Healthy, delicious egusi stew made with spinach, mushroom , melon seeds, and smoked mackerel. It is incredibly tasty, with lots of flavour from tomatoes, onions, ginger and smoked crayfish .
For some strange reason I can’t cook soup in small portions. I always end up making a big pot of soup, even when it is my intention to just make a smaller portion. It’s a good thing my Mr has a large appetite and loves soup. He can have soup for days. What I can make in smaller portion though, is stews. Really weird.
Egusi stew or soup is a dish I grew up eating. The name of the stew is attributed to the protein rich melon seeds which are used in making the dish. My mum’s egusi stew is the best and I am not just saying this because she is my mum. I have friends who ate at my house who still talk about her superb cooking skills. Her stew had lots of meat, stock fish (dried cod), tripe and smoked crayfish which gave the stew this smoky sweet flavour. Some people call this dish a stew and some a soup. I just stick to stew, because it looks like a stew.
My recipe is an adaptation of this is popular Nigerian dish. Spinach or bitterleaf are vegetables that are typically used in making this stew. In my version I will be using lots of iron rich spinach, as it’s readily available to me and cheaper. Also added to the stew is chestnut mushroom. I love the meaty texture of chestnuts.
To start off I prepped all the ingredients needed to make the stew. Onions, tomatoes and mushrooms were chopped. I also made a paste with the ground egusi (melon) seeds by adding two tablespoons of water to it and mixing. And the spinach was steamed as well. Either fresh or frozen spinach can be used in this stew. Should you decide to use frozen, thaw and drain your frozen spinach to remove the water. Gather up all the spices an seasoning you need to one side. Food prep makes cooking easier and also makes the experience quite enjoyable. When you food prep , everything is ready to go once you start cooking. You don’t want to start cooking and then start running around to find an ingredient that needs to go in immediately. Throws the timing off and you may just end up say over cooking say onions.
I went with a meat free version of this stew. I used delicious smoked mackerel fillets and smoked ground crayfish for added flavour. You can cook this stew with steamed beef , mutton or goat meat.
Spinach and mushroom egusi stew is not just delicious, it is packed with nutrients as well. If you haven’t tried this before, I absolutely recommend it. Serve with boiled rice, yam or fried plantain. Enjoy!!