You’ll notice that I’m referring to all the ‘greens’ as spinach in this recipe, so kindly bear with me. I had good crops of Swiss Chard, Jamaican Callaloo (chorai bhagi) and Kale in my garden this past summer, so it was only natural that I did this dish.A dish mom would make for us, however she would use dasheen bush (tender leaves of the dasheen plant) and there were times she would add a bit of cooked yellow split peas to the mix (she had a name for that dish which I can’t recall at the moment).
4-5 cups (each) Swiss Chard + Kale + Jamaican Callaloo
1 lb salted (cured) pigtails
1 med tomato or 6 cherry tomatoes
1 small onion
1 can coconut milk
4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 scotch bonnet pepper (no seeds and as much as you can handle)
1 tablespoon olive oil
* Juice of half lime or lemon (optional)
IMPORTANT: if doing this recipe gluten free, please go through the entire list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs.
Have your butcher cut the salted pigtails about 1 inch with his band-saw or risk doing some damage to your kitchen knife if trying to cut it at home, due to the tough bone in the middle. Then rinse off, place in a pot covered with water and bring to a boil. Boil on medium heat for 20 mins, then discard the water and repeat with new water for a further 30 mins. By boiling for two times you’ll make the pieces of salted pig tails very tender and help to remove most of the salt it was cured in.
Drain and set aside when you’ve boiled it two times in fresh water.
Wash and trim (discard blemished leaves and hard stems/rib.. especially the Kale) the ‘spinach’ then roll into a cigar shape and cut into ribbons. I would recommend washing again just to be sure you remove any possible dirt you didn’t get the first time. Place in a deep bowl with water (or your sink) and shake around, any dirt will settle to the bottom. I must mention that I didn’t use any of the stems of the Jamaican callaloo.. though I could use the tender ones if I wanted.
Heat the oil on a medium flame in a wide pot, then go in with the diced onion and garlic. Lower the heat all the way down and cook for a couple minutes. Then add the chopped scallions, pieces of salted pig tails (pre-cooked), scotch bonnet pepper and black pepper. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes on low. This is the sort of flavor base we need to get things going.
Now turn up the heat to medium and start adding all the chopped ‘spinach’ to the pot. It will seem like a lot, but after a couple minutes it will wilt down. Go in with the coconut milk and bring to a boil. As it comes to a boil, give it a god stir, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer.
After 20 minutes, remove the lid and turn up the heat. The goal is to now burn off any liquid in the pot. In my case it took about 5 minutes to do so. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. You’ll notice that I didn’t add any salt to my dish as the salt from the salted pigtails (yea, you won’t get it all out by boiling) will be enough to season the dish. Lastly I went in with some cherry tomato I found in my garden and the juice of 1/2 a lemon (or lime).
The lemon juice at the end really brightens up everything and it helps to prevent any sort of ‘itch’ you may experience at the back of your tongue when you eat ‘greens’. This dish is great with rice, dumplings, ground provisions or roti.
You can cook it longer if you like your ‘spinach’ more tender/melted as traditional bhagi and if pork is not your thing, you can always use salted cod or smoked turkey wings or something.