The Pretend Chef

Ugba salad, oil bean seed salad

Desserts/ finger food, Salads | September 28, 2016 | By

Ugba salad, oil bean seed salad is another African salad relished in the eastern part of Nigeria. Ugba is very flavoursome with a deeply rich umami taste. 

It is made from the oil bean seed, which grows inside a long pod on the oil bean tree. When the pod reaches maturity, it bursts open scattering the oil bean seeds on the ground. These very hardy seeds are boiled, cracked open, shredded and left to ferment before use.

We had an oil bean tree in the school farm back in federal government girls’ college Benin, so we would pick the seed, drill a hole through it and attach it to our key rings to make a key holder. Those seeds were tough.

Ugba is mostly sold already processed and salted or unsalted, it also comes in different sizes, very thinly shredded or in large julienne. I prefer using the thinly shredded type for this salad because the sauce has more surface to coat. The larger type, I use mainly for anala (garden egg leaf) wrap and general cooking.

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When buying your ugba (ukpaka), taste it to check for the degree of fermentation, because it’s the fermentation that builds the flavour and texture of the ugba. Well fermented ugba is rich, tasty, soft and pungent, you also need to taste for saltiness. Salting and refrigerating slows or stops further fermentation. The taste of the ugba is critical to the taste of the end product.

To make Ugba salad (oil bean seed salad)

250g Ugba (shredded oil bean seed)
1 slice stockfish
1/2 cup palm oil
2 1/2 tablespoons potash water (kaun/akanwu) *
Toasted chili pepper, 
1 seasoning cube
1 1/2 teaspoon toasted ground ehuru (calabash nutmeg)
1/2 teaspoon ground uziza
small onion, sliced
anala leaf or okazi leaf (afang), shredded
anala seed (small seed)


*Potash water made up of 1 tablespoon potash powder to 4 tablespoons water. Mix and leave to settle a bit before use.

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Wash and boil stockfish till soft, break up into bite-sized bits with your hands.

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Grind toasted chili pepper, ehuru and uziza, set aside.

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Slice onions, wash and shred anala leaf. 

Wash and remove the stalk of the anala seed, set aside.

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Wrap ugba tightly in foil, place the foil parcel in a plastic bag and tie securely or into a zipper bag.

Place this parcel in a small pot with about half an inch of water. 

Place over high heat and boil for about 5 minutes, until heated through. This is to sanitise it.

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Spread out on a tray to cool down a bit.

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In a bowl, pour in palm oil, add the potash water and using a wooden spoon, stir till colour changes to a light golden yellow and is uniform.

If it keeps cracking, add another 1/2 tablespoon potash water and stir very well.

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Add pepper, ehuru and uziza stir very well to blend with the palm oil mix. 

Add ugba and stir very well to coat it uniformly. 

Add shredded stockfish, onions, anala leaf and anala seed, mix well and ugba salad is ready.

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It is mostly served with drinks especially Palm wine but any drink will do.

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You will also enjoy my authentic Abacha ncha, african salad, Easy stir fry abacha (African salad), okazi salad (Afang) salad, and Easy abacha recipe. Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

Do you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below. 

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  1. Udoka
    November 15, 2016

    Very helpful for an Anambra lady, Hit all the necessary right spots with my Abia hubby

    • gaga
      November 15, 2016

      Hi Udoka, so good to hear, keep making hubby happy. Try out other recipes and let us know how they turned out.

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