The Ibibio people are known to have several delicious cuisines in which Abak Atama is one special dish. It is native to Akwa Ibom in Southern Nigeria. Its name is derived from the two main ingredients: Palm fruit concentrate (Abak) and Atama leaves. The palm fruit concentrates makes it similar to the Banga soup (oil palm fruit soup) of the Niger Deltans and the Ofe Akwu of the Igbo people. The only difference is in the spices and vegetables used for each of these soups. The soup is highly nutritional and rich in taste as a result of its long list of ingredients including seafood. You just have to visit the Ibibios to have a feel of this sumptuous delicacy.
The ingredients for Abak Atama soup include palm fruit concentrate, beef, cow skin (ponmo), smoked fish, dry fish, stockfish, atama leaves, onion, crayfish, unshelled periwinkles, habanero pepper, seasoning cubes and salt.
Extract the palm fruit concentrate from the palm fruits. Cut the onions into rings, blend the fresh fish pepper, wash and cut the ponmo into small pieces and set aside. Soak, remove the bones and clean the dry fish. Rinse in cold water, then break into pieces and set aside. Cut off the pointed ends of the shells with the blunt side of a machete. Wash them thoroughly to remove all sand. Wash several times till the water runs clear. Place the periwinkles in a pot, cover with water and boil for about 10 minutes. Drain off the water and set the periwinkles aside. Wash the atama leaves thoroughly and cut into thin slices. Make sure you clean all meats thoroughly.
Place the pieces of beef, ponmo and stock fish in a pot. Parboil the meat with onion, stock cubes and salt. Add the dry fish when it is almost done. Pour the extracted palm fruit concentrate in another pot and start cooking on high heat. Leave it to boil till you notice some red oil at the top of the palm fruit. Cook till the extract has thickened to a medium consistency. Add the cooked meat and fish with the stock, crayfish, pepper, the precooked periwinkles, atama leaves and a pinch of salt. Allow to cook for some minutes, thereafter, it is done and ready to be served.
Serve Abak Atama soup with any Nigerian swallow of your choice. Enjoy with your favorite drink. Bon appetite!