Fisherman’s okra soup

Fisherman’s okra soup

So, my maternal grandfather was a fisherman apparently (I never got to meet him) and he used to fish as far off as the islands of Sao Tome and Principe (so I was told), but aside from that my family comes from riverine area of South Eastern Nigeria now known as the Akwa Ibom and Cross River States. Although I didn’t spend that much time there when I was  younger, we did get to eat lots of dishes made with seafood in our house. To top it off I grew up in East Anglia in the UK and we lived minutes away from the sea and I spent many a summer’s day with my brother fishing for whatever sea creature would get caught in my net. Anyway, I decided to try my hand at making okra soup. I had woken up early last Saturday morning to hit the fish market at Makoko in Lagos and I came back with a gorgeous stash of fresh seafood. So, of course, not all of it was destined for my deep freezer!  I just had to cook something with fish and the prawns at least. On the way back from the fish market I stopped over at the fruit and vegetable market on my way home  and found the greenest and plumpest looking okra I’ve seen this year. So soup it was, with fresh seafood and fresh vegetables. Here it is. A take on Nigerian okra soup which I dedicate to all the fishermen out there.

nigerian food blog - okra

While cooking, the one thing I make sure I do is get all my prep work done before I even turn on the stove. It makes preparing dishes so much quicker and prevents me from realising that I didn’t clean, cut, or chop something the moment it’s due to be added to the pan.

nigerian food blog - okra soup

The best thing about preparing this dish was that it was done in just about 30 minutes and you can literally add any and every kind of seafood you like into it. Now you can’t beat that!

Nigerian food blog - okra soup


1kg Fresh fish (of your choice)

2kg Fresh Nigerian tiger prawns

500g Dried fish or smoked fish (or both)

500g Stockfish (optional)

1 cup Crayfish

3-4 Habanero peppers

1/2 kg Fresh spinach or pumpkin leaves (ugwu)

100g Fresh basil leaves

2 Medium onions

1 cooking spoon of Palm oil

Salt to taste


  • Clean and wash the fresh fish, shrimps and dried fish
  • Place the smoked, stock and dried fish in a pan with 4 cups of water and boil for 15 minutes. (If you are adding stock fish, this needs to be cooked first for about 45 minutes until it softens then add the rest of the dried fish)
  • Chop the onions into large chunks, chop the peppers and fresh basil
  • Clean and grind the dried cray fish in a food processor
  • Add in the fresh fish, tiger prawns to the boiled dry fish, along with the chopped onions and peppers and dried cray fish and allow to cook for 5 minutes
  • Add in the okra and using a folding action mix these in gently with the rest of the ingredients. Cook the soup for another 5-7 minutes until the okra is al dente
  • Pour in the palm oil and cook for another 5 minutes
  • Wash and chop the fresh spinach or pumpkin leaves and add these to the soup and allow to cook for another 5-7 minutes
  • Remove from the heat and serve the soup while hot. An accompanying starch (Garri, our pounded yam is optional)



  1. I must say Madame Chef, this is the first time I’m gonna read and feel confident enough to try, this looks absolutle delicious and I am most definitely gonna try this recipe, in fact this week! Thanks for sharing as usual!

  2. Wow! Love this blog. Definitely going to try this.

  3. Madam Chef

    Try it ladies. It was really easy to make. Would love to hear about and see your results.

  4. I have been hearing about this seafood okra thing! I need to try it! It looks amazing!

  5. Oh my goodness, you made okra soup look even more appetizing! See the positioning of that shrimp … close enough for me to grab. Yum!

  6. Hi. At no point on the recipe do you do you mention the Okra. How much is needed and when do you add it to the soup? Thanks

  7. From a fisherman’s point of view, u got us well served. There’s no better way it could be done. Thanks for sharing this cuisine

  8. Madam Chef

    Hi @Christine. I’ve updated this post to reflect when to add the okra. Thanks for catching that.

  9. Great blog, recipes, and photos. I’ll definitely be trying some of these ideas. You deserve your own show!

    • Nbee thanks! You’re like the umpteenth person that has said that. I guess I better get working on those videos. Stay tuned.

  10. learner

    what is the other name for fresh basil?

  11. MealsPro

    I would make it with periwinkles, ngolo is little snails and add washed bitter leaf not completely sweet. The okro I will boil separately with potash to keep the okro green and end the soup with a little sliced Uziza leaves in the place of pumpkin leaves(Ugu). Tasty!!!

  12. The recipe looks wonderful. How much Okra did you use for the recipe?

  13. Nice one,

  14. Cooked this several times now and it is becoming a bit of my signature dish to treat family and friends when the come over. My wife also has a way of asking for it: “oh, been a while since you made that fisherman okra!”

    I go with a variety of seafood – large and jumbo prawns, calamari, hake, cod, haddock. I tried thai basil and it seemed even nicer than regular basil and I make more as a soup eaten with a spoon and the pounded yam a bit of the side dish. Been absolute gem of a recipe.

    • Madam Chef

      Wonderful to hear! Next time I make it I’ll try your version with a variety of seafood. That’s a brilliant idea.

  15. Hmmm just prepared it now true to description…very nice.Thanks

  16. I just discovered your blog and it’s gorgeous. I’m trying this tmrw.

  17. This is the wickedest picture of okra I have ever seen ! Can’t this just abracadabra it’s way into my kitchen!

  18. Chi Okolo

    I used to think I was a little weird, but after accidentally finding your site, I am absolutely estatic I found someone just like me. Like you, I grew up with my mom in the kitchen, but my mom was very traditional. I always wanted to try to add new things to a dish and arrange it in a different fashion and she would quickly shut my program down. When I finally left for college and had my own place, I became an adventurous spirit and truly honed my cooking skills – taking the Nigerian food I was used to and blending it with Thai, Mediterranean, and Indian food. All about taking the old, enhancing it, making it delicious, and finding ways to create new things with the fruits, vegetables, and spices I run into. Thank you for taking the time to blog. I truly appreciate what you do and I will be coming back :*)

  19. My hubby and i were at Yellow Chilli’ the day before and the soup was so awesome i had to make mine….and this is how i found this blog. I Cooked mine with a little Locust beans…when the man was done eating, he asked of I ordered from Yellow chilli again.
    So this must mean it came out fantastic.

    I’ve pined this site to my favorites and will be trying out more recipes from here….

  20. wow! im a good cook but ive never tried this recipe. i think is high time i improved my delicacy. i love what u did. i feel good and have much confidence in myself for this food. lemme give it a try! thanks lovely chef

  21. Joy oladimeji

    This is wonderful, God bless you.

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