This recipe serves 2 people.
Callalloo - the Kale of the Caribbean. A staple leafy vegetable full of iron and antioxidants used in many dishes. However, there are differences of callaloo in the different islands. Jamaicans love it for breakfast with fried dumplings or in delicious patties. Trinidad uses dasheen bush leaves for callaloo, cooked in a rich, thick stew. It is either served as a side dish with rice and stew chicken or steamed with crab and dumplings.
I used to buy fresh callaloo weekly at the local markets while living in the Caribbean. When I came back to Europe I realized that it is hardly anywhere to be found. If you get lucky, you can find canned Jamaican callaloo in your local African Shop. I have not seen the Trini Callalloo (dasheen bush leaves) here yet.
Since I have been craving some callaloo for a while now, I came up with an easy version to recreate with ingredients we all can find in our local stores and food markets outside of the West Indies. The stew is vegan if you leave the shrimp out.
This dish does not use authentic Trini Callalloo, but you will see authentic flavors and similar techniques to achieve a great dish for your European version of Callalloo.
For the Callalloo:
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 big bag of fresh spinach, cleaned
100g of pumpkin, cubed in small pieces
6-8 fresh okra, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, chopped
3 Scallions, chopped
1 small onion diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp green seasoning
3 tbsp of coconut creme
1 cup of water
1 tsp of scotch bonnet pepper (Optional)
For the Shrimp:
10-12 large Shrimp, cleaned
1 tsp all purpose seasoning
Black pepper, salt
1. Prep Work
1. Prep work takes a little bit of time in the beginning, but it makes the cooking process so much easier and leaves hardly any room for mistakes. So, make sure to wash and clean all your vegetables and cut them up. Wash, clean and devein your shrimp as well and season with all-purpose seasoning, salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Cook the Shrimp
In a heavy bottom pot (for example a dutch pot), add olive oil and heat it up to a medium- high heat. Next, add in your seasoned shrimp and cook on each side for about 1 minute. Keep in mind, that shrimp cooks very quickly. Once it has a nice color on both sides, remove from the pot and set aside.
Aromatics are a key ingredient in Caribbean cooking and are also very important in this dish.
In the same pot you cooked your shrimp in, add in your onion, scallion, garlic, thyme & scotch bonnet. Sauté on medium heat for 1-2 minutes until everything turns fragrant. The flavor base of the aromatics as well as the shrimp flavor that was remaining in the pan will give your callallo lots of depth. Add in carrots, pumpkin and okra at last, stir and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
4. Cooking the “Callalloo”
Spinach in comparison to callaloo, loses its texture very quickly. To get an authentic and realistic texture, we need to manipulate the spinach by adding it to the pot in different stages. Add in 70% of your fresh spinach to the pot first. Stir in with the remaining vegetables and add your coconut creme. Turn down your heat to low and add in a little water if necessary. Let it simmer for the next 10-12 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.
Usually callaloo is blended with a traditional swizzle stick to break up the leaves further and create a nice texture. You can use a hand mixer/ electric blender for this part. Pulse it a few times through the stew to break up the spinach.
Now add in the remaining fresh spinach leaves. Season with salt, pepper and green seasoning. Stir and cook for another 3-5 minutes on low heat.
If you like, you can add in your shrimp back into the pot at this stage.
Enjoy with white!