Fisherman Soup: All You Need to Know About Efere Ndek Iyak

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If you are a fan of seafood, you will love fisherman soup. This is a delicious and nutritious soup that is made with a variety of fish and other seafood, as well as vegetables and spices. It is a popular dish in many parts of the world, especially in coastal regions where fishing is a common occupation.

In Nigeria, fisherman soup is also known as efere ndek iyak, which means “fish soup” in the Efik language. It is a traditional dish among the Efik people of Akwa Ibom and Cross River states, who live near the Atlantic Ocean and have access to abundant seafood. 

In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about fisherman soup, including its history, origin, nutritional value, health benefits, ingredients, preparation, and consumption. We will also discuss the possible side effects of fisherman soup. So, let’s dive into the delicious world of fisherman soup!

Fisherman Soup: All You Need to Know About Efere Ndek Iyak

What is Fisherman Soup?

Fisherman soup is made with various kinds of fish and other seafood, such as shrimp, lobster, crab, snails, periwinkles, etc. It is usually cooked with a base of onions, pepper, water, and seasonings. The soup is seasoned with salt, pepper, crayfish, uziza seeds, and other spices. It may also contain some vegetables, such as okra, which may be used as thickener.

 It is often thickened with yam or cocoyam paste or flour. Fisherman soup is nutritious and spicy with a rich flavour and aroma. It is usually served hot with any kind of Nigerian swallow (e.g., eba, amala, fufu, semo, tuwo) but can also be eaten with rice.

History and Origin of Fisherman (Efere Ndek Iyak) Soup

The origin of fisherman soup can be traced back to when fishermen would go to sea for long periods and catch various kinds of fish and seafood. They would then cook their catch over an open fire on the river banks using whatever ingredients they had. They would also share their soup with their fellow fishermen and their families to celebrate their catch and their livelihood.

Over time, the recipe for fisherman soup evolved and became more refined as the Efik people incorporated more ingredients and spices into their soup. They also developed different variations of the soup depending on the type and quantity of seafood they used. 

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Today, fisherman soup is popular among the Efik people and other Nigerians who enjoy seafood.

Nutritional Value of Fisherman Soup

Fisherman soup is a high-calorie and high-protein dish that can provide energy and satiety for a long time. However, it is also high in fat and sodium, which can be unhealthy if consumed excessively. The calorie and macronutrient content of fisherman’s soup may vary depending on the type and quantity of ingredients used, but here is an approximate estimation based on a typical recipe for Fisherman’s Soup (per 100g):

  • Total Fat 3.03g (36% DV) 
  • Saturated Fat 0.99g 
  • Cholesterol 20.27mg (52% DV) 
  • Sodium 99.78mg (32% DV) 
  • Potassium 99.2mg (16% DV) 
  • Total Carbohydrates 3.61g (9% DV) 
  • Dietary Fiber 0.37g (11% DV) 
  • Sugars 0.68g Protein 3.93g (61% DV)
  • Vitamins: Vitamin C 3.3mg (43% DV)
  • Minerals: Calcium 14.2mg (11% DV) Iron 0.2mg (10% DV)

Note: % Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet.

As you can see, fisherman’s soup is a good source of protein, which can help to build and repair muscles, tissues, and organs. However, fisherman’s soup is also high in fat, saturated fat from palm oil, which can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease if consumed in excess. It is also high in sodium, which can cause dehydration, hypertension, kidney damage, and stroke if consumed in excess

It is advisable to consume fisherman soup in moderation and balance it with other foods low in fat and sodium, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.

Health Benefits of Fisherman Soup

Fisherman’s soup contains multiple ingredients that boost immunity and overall health:

  • Fish and shellfish provide omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and support immune cell function. They also supply vitamins A, D, and B12 and minerals like zinc and selenium that maintain resistant barriers and white blood cell activity.
  • Spices like uziza seeds contain antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compounds that prevent infections. Other seasonings add antiviral and antiparasitic properties.
  • Vegetables like okra contain antioxidants and fiber that regulate the gut microbiome’s role in immunity.

The combination of fish, spices, and vegetables provides a powerhouse of nutrients that boost immunity while promoting heart and brain function. The diversity of ingredients promotes whole-body wellness.

List of Ingredients for Efere Ndek Iyak

Efere ndek iyak is a specific variation of fisherman soup that is popular among the Efik people of Akwa Ibom and Cross River states in Nigeria. It is made with a combination of fish and seafood, such as catfish, tilapia, croaker, snail, periwinkle, shrimp, crab, etc.

The essential ingredients for efere ndek iyak are:

Main Ingredients:

  • Fresh catfish
  • Prawn or shrimp
  • Periwinkle snails (isam)
  • Stockfish (optional)
  • Dried fish (optional)
  • Oil


  • Ground uziza seed
  • Shredded uziza leaves
  • Onion
  • Ground crayfish
  • Pepper
  • Seasoning cubes
  • Salt to taste


  • Yam or Cocoyam
  • Sliced Okra (optional)

How to Cook/Prepare Fisherman Soup

Once all the ingredients are ready, Efere Ndek Iyak is a simple and easy soup to make. Here is a step-by-step guide to making Fisherman soup:

  1. Clean and wash the fish and put it in a pot; add a little water and chopped onion with pepper and seasoning cube and boil it until they are soft and tender.
  2. Boil the yam or cocoyam and mash it, then set it aside.
  3. Heat the palm oil in a pot over medium-high heat until it is hot but not smoking.
  4. Add the chopped onions and fry for about 2 minutes until soft and golden.
  5. Add the peppers and fry for another 2-3 minutes,
  6. Add the water or stock from the fish and continue to boil the stock.
  7. Put salt, pepper, crayfish, uziza seeds, and other seasonings and stir well to combine.
  8. Add the fish and seafood and reduce the heat. Simmer for 5–10 minutes or until the fish and seafood are well mixed and tender.
  9. Add the thickener, which can be yam, cocoyam, or okra, and stir well to dissolve any lumps and prevent burning. Simmer for another 10 minutes or until the soup is thickened to your liking.
  10. Adjust the seasoning if needed, and turn off the heat.
  11. Serve hot with any Nigerian swallow (e.g., eba, amala, fufu, semo, tuwo) or rice.
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How to Enjoy/Eat Ofe Fisherman Soup

Fisherman soup is a delicious dish that can be enjoyed in various ways. Some of the best ways to serve and eat the soup are:

  • Eba
  • Amala
  • Fufu
  • Tuwo
  • Rice:
  • You can choose to eat the soup with Palm wine as it goes well with the soup.
  • You can also enjoy the soup with any fruit juice of your choice.

Side Effects/Disadvantages of Fisherman Soup

Fisherman soup is highly beneficial to the health, and the pros always outweigh the cons, but it is worth knowing that the soup may have some effects or disadvantages when you eat it. Below are some of the effects you may experience when you eat the soup:

  • This soup contains fish, shellfish, Okra, and palm oil, which are potential allergens. If you are allergic or sensitive to these ingredients, you should avoid this dish or request modifications. Fish and shellfish allergies can cause severe reactions like anaphylaxis. Okra and palm oil may cause milder symptoms like rashes, nausea, or diarrhea in some individuals. To enjoy this soup safely, check the ingredients for your allergens and notify the cook of any necessary substitutions or omissions. Making a few simple adjustments can allow most people to savor the flavors of this soup worry-free.
  • Efere Ndek Iyak is a high-calorie and high-fat dish that may not suit people on a low-calorie or low-fat diet. According to this recipe, one serving of this soup contains about 600 calories and 40 grams of fat. Watch how you consume the soup if you are trying to lose weight or control your cholesterol levels.
  • Efere Ndek Iyak is also a spicy dish that may not be suitable for people with ulcers, gastritis, or acid reflux. The spices used in this soup can irritate the stomach lining and cause heartburn, indigestion, or inflammation. If you have a history of these conditions, you should avoid eating this soup or reduce its spices.
  • Efere Ndek Iyak is also a high-sodium dish that may not be suitable for people with high blood pressure or kidney problems. The salt and seasonings used in this soup can increase blood pressure and fluid retention. Limit how you eat this soup if you have a history of these conditions.
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Frequently Asked Questions:

What Is Fisherman Soup Made Of?

Fisherman soup is made of fish and other seafood as its main ingredients. The type of fish and seafood used in the soup depends on availability and preference. Some common fish and seafood used include catfish, snails, prawns, periwinkles, crabs, etc. The soup is typically thickened with yam, cocoyam, or other starch.

Why Is It Called Fisherman Soup?

Fisherman soup is a dish fishermen and their families prepare using the day’s catch. It was a way of celebrating their successful fishing trips and sharing their bounty with their loved ones, and also because fish is the soup’s main ingredient.

Where Did Fisherman’s Soup Originate?

In Nigeria, fishermen’s soup originated in the Efik and Ibibio, located in the country’s South-South. The Efik and Ibibio people are among the ethnic groups that make up the region, which is rich in natural resources and biodiversity. The area is also home to many rivers, creeks, lagoons, and mangroves, which provide a conducive environment for fishing and aquaculture.

What Are Some Side Dishes That Go Well With Fisherman Soup?

Some side dishes that go well with fisherman’s soup are rice, pounded yam, fufu, or bread. These are starchy foods that can help balance the protein and fat content of the soup. Rice is a staple food in many Nigerian cuisines that can be cooked in different ways, such as white rice, jollof rice, fried rice, etc. Pounded yam can also go well with the dish.

How Long Does Fisherman Soup Last in the Refrigerator?

If stored properly, fisherman’s soup can last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. It should be kept in an airtight container to prevent spoiling or absorbing odours from other foods. It should also be cooled completely before storing it in the refrigerator to prevent bacterial growth. 


Fisherman soup is a delicious and nutritious dish that many people enjoy. It has many health benefits and provides essential nutrients that your body needs. The soup is made with simple, fresh ingredients that can be easily found and prepared. 

The soup may not be suitable for people who are allergic, sensitive, or have certain medical conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the possible allergic reactions and precautions before eating this soup. If you need more clarification about your tolerance or if you can eat this soup, consult your doctor or nutritionist before trying it. 

Fisherman soup is a great way to experience Nigeria’s rich and diverse cuisine. Try it today and enjoy something unique and different from what you’ve ever tasted. Check out other Famous Nigerian Foods here.