Isi ewu, Goat head in spicy sauce
Isi ewu, goat head in spicy sauce is a delicacy from Igboland of Eastern Nigeria. Similar to Nkwobi (cow foot in spicy sauce) and Homework (goat foot in spicy sauce), Isi ewu is more flavoursome because of the addition of the fatty brain of the goat.
I have eaten so much Isi ewu, I could almost identify from which restaurant a plate of Isi ewu was bought in my neck of the woods. Some are consistently divine while with others, you could sometimes get tough meat or incomplete parts but the worst is when you have a craving and the best joints have all sold out.
So it is very important to have a good Isi ewu recipe under your belt so there won’t be any stories because the craving for Isi ewu is difficult to ignore.
The goat head is supposed to be cooked whole after the butcher has given it a few cuts in the skull. When cooked, you cut it into pieces. This method is neither easy nor pleasant. I have never done the cutting myself, my Rennaisance man did that for me. The easy way, which is how I now cook goat head, is to have the butcher cut it up into large parts while preserving the brain whole.
For the perfect isi ewu, restraint is key. Do not over spice it or it will overpower the taste and flavour of the creamy sauce. It should be spicy, pepper-hot but mellow enough to taste the mild sweetness of the sauce.
The important parts of the goat head called Particulars are usually kept whole: the ears, eyeballs and tongue.
Be meticulous about cleaning the tongue, cheeks and ears of the goat.
How to prepare Isi ewu, goat head in spicy sauce
1 Goat head 2 seasoning cubes Dry chili pepper salt 4 Ehuru (toasted) 2 scotch bonnet 3 leaves Utazi Akanwu (potash, kaun)* 1/2 cup Palm oil Garnish 1 small onion few utazi leaves 1/2 chopped scotch bonnet
*1 tablespoon Akanwu powder (10g) + 2 tablespoons water
Have the butcher cut the goat head into large pieces, leaving the brain, ears, tongue and eyeballs whole.
Wash the pieces well.
Pour hot water on the tongue and cheeks, using a knife, scrape off the white top coat.
Scrub inside the ears very well.
Gently rinse the whole brain, wrap it in foil and place along with the meat in a pot.
Add water, salt, seasoning cubes and dry chilli pepper.
Cook meat until soft.
Be careful when adding water and salt because you want to have just about 2 tablespoons of concentrated stock remaining in the pot when meat is ready or you might need to cook it down later.
Fish out the parcel of brain and set the meat aside to cool down a bit.
Remove excess pieces of bones leaving some intact.
In a blender dry mill grind or pound in a mortar, ehuru, scotch bonnet and utazi.
In a small bowl, put akanwu powder and water, stir until well mixed, leave to stand to allow any sand settle at the bottom.
Meanwhile thinly slice onions into rings, shred utazi and chop pepper for the garnish, set aside.
Pour palm oil into a bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of the akanwu (potash) water and stir continuously using a wooden spoon, until the colour of the oil changes from red to yellow.
If it is cracking, add another 1/2 tablespoon of akanwu water and stir. This is called ncha (soap).
Unwrap the brain and add, mash very well to get a smooth mixture. A pestle does this very well.
Add the ground spices and about 1-2 tablespoons of concentrated meat stock, stir well, taste for seasoning.
You might need to add a 3rd seasoning cube especially if your goat meat is not the very aromatic type.
Dump the cooked goat head pieces into the slurry and mix to get the sauce into the crevices.
Serve in a bowl garnished with onions rings, scotch bonnet and utazi.
Serve with palm wine or any drink of choice.
- The number of utazi leaves might vary depending on its size.
If you enjoyed my Isi ewu, Goat head in spicy sauce, you will also enjoy my Homework, goat trotters in spicy sauce, Abacha ncha, African Salad, Ugba Salad, Oil bean seed salad and Ngwo ngwo, goat offal pepper soup
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