Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What's for Dinner? - Caribbean Callaloo

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO!  To honor these vivid islands, culture, and people, a true Caribbean staple is in order.  Callaloo is mainly a stew of sorts, but it means different things in different parts of the Caribbean.  Callaloo is a bush type of plant, but you will also hear it called "dasheen."  You boil down the leaves of the plant with plenty of spices, vegetables, and meats and is typically served as a side dish accompanied by rice, macaroni (huge in the Virgin Islands), fungee (also huge in the Virgin Islands), roasted or boiled breadfruit (so delicious and mild).  For those outside of the Caribbean, regular old water spinach can be used as the main green leafy vegetable of this stew.  Another main ingredient of Callaloo is okra which is directly descendant from African slaves who settled on the Caribbean islands, but when the newly transplanted Africans settled in the Caribbean islands they adapted their recipe by using the leaves of the Xanthosoma plant which you can pretty much see growing everywhere on the islands.
As for the meats and various additives for Callaloo, the possibilities are endless.  In Trinidad, okra is used for the main leafy vegetable alongside coconut milk giving it an entirely different taste and consistency than Calliloo made in the Virgin Islands or Jamaica where Xanthosoma or actual Calliloo leaves are only used. Meats include Caribbean lobster, conch, saltfish (a whole blog on its own), or pork.

Here is a recipe I used a lot while living on St. Thomas.  It's simple and DELICIOUS. It wouldn't be Callaloo if you didn't get creative with it either, so feel free to take creative license here!


12 Callaloo, dasheen, or large water spinach leaves
1/4 pound of salted/seasoned pork, beef, or a 1/2 pound of chicken feet (never tried this, but I'd be willing!)
8 okra (the full stalk)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
4 stalks of chive, chopped
2 crabs, broken into pieces and rinsed (you can cheat here and use canned crab, won't hurt anything)
1 tsp garlic
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups hot water
1 tsp. butter
1 whole hot pepper, not de-veined or de-seeded  (You need to add this right before boiling)


1.  Wash and cut the leaves, discarding the stalk.
2.  Cut your beef, pork, fish, or chicken into bite sized pieces.
3.  Cut your okra, chives, and thyme
4.  In a large pot combine your Callaloo leaves, meat, chive, thyme, okra, onion, garlic, coconut milk, water, crab, and whole pepper.
5.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until all ingredients are soft.
6.  Beat with a beater to make a more smooth consistency.
7.  Add butter and stir until melted.
8.  Add any salt or pepper you may want.



  1. Mmmmmmm I know, right? With a big blog of fungee and macaroni on the side (drool).