When you love someone and you want to express your love, make them some Ekwang. That is if the person knows what Ekwang is. It is one of the meals I cooked to declare my love for Mr N in the good old days.
Making Ekwang is a process which involves grating, wrapping then wrapping some more. This thing could take some hours of your life. But there's a reward. The reward is the scrumptiousness.
There's never enough Ekwang when I make some. It disappears fast! It's the kind of food I dig into with no cutlery.
It is rich in ethnic flavours: crayfish, palm oil. So finger-licking good! It is the perfect meal for a contri geh like me. Watch me whipping it up below!
So what is Ekwang? It is grated cocoyams tied in cocoyam leaves and cooked with palm oil and other aromatic ingredients. This is one of the dishes that reminds me of the similarities between Nigerians and Cameroonians.
The Efiks and Ibibios in Nigeria prepare something very similar which they call "Ekpang Nkukwo." In Cameroon, it is called, "Ekwang". Some people call it, "Ekpang" while others call it, "Ekwang Coco". It is a staple of the Bafaw people of the South West region of Cameroon but widely eaten in the rest of the country. Because it is so good!
The cocoyams used in making Ekwang are a particular specie. They are longer and slimmer than other types of cocoyams. They are either white or pink on the inside. In stores here, they are labelled, "taro white" or "taro pink" while in Cameroon, they are locally called, "macabo coco". For a successful Ekwang dish, please get the right cocoyams. Then you peel the life out of them.
- 8 large "macabo" cocoyams white and pink mixed
- 6 bunches cocoyam leaves (or spinach/collard greens)
- 2 pounds smoked fish/stock fish/beef do a mix or choose 1
- 1 ½ cups palm oil
- 2 cups crayfish
- 1 habanero pepper - blended optional
- 1 medium sized onion-chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground "contry onions" (rondelles) optional
- 2 tablespoons blended garlic and ginger
- ¼ teaspoon white or black pepper
- 3 seasoning cubes (Maggi) or 1 ½ large crayfish seasoning cubes (Maggi crevette)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Peel cocoyams and grate to a paste using a grater with small holes. You could alternatively use a food processor to bring the cocoyams to a paste. Season the paste with a quarter teaspoon of salt and mix together well.
- Coat a large pot with palm oil the way you will coat a pan with oil/margarine to bake a cake. Take a teaspoon of cocoyam and place at one end of a leaf and start wrapping until you get to the end. Please see the video.
- Repeat wrapping process until the paste is finished. Make sure you place your little wraps in criss-cross patterns so the stock goes round well.
- Add every other ingredient mentioned above to the wrapped cocoyams. Add 2-4 cups of water and bring to a boil. If you have stock from boiled meat or something, use it instead of water.
- Let it cook together for 30 minutes. Half-way through the cooking, check to see if you need to add more water. If the liquid is at the same level as the wraps then it is good. Avoid stirring so you don't unwrap the little wraps. This is what I do: I hold the pot on both handles and shake so every ingredient mixes nicely and evenly. If you must stir, use a wooden spoon and run it around the edges of the pot.
- Taste, adjust seasonings if need be and voila! Ekwang is ready! Serve warm.