Crayfish; The best Organic Food Seasoning from the Sea

Crayfish; the Best Organic Food Seasoning from the Sea

Crayfish; the Best organic Food Seasoning from the Sea

 

Crayfish, also known as Crawfish in some parts of the world, but a much smaller specie of crawfish, could easily be mistaken for one of those ingredients that don’t add much to a dish. Firstly, they’re really small, so they’re hardly anyone’s choice of protein, because come on, who wants these guys lying around in their plates, when there’s Lobster, Pork chops, or a nice juicy steak? So let’s just say they don’t fit into that league. So crayfish had to carve out a niche for itself. Now no other food can do what it does, at least not when it comes to Nigerian cuisine.

Somehow, sometime, for some reason, in Nigeria, our fore fathers or mothers; since men didn’t as much as know the location of the kitchen in those days, because at the time in Africa, they believed the kitchen was a woman’s place. Anyway, our “fore mothers”, discovered how to enhance the flavours of our local cuisine by adding dried ground crayfish to their foods. Ever since, there’s hardly any local Nigerian cuisine that doesn’t have crayfish in it. Now we have ovens which makes drying crayfish less cumbersome, but who wants to do all that when they’re all over the market. Although, if you’re a D.I.Y (Do It Yourself) kinda person, then here’s a link to how you can dry your crayfish at home http://www.allnigerianrecipes.com/food-ingredients/crayfish.html

I remember when I was in boarding school. The dinning hall food was mostly terrible. So when we went home for the holidays, we’ll grind some crayfish and put it in a container. Then sneak it in with the rest of our luggage when school resumes. During lunch or dinner, we sprinkled some of the ground crayfish on our food, and Bam! Just like that, the food tastes okay. You might wonder why just “okay”, after all crayfish is supposed to be an amazing season right? Well, you’ll have to imagine how terrible the food tasted prior to the addition of crayfish.

Bare in mind that crayfish, as little as they look, have a very strong aroma and equally strong flavour. So the quantity you use is dependent on the kind of food you’re making. For local nigerian soups like Afang, Edikang ikong; the names are a mouthful but they are absolutely delicious. But don’t take my word for it, look how amazing they look in these photos, and try to use your mind to taste them.

 

Nigerian Vegetable Soups
Edikang ikong and Afang soup respectively

Also Egusi (ground melon seed) soup. Now this is one soup which you can’t afford to scrimp on the crayfish. It plays a very important role in the overall turnout of the soup. No matter how tasty the stock. No matter the variety of meat and smoked or dried fish you use in making egusi soup. If the soup does not have sufficient quantity of crayfish, and when I say ‘sufficient’, I don’t use the word lightly. The soup will turnout to be a sorry disappointment.

Ironically, ground crayfish as a seasoning, doesn’t work as well when it comes to nigerian Fresh Seafood Soups. Especially in one of the most amazing seafood soups you will ever taste, if you haven’t tried it already. Fisherman Soup (recipe coming soon)-originated from the Efik tribe of Nigeria.

Fisherman's Soup
Fisherman’s Soup

Fisherman soup has absolutely no crayfish in it. This is because the delicious flavours of the fresh seafood, can easily be masked by the strong and imposing flavour of the crayfish. What’s the point of having Fisherman Soup if you can’t taste the fresh seafood?

In conclusion, crayfish gives our local cuisine the characteristic and unforgettable “local nigerian flavour”. That’s why we even use it as a seasoning in some of our rice dishes. To you out there who has never tried a dish that has been properly seasoned with ground crayfish, add it to your bucket list. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Yes, I’m also a farmer! (A dedication to my dad, a farmer at heart)

Yes, I'm also a Farmer (A dedication to my Dad: a farmer at heart)
Happy Cattles

Where it all began

Yes, I’m a farmer. Foods and their origin, has always been a passion of mine. It probably stems from the fact that my dad used to always look for a reason to plant something somewhere.

When I was little, we lived in a quaint town called Ahoada, in Rivers state, Nigeria. Our house wasn’t big but we made lots of fun memories. One of which was the compulsory farming expedition we embarked on almost every weekend. I’m sure you’re thinking we traveled to some faraway village to farm, Nope! The farm was about 10 feet away from the house, and also on the side of the house. We had neighbors living behind, or else daddy would’ve turned the backyard into a farm, like he did with the front and the side.

We grew plantains; huge ones, banana, cassava; large tubers (now that I think about it, everything we planted on that land, seemed to produce abnormally large fruit). There was this one time, my dad tried to uproot a cassava tuber but failed, because the tuber was over 7 feet long, and quite large, making it difficult for one man to uproot.  We also planted corn, and like that wasn’t enough, my mum had a flower garden (that was the first time I heard about, and saw the flower called “queen of the night”, because it only released it’s fragrance at night- stingy much??) My mum also had a poultry, with huge broiler cocks and hens that were about the size of adolescent goats.

So  on some Saturday’s, we put on our rain boots, matched to our little farm, and got to work. My dad made each of us responsible for one plantain or banana tree. I had a plantain tree. I’ll tell you something guys, planting seed in the ground, nurturing it, and watching it grow; the feeling is indescribable. I believe that’s when my love for agriculture and food began.

I had reasons to hate farming. For example, in secondary school, agriculture was one of the subjects I majored in. I had a really good agric teacher, I mean the man knew his onions, literally and figuratively. He appointed me class prefect for agric, and I felt like the Don Corleone of agriculture, that was until the day I showed up to class late. Oh that day was a bad day for me. Firstly, he didn’t let me in the class, which was quite embarrassing for a Don like me. When the class ended, he used a thick wooden ruler to flog the dread of late coming into my life. He didn’t flog me on the palm of my hand, that would’ve being humane. He flogged the back of my fingers, right on the bones, with the edge of the ruler. The pain, oh the pain! Anyway, it still didn’t deter my love for agriculture. Needless to say, I abdicated my throne as Don. Nothing could change my love for agriculture though, and now I am a proud farmer amongst other things. I don’t own acres of farm land yet, but I’m getting there.

What does all this have to do with the photo above? I took this picture in our local cattle depot in Port Harcourt city. My partners (who happen to be members of my family) in  the farming business and I, just got word that our cows had arrived. So we wanted to see them, sort of sample the merchandise, before selling them to some lucky stranger. Unfortunately, the gate was the farthest I could go. I saw their pointy horns, and the look on their faces, and decided that standing at the gate, which was both the entrance and the exit, was good enough for me. It would’ve been unfortunate if I decided to go in and the cows decided to lock horns with me, guess which side will lose. Yep! Definitely the hornless side. So we didn’t get to see our cows up close, but just know that somewhere in the midst of the brown cows stood ours, mooing away for joy.

I love farming because come rain or shine, black, white, or brown, vegan, vegetarian, or non-vegetarian, the one thing we all have in common is Food.

I hope that one day, my country will return to its first love, agriculture. There’s a reason God gave us a land so rich in nutrients, almost anything can grow in it.

One of the few things I’ve learned about farming recently is that, you have to be patient. It is not a get quick-rich-scheme, in fact it is one of the few professions you can not succeed in, if you do not have real passion for it. So many factors are involved in farming, whether crop farming or animal husbandry, that can affect your yield either positively or negatively. So if you know you’ve been bitten by the farming bug, the first thing you need to do is engage the help of an experienced farmer to learn from, as stated here by my fellow farmer https://kalusam.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/6-steps-to-succeed-in-agribusiness-as-a-youth-my-experience-iyd2016/

I’ll be telling you more about farming, and my experiences as a farmer, as time goes on. Who knows, I might just be the nudge you need, to show you that there’s a farmer in you too.

Amongst other things, one of my greatest reasons for loving agriculture is because it reminds me of my dad, and how he loved nature. So I’m dedicating this post to my daddy, a man who if  given the chance, would’ve had his own version of animal farm in his backyard. I love you forever daddy.