Ugba (oil bean seed) and Okporoko (stockfish) together as a dish is native to the Igbos of former Eastern Nigeria (now the Southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria)
Okporoko (stockfish) is typically native to the Igbos of the southeast of Nigeria. It was not generally known from the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914. From that period to Nigeria’s independence in 1960, stockfish or okporoko (as it was called by the Igbos) was still not generally known. When the Nigerian civil war (i.e. the Nigeria-Biafra war or the Biafran war) broke out in 1967 Okporoko became a main source of protein.
After the war, “Ugba and Okporoko” emerged as an Igbo native delicacy of sorts as the people experimented with food supplements. It is now cooked and served at ceremonies, occasions, in beer parlors, eateries and at home – mainly as a delicacy. Ugba and Okporoko is a Nigerian food delicacy.
Ugba is one of the Nigerian restaurant specials. It is a traditional Igbo meal prepared the same way as Abacha (African Salad) but with Ugba, instead of using ugba/ukpaka as just a side ingredient, it is the main ingredient.
It is pertinent here to state that ‘Ugba’ undergoes extensive fermentation before it is considered edible.
Benefits of the African Oil Bean (Ukpaka)
Studies reveal that the health benefits of African oil bean cannot be overemphasized and are thus discussed below including some other reasons we need this plant.
1. Reduction of Cancer Growth Studies reveal that the African oil bean seeds are capable of reducing cancer growth. A comparative study carried out in Nigeria showed that cancer patients who consumed ukpaka during the research period recorded a great reduction in cancer risks unlike those that do not consume it. In a nutshell, consuming fermented African oil bean seeds as a food supplement is a great way of minimizing the risks of cancer growth and maintaining good health.
2. Dermatological Purposes Due to the anti inflammatory properties of the African oil bean, both the bark and seeds can be used for producing local ointment for treating itches and insect bites.
3. Lowers the Cholesterol Level African oil bean seed is a rich source of saponins, which have been proven effective for reducing the plasma cholesterol
4. Antibacterial Properties African oil bean seeds contain saponins and alkaloids that possess antibacterial properties thus can be used for fighting Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumonia and Bacillus subtilis.
5. Antimicrobial Properties African oil bean contains sterols which have been proven effective for tackling microbes such as Staphylococcus aureus.
6. Obesity Control
African oil bean plant is a rich source of phytoestrogens thus can be taken as a nutritional and vitamin supplement for controlling overweight and obesity.
There you go guys, when next you visit Nigeria, the south east in particular, do well to visit a restaurant and ask for a plate of ugba. Lest we forget, the best drink that goes with this local delicacy is palm wine.