Catfish recipe: How to cook catfish pepper soup (Nigerian food)

Photo of Catfish recipe: How to cook catfish pepper soup (Nigerian food)

Catfish can be prepared in many ways such as boiled, grilled, baked and fried catfish. Another easy way of preparing catfish is to make it into pepper soup. There are so many delicious foods to prepare with catfish apart from pepper soup, you can prepare stew, sauce, okra soups, cakes, nugget, sandwich with catfish, and also you can make catfish and yam pepper soup combo, which is another delicious catfish recipes with no addition of palm oil as its often done with the usual yam porridge, also, catfish is mostly paired with agidi.

Catfish pepper soup is a savoury fish broth prepared with catfish and different spices, catfish pepper soup is very particular with Nigerians, it is often sold in restaurants and in few food joints .Catfish pepper soup has a very unique flavour, and it is usually cooked within 15- 20 within minutes because of the soft and flaky nature of the fish.

A plate of Nigerian catfish pepper soup
A plate of Nigerian catfish pepper soup


Catfish pepper soup is another healthy way of cooking catfish aside grilling as you have the chance to add some healthy spices of your choice. Traditionally some of the spices used for making catfish pepper soup are known to be of help both to the sick and new mothers. This soup is one of the best recommended pepper soups for mothers who had newly given birth as they have the chance to drink most of the spicy juices or broth that was used to prepare the fish. There are other pepper soups In Nigeria aside catfish pepper soup, such soups include: goat meatassorted meat, chicken, shrimps, snails and beef pepper soups.

Catfish pepper soup is usually made into a watery consistency with a little splash of herbs or vegetables, to enable the eater drink most of the savoury broth which was used to cook the fish. It is a perfect combo for boiled white rice or pasta too.

Another important recipe made with catfish is – okra and catfish soup. This is usually prepared with few ladys fingers and with little ground egusi, this soup is usually loved by both old and young as it is extremely tasty and flavourful. There is so much to be prepared with catfish apart from pepper soup. However, I’m just going to dwell on catfish pepper soup and I will leave the other catfish recipes for another day.

Additionally, when using catfish to prepare soup, always remember that catfish has a lot spiky bones; you can simply steam the fish lightly and remove some of the bones before adding it to your soup. This may be of help to you especially for your younger kids who may not have the ability to select the bones by themselves.

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How to clean/wash catfish

Although catfish is very easy to cook, the annoying aspect lies on the area of cleaning it, this has made a lot of people to visit restaurants for this pepper soup rather than making it at home. This aspect seems very easy to me though, because I was able to figure out three unique ways of cleaning catfish before now, and I am ready to help someone who is in love with catfish pepper soup but has no idea on how to clean the fish.

To clean catfish you will either need salt, hot water or lime juice to get the work done easily

  1. Lime/lemon method
  2. Salt method
  3. And hot water method

Lime/lemon- lemon juice has an acidic properties which is able to remove the slimy substance from catfish easily, the juice binds the sticky liquid as it comes in contact with the fish, thereby making it simpler to clean the fish skin,. This happens too when you use hot water to wash catfish, the temperature of the water decreases the density of the slimy juice, thereby making the substance to curdle on the fish body for easy cleansing. Salt too has an abrasive property, which is able to reduce the viscosity of a substance easily.

How to

  • Cut the fish into preferred sizes and squeeze out one lemon juice on the fish. You will notice the fish becoming stiff and the thick slimy substance curdles together, making it easy to pull out. Gently scrub out the slimy substance and rinse the fish in clean water.
  • If you are using hot water, boil 2 cups of water on a stove top, let the water be moderately hot but dont let it boil, pour the moderately hot water over the catfish, you will notice the fish becoming harden, this will make it easy to wash out the slimy surface out.
  • The same thing goes with the salt method, only that the salt method is less effective compared to the lemon and hot water method, as you will need to use a lot of salt on the fish and you will also so need to scrub the fish severally before you finally clean the slimy substance out completely.
  • After using any of the above method to wash catfish, remove the intestines and the gills, you will also notice some whitish fats in the fish, those parts form the eggs, and some people eat that part of the fish, if you dont like that particular part, take them off and rinse the fish into a medium pot.

Catfish pepper soup ingredients

  1. 1 big sized catfish cut into 4 parts or more
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 seasoning cubes, Knorr cubes)
  5. 3 calabash nutmeg (ehu seeds), blended
  6. 3- 4 scotch bonnet pepper, blended
  7. 4 pieces of uziza seeds (optional), blended
  8. Small amount of uziza leaves/ spring onions/ scent leaves (nchawu), chopped
  9. Salt to taste

Procedures for cooking catfish pepper soup

  1. Season catfish with 2 seasoning cubes, pepper, onions and garlic and leave the fish to rest and absorb the ingredients for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Place the fish on a medium heat and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup of water to the fish and lower the heat to a medium heat to cook gently
  4. Add ground nutmeg, uziza seed if using that, and taste for salt. Leave the fish to cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Finally, add the chopped scent leaves or uziza leaves and carefully stir the fish to combine with the other ingredients.
  6. Let the leaf at least cook for 5minutes, put of heat and serve your catfish pepper soup hot.
After seasoning catfish, leave it to absorb all the seasonings before cooking it
After seasoning catfish, leave it to absorb all the seasonings before cooking it


You can follow these easy steps to make catfish pepper soup

  1. Season your catfish with Knorr cubes, onions, pepper, garlic and salt and leave to rest for at most 15 minutes.

2. Bring the fish on heat and allow the fish to cook on a medium heat for five minutes before adding water.

3. Add 1 cup of water to the fish and add some nutmeg or any other traditional season of your choice and lower the heat for the fish to cook slowly.

Cooking of catfish
Cooking of catfish


4. Add scent leaves, stir gently and let the fish simmer on a low heat for at least 5 minutes. You can leave the fish a bit longer and serve it while its on the stove; this is to allow more flavour to diffuse out while it cooks.

Note: Catfish does not like much heat as a result of its flaky flesh, if you leave it too long on heat, Im sorry to say that you may hardly pick out one whole fish out of the pot, despite your hard labour. It is best you take it off from heat as soon as possible or leave it on a very low heat to cook through.

Adding of uziza leaves to catfish pepper soup
Adding of uziza leaves to catfish pepper soup


After adding the leaves to the catfish pepper soup, stir gently to avoid breaking the fish
After adding the leaves to the catfish pepper soup, stir gently to avoid breaking the fish


5. Enjoy your catfish pepper soup with boil rice or agidi and chilled drink.

Serve catfish pepper soup while it's still hot with boiled rice
Serve catfish pepper soup while it’s still hot with boiled rice