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Nigerian Fish Soup (Obe Eja)

June 9, 2009 | 24 Comments

Haiku to Fish:
It was never my intention to neglect you
I always had you in mind
Alas, I was preoccupied with meat!

Anyways, I can’t believe in the months following the existence of this blog, I’m now just cooking fish. I can’t even say how many times I told myself that I was going to go get some fish to cook. As you can tell, it never did happen till now.

I have nothing against fish, I didn’t like it before, because I just thought it was one of those bland dishes that didn’t take too well to seasoning. Well, I was proved wrong by trial and error in the kitchen.

For fish steaks, I prefer catfish w/ the skin on, although the ones I cooked already had the skin peeled off. Tilapia, I’m not too fond of, simply because it has too many bones, unless of course, you get the fillets, but most of the time I get fish, it’s usually the steaks. I do have some whole tilapia in the freezer that I will be cooking soon. It’s going to be a fishy week!

And the beauty of making fish, it really doesn’t take long to cook. You really can’t beat that on a hungry day!

To make fish soup, here’s what you’ll need:

8-10 catfish OR tilapia steaks (I used catfish)
2 large red bell peppers
4 scotch bonnet peppers/ habanero
2 tomatoes
1/2 large red onion
5 cloves garlic
Ginger (size of garlic cloves)
3.5 cups water
3 knorr cubes
1 tbsp Goya Adobo seasoning w/pepper
2 tbsps kosher salt
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup palm oil

*Steaks are simply the fancy schmancy name for cut-up fish.

**Fish soup is of a more watery consistency than meat/chicken stew.

***4 scotch bonnet peppers sounds like a lot, but it’ll get watered down and you want to retain some heat.

1. Rinse and clean fish in cool/room temperature water. Once thoroughly cleaned of any fish gunk, drain & sprinkle salt over fish. Work salt into fish. Cover fish with cool/room temperature water for 20-25 minutes. *This is so the salt seeps into the fish and helps season it somewhat*.

2. Quarter bell peppers, onion and tomatoes. Add to blender w/ scotch bonnet peppers, garlic and ginger along with one cup water. Blend thoroughly till liquefied.

3. Heat oils in pot till smoking hot (literally). Add blended mix carefully. Cover and let cook over medium heat for 45 minutes (check and add 1 cup water every 15-20 minutes, if this is not done, your soup consistency will be too thick).

4. At this point, drain salt water from fish (don’t leave fish in salted water too long, otherwise once the fish is cooked, it’ll be tough!… trust me on this one… trial and error teaches you things!). Around the 30 minute mark, add the knorr cubes and Adobo seasoning to boiling pepper. Stir and let cook another 10 minutes.

5. Add fish, let cook another 10-15 minutes till fish starts to flake. Turn off heat and remove from stove to another cool burner. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Fish soup is normally served with white rice or eaten with okra soup and eba. I prefer it with rice and plantain/dodo as evidenced below:


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Rating: 8.3/10 (21 votes cast)
Nigerian Fish Soup (Obe Eja), 8.3 out of 10 based on 21 ratings

24 Responses to "Nigerian Fish Soup (Obe Eja)"

  1. Stacey says:

    Can you use any fish to make this, for instance, Salmon?


    • Yetunde says:

      Hi Stacey!

      For fish soup, I prefer bone in fish as opposed to fish fillets. If you prefer though, you can use fillets; salmon, tilapia all work.

      Hope that helps! :)

      • Stacey says:

        I actually have wild salmon steaks…so hopefully it shouldn’t be too bad.

        Thank you so much…Your site is really helpful!! :-)

        • Yetunde says:

          You’re very welcome and thank you! Let me know how it turns out :)

          • Stacey says:

            Just made it…it taste fantastic!!

            I marinated the salmon steak and left it overnight – grilled it in the oven and put it in the stew about 6mins before the stew was ready.

          • Yetunde says:

            Hey lady!

            Niiice! Sounds so yummy too!

    • Rosemary says:

      Thanks for teh trip down Memory Lane…..Lived in Nigeria for teh first twenty years of my life and miss all the Nigerian dishes. Will have a go at these, keep posting them, much appreciated ;)

      • Yetunde says:

        Hey Rosemary!

        You’re welcome! Keep me posted on how they turnout :)

  2. Courtney says:

    That looks great! I was wondering do you have a recipe for catfish pepper soup or even chicken or goatmeat? I dont know what spices to use or even to cook it.

    • Yetunde says:

      Peppersoup has been on my list for a good minute. It pretty easy to make and the spices used are a bit different from spices used in regular, everday Naija food cooking.

      I’ll push it to the top of my list, so I can feature it sooner :)

  3. Sayomi Ifeoluwa says:

    i tried cooking the fish soup just exactly as u illustrated and wow, it got people licking their fingers.

    • Yetunde says:

      Yay! Glad it turned out good! Speaking of fish soup, it’s been a while I had some!

  4. courtney says:

    Can you make this with both kind of fish? Tilapia and catfish I want to mix it?

    • Yetunde says:

      You can use both kinds of fish. I don’t think it matters, if at all.

  5. courtney says:

    I just got done making this and it was good!! I’ll make this again for sure.

    • Yetunde says:

      Yay! Glad it turned out well, especially enough for you to want to make again! ;)

  6. abdul says:

    can I do this with king fish or jack fish?

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Abdul!

      Yes, you can make the soup with either King or Jack fish. Just be sure to cut them up into steaks or as in the photo.

  7. Ayomide says:

    Thanks a million ! I`m 11. My mom is always complining I don`t know how to cook.

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Ayomide!

      I think you’ll be the youngest reader so far! 11! Oh my! I’m sure she doesn’t mean to complain, just teasing you into learning how to cook. If you start now, you’ll be a pro in your twenties, so be your mum’s little helper whenever you can! ;) My mum started like that with me ;)

  8. Helen says:

    Do you mean 2 fresh tomatoes or 2 tins of tomatoes? Want to try this recipe looks good.

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Helen!

      I mean fresh tomatoes. I typically never used canned tomatoes because of the preservatives.

      Let me know how it turns out!

  9. Abi says:

    Thanks a lot for the recipe. Your blog is amazing!

    • Yetunde says:

      Hey Abi,

      You’re welcome and thanks hun!

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