We’ve already talked about the differences between Jamaican Callaloo (a plant) and Callalloo from the Southern Caribbean (a soup) and we’ve also looked at traditional recipes as well as recipes based on what’s available in your country. In today Callaloo recipe we won’t be using the traditional baby dasheen (taro) leaves, but baby spinach and the base flavor will come from shrimp and not the traditional crabs or salted meats. Hopefully this prevents the “that’s not callaloo” comments.
2 lbs baby spinach (rough chop)
1 medium onion (diced)
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon black pepper (divided)
3/4 tablespoon salt (divided)
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 scotch bonnet pepper (no seeds)
2 lbs large shrimp (with heads/shell)
3 cups water
1 stalk celery (diced)
5 sprigs thyme
3 scallions (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (diced fine)
2 1/2 cups pumpkin (cubed)
2 medium sweet potato (cubed)
18 small okra (cut into 1/4 inch)
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 fish/seafood bullion cube
1/2 teaspoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
Peel and devein the shimp, wash and set aside. Wash the shell and heads of the shrimp and use it to make a stock. In a deep saucepan, heat the butter on a medium flame, then go in with the diced celery, followed by the shrimp peels/heads. Stir well and cook for about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 the black pepper and stir well. Turn up the heat, add water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes.
As the shrimp stock comes together, in another deep pot heat the olive oil on a medium flame, then add the onion, garlic, black pepper, scallions, scotch bonnet (add as much as you can handle) and thyme. Reduce the heat to low and gently cook for about 4 minutes to help build a base of flavors.
After-which you may go in with the diced pumpkin and sweet potato, stir well and cook for another minute or two, before adding the okra.
It’s now time to add the roughly chopped baby spinach.
It may look as if it will not fit in the pot, but as it wilts you’ll have enough room. Top with the coconut milk and stir well. By this time the shrimp stock should be ready.
Strain the stock into the pot with the spinach etc and turn the heat up to med/high to bring to a boil.
As it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 80-90 minutes. Almost forgot.. add the bullion cubes at this point, along 2/3 of the salt.
As the pot simmers, it’s time to season the shrimp we cleaned earlier. Very basic… toss with the Caribbean Green Seasoning and remaining salt and set aside in the fridge to marinate.
After about 80-90 minutes everything should be tender and falling apart. It’s now time to personalize it a bit. I like my callaloo smooth but with a bit of texture, so I went in with my swizzle stick (watch the video below) and worked it until I achieved the consistency I like. Use a whisk or stick blender if you don’t have a wooden swizzle stick as I have. If using an electric stick blender, please pulse and DON’T over-work or you risk it going frothy. At this time you may also taste for salt and adjust.
It’s now time to add the season shrimp, mix well and turn off the stove. Cover and allow the residual heat to cook the shrimp through. This method helps you prevent having chewy (overcooked) shrimp. After about 5-8 minutes in the pot, the shrimp will be fully cooked. Get ready to serve.
This shrimp callaloo is great as a soup, enjoyed as a topping for rice and great with crusty bread as well. It can be frozen and reheated with great success. Remember you can also float the scotch bonnet pepper whole and remove/discard before using the whisk. Be sure not to break it or you’ll feel the pain of Caribbean sunshine. Also remember to wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling such hot peppers.
Do you own a copy of my cookbook ?- The Vibrant Caribbean Pot 100 Traditional And Fusion recipes Vol 2