Ekpang Nkwukwo; a cocoyam delicacy

Ekpang Nkwukwo; a cocoyam delicacy

Hmm…! Ekpang nkwukwo is made from cocoyam (taro), is not your every day dish and not everyone can handle it. A labour of love and flair for the intricacies of Naija cuisine (and a bundle of patience) are required to prepare ekpang. I can remember visiting my aunty in Calabar when I was younger.  We would probably eat ekpang once over a 3 week holiday.  Back in Lagos, my mum would rarely prepare it at all.  After I decided to venture into the land of preparation of ekpang nkwukwo I completely understood why.  I spent well over 3 hours preparing the dish before I even got round to lighting up the stove. Oga better count himself lucky. I was in #determined mode when I started relive memories of my past and cook this up. Needless to say it was well worth it.  Ekpang is a delicacy of the Efiks and Ibibios  of South Eastern Nigeria, but it is highly sought after and enjoyed by many across and beyond Nigeria.

There is no ekpang nkwukwo without periwinkles.

This is dried fish. There is also smoked fish which tends to be charred and much harder than this which can also be used. Different kinds of fish comes both dried and smoked in Nigeria.

Here is are the ekpang rolls wrapped in both efo and pumpkin leaves. I couldn’t find cocoyam leaves when I was ready to prepare this dish.

The easy part about cooking this dish is that you can literally put everything in your cooking pot all at once and start cooking.
Ekpang takes so long to prepare, but so little time to consume. I could only take a few shots of the finished dish before I had to put my camera away and dig in.


1kg Cocoyam, peeled, washed and grated

100g Wateryam (optional – I skipped this), peeled, washed and grated

Fresh Cocoyam (ugwu in Ibo) leaves (substitute with spinach or pumpkin leaves. I used pumpkin leaves)

500g Beef (substitute or add goat meat snails or fish – all optional. I skipped these)

300g Dried fish

200g Stockfish, slightly cooked (optional. I skipped this)

3/4cup Crayfish

4 Chili Pepper to taste (optional and amount are up to you)

3 stock cubes

Salt to taste

2 medium onions

2 cups Palm Oil

2tbsp scent leaf (still trying to figure out what leaf this is) chopped (substitute mint or fresh basil)

Pre-prep: Beef, periwinkles and smoked fish

  1. Season and boil the beef (or your chosen meat, chicken) and create the stock (if you are using beef)
  2. Top and tail the periwinkles.  Cook the shelled periwinkle for approximately 5 minutes in salted water and then clean properly and set aside
  3. Soak the smoked fish in hot water and salt and clean thoroughly to remove any grit

Pre-prep Cocoyam

Caution: Raw cocoyam has the tendency to itch or irritate your skin. You may want to wear latex gloves when preparing this dish.

  1. Peel, wash and grate the cocoyam into a bowl – it will have a pudding-like consistency
  2. Peel, wash and grate the water yam and add to the cocoyam in a bowl (the water yam I purchased was too watery so I skipped it)
  3. Season the yam mixture by crumbling 2 stock cubes,  ½ tablespoon of salt and a table spoon of palm oil
  4. Mix the seasoning evenly through the yam
  5. Wash the cocoyam leaves, pumpkin leaves (or substitutes) thoroughly in water and drain in a colander
  6. Pick the leaves off the stems, place a small amount of the yam mixture into each leaf and wrap


  1. Place the cleaned periwinkles in bottom of a medium cooking pan – line the pan with the periwinkles
  2. Layer the (ekpang) wraps on top of the periwinkles in the pan. You will eventually have several layers
  3. Add in the dried fish, chopped onions, diced peppers, crumbled stock cubes, ground dried cray fish, scent leaf, salt, and palm oil
  4. Add the 3 cup of water and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes
  5. Stir slightly and continue to cook for another 10 minutes
  6. Taste the ekpang to ensure that it is cooked properly, if not add a little more water and cook for a few more minutes longer on low heat
  7. When ready, serve piping hot in a bowl


  1. catherine

    Sounds tasty but the prep time is looooooooooooooong!!
    The scent leaves are probably what we call efiri in Yoruba

  2. yummm also known as ikokore or Ifokore to the yorubas yyyyeeahhhhh 🙂

  3. I am just having some now..It is prepared the same way in Cameroon although the spelling is slightly different.. “ekwang”… It is hard labour when preparing it.. I commend your effort.
    The title of your blog is so catchy…lol

    • Madam Chef

      Good for you Miss B. Ibibio and Efiklands are very close to the boarder with Cameroun so this is no surprise. Glad to see that artificial boarders don’t in the way of great food.

  4. Mbok, I want to believe you reside in Nigeria. right? Because i would be lost as to how to find all the ingridients for ekpang outside Nigeria. Ekpang is hard work but it is DIVINE! Its a tradition back home for us to eat this for dinner on sundays *sigh* I miss Nigeria!


  5. Chioma Afigbo

    Hi Affy! I finally summed up the courage to try your recipe and I’m proud to say I succeeded after serious hard labour :D. It is delicious!! Thanks!!! My husband is going to be very happy tonight 😀

  6. Chioma Afigbo

    He loved it! Currently cleaning out the plate:D

  7. This is lovely but what is the reasoning behind wrapping the cocoyam in leaves when you will stir it all up & it will come out as it is in your photographs? I am thinking it will be the same if you place leaves over the periwinkles spoon your cocoyam mixture on it and add another single layer of leaves! what do you think?

    • Zee this is the way it has been traditionally made. Like my grand and great grandmothers used to. The cocoyam may stick and get really gooey. You don’t completely stir ekpang when cooking. You should fold ingredients so as not to completely scatter them. That said do experiment. That’s what cooking is about.

  8. It’s not easy to find wateryam wia I live only cocoyam, and I have been longing to prepare ekpang cuz I back in calabar I never saw mumsy prepare ekpang witout wateryam. But now that I have seen this I’ll go ahead and prepare my ekpang mbok! Thanks dear.

    • Madam Chef

      You have to go with what you find and make it work. I try to keep the ingredients simple while still creating the original dish so anyone anywhere can make them. I hope it turns out well. Do share when you’re done.

  9. Scent leaves=nchanwu in Igbo…

  10. I want to ask o, how will the ekpang stay rapped in d leaves without the leaves opening up? Thanks

  11. Such hard work, but so worth the effort.

  12. Nchanwu is African basil leaves. I will have to try this some day.

  13. just had it for dinner after a very looooooooooong time..,……..Delicious!

  14. Its very delicious if u can prepare it well. Please point of correction instead of the pumpkin leave use Green leave (Efo)or cocoyam leave.
    Preparation: Rub a little palm oil inside the pot and then spread ur periwinkes under the pot. then u rap ur cocoyam and wateryam (Note wateryam is not optional it not it will be strong) but meanwhile season the cocoyam with salt only. completing the rapping of the cocoyam. place in on the stove. Pour ur hot boiling water into the pot (Note don’t use cold water) after steaming for like 5 minutes then u put ur ingredients and palm oil including the cut scent leave and a little green leave maybe the remaining one. then stir and allow to cook for 5 minutes again after u put it down. Now enjoy it.

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  17. Wow I like this…Joy just to say ekwang
    as we spell it here can be cooked without
    water yam. We Cameroonians cook it without
    water yam and believe me it’s not soft. I’m glad
    discovered it Is cooked with water yam too.
    Can’t wait to try It out

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