Cow Skin is the natural hairy outer covering of the cow which is removed when slaughtered for food. It is also known as cowhide, a by-product of processing cow for meat in the food industry.
It is usually earmarked for processing into other things such as durable leather, furniture, belts, bags, rugs/carpets, and accessories.
The skin is viewed as an organ and is well-thought-out to be the largest organ in an animal due to its large surface area.
Over the years cow skin is popularly called Ponmo, Kponmo, Pomo, Awo (Nigeria); Kanda, Ngob b Nyam(Cameroon), dried Kanda (Nigeria).
Pomo is cow skin that has been processed for consumers to cook and eat like beef.
Pomo has become a popular local delicacy loved by all regardless of societal class level. Its unique taste and texture are what make it so popular.
Cow skin is eaten in other West African countries such as Ghana where it is called welle or wele.
It is equally consumed in the Caribbeans and well-loved by West Indian men in particular.
Pomo is a delicacy that Nigerians love and enjoy especially when added to stews and soups.
Cow Skin Nutritional Information – What Is Inside Ponmo/The Calories?
100 g of boiled, thick cow skin/hide contains about 224.65 kcal of energy, 6.80 g of carbohydrate, about 43.9 g of water, 46.9 g of protein, 1.09 g of fat, and 0.02 g of fibre
How to Process Cow Skin to Pomo
Cow skin in itself is really tough to eat and takes time to cook and soften before eating.
How to Clean the Cow’s Skin
- Firstly, put a pot with water enough to cover the cow skin over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Secondly, allowing cooling and then use a sharp knife to remove anything that is on the inside of the cow’s skin.
- Similarly, use the knife to scrape the back of the cow’s skin.
- Lastly, after cleaning the cow’s skin, discard the water. Put fresh water and allow soaking and light fermentation.
Method of Processing Cow Skin
There are three main methods. The first two methods are to remove the hair from the skin and tenderize it while the third method is tanning.
- Dark Ponmo
- Firstly, the hides are roasted over an open wood fire (or sometimes burning tires or with petrochemicals) and scratched to remove the hair and burnt coating.
- After that, it is then cut and boiled.
The healthiness of Dark Pomo depends on the type of fire used – wood is generally a minor problem, tires and petrochemicals are a major problem.
- White Ponmo
- Firstly, the hides are burnt and then smooth-shaven.
- Afterward they are boiled until tender enough for consumption.
In any case, prepared cow skins maybe let to soak for some hours in water to get a light fermentation which additionally softens them.
- Tanning is the process of treating skins and hides of animals to produce leather.
Tanning hide into leather involves a process that permanently alters the protein structure of the skin, making it more durable and less susceptible to decomposition, and also possibly coloring it.
Nutritional Benefits of Cow Skin
There have been a lot of controversies surrounding the nutritional benefits of eating ponmo. This is because not many types of researches have been done on it.
Health experts have said that it is harmful and unhealthy with no health benefits but Nigerians disagree.
Pomo is a delicacy that Nigerians love and enjoy and have even turned it into a lucrative business. Ponmo is the number one business in Ijebu-Igbo today.
However, foods with high level of collagen protein or high gelatin content such as:
Cow skin, pig’s tail, chicken foot, cow leg, oxtail, and cow foot and other gelatinous meats, are seen to be of low biological value (low-quality protein).
This is due to the high levels of non-essential amino acids that they contain and in need of one or more of the essential amino acids.
Also, speculation that it is good for those who want to lose weight since it has no nutritional value is highly debatable.
Above all, the over-consumption of ponmo is affecting the leather industry (as the Nigerian government complained)
The leather industry is suffering from the consumption of ponmo by Nigerians. Instead of these hides being used to make shoes, bags, and wallets, we prefer to eat them.
Ponmo has become a source of livelihood and a good alternative to meat. Perhaps, that’s why Nigeria imports all her leathers.
This has long been a major food item in Nigeria, to the point there is little cow hide left for making leather.
According to Dr. Malik of withdrmalik.org and I quote:
it is wrong to say Kpomo has No nutritional value! It is more correct to say it has low nutritional value when compared to other food sources.
Compared to regular meats, it has low protein and skin-collagen. Other nutrients are on the low side too.
But it is a very good dietary roughage – it helps the process of digestion very well.
But, overall, the nutrients are very low except if you supplement them during cooking.
It is unfair to say that ‘kpomo’ causes cancer. Yes, due to the way it is processed (like using car tyre and fuel to burn it).
There are some chemicals and heavy metals that could cause cancer that is introduced into it.
And, sincerely, these chemicals are in low amounts (to the best of my knowledge) after cooking and preparation.
Kpomo in itself has no cancer-causing ability, the way people process it is the problem.
Where to buy/sell Pomo
This is not a problem because kpomo is practically sold in all Nigerian markets at a lower price.
Cow Skin Recipe – Pomo in a sauce is very tasty and simply amazing!