, this is one pepper soup that benefits from being very hot.
- Fish is one ingredient you do not want to cook from frozen. It needs to defrost properly right through to the centre and because it cooks very fast, there is no way the centre will defrost and cook at the same time as the outside. Leave your fish to totally defrost before cooking.
- Toast ehuru or better buy already toasted one like I always do.
If you enjoyed my Catfish pepper soup (Point and kill), you will also enjoy the Baked Catfish in Pepper sauce (point and kill), Yam pepper soup (Ji mmiri oku), Foil baked fish with vegetables and Nigerian seafood chowder.
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