While I’ve shared several versions of Callaloo, the classic soup-like dish prepared in the Southern Caribbean, this is one of those versions mom would make when she didn’t have access to fresh ocean crab. I still remember mom would have to hide the fact that there were piece of salted pig tails in the Callaloo or my sisters wouldn’t ever touch it.. but my brother, dad and I were quite excited to get those tender pieces of pork on our plate on a Sunday.
1 lb salted pigtails (prepared)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (veg or olive oil is ok)
1 lb baby spinach
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
1 medium onion (diced)
2 scallions (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (smashed)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil (any oil will work)
2-3 wiri wiri peppers (or any spicy pepper you like)
1-2 cups pumpkin (cubed)
15-20 small okra (chopped)
4 sprigs thyme
*salt – adjust
Get your butcher to cut the pieces of salted pig tails into 1 inch pieces as it can be tough to cut with your basic kitchen knife. Rinse, then put in a pot of water to boil. As it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes. This step will help to remove the excess salt it was cured in (or the dish will be too salty) and to help tenderize the meat itself. The goal at the end is to have the meat fall off the bones. Then drain and set aside.
In a deep pot heat the coconut oil on a medium flame, then add the scallion, garlic, onion, thyme and black pepper and reduce to a low heat and cook gently for 3-5 minutes.
Wash and drain the spinach, then add it to the pot.
Now it’s time to add the pumpkin, okra and the prepared pieces of pigtails. Give it a good mix, then turn the heat up to high. Put the wiri wiri peppers whole (any pepper you add).
Immediately add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil.
When it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and allow it to cook for about an hour and 20 minutes. Please be mindful to NOT break the peppers, or the dish will turn out spicy. However, in my case I wanted the heat.
There are 2 ways to personalize this.. taste for salt and adjust (we didn’t add any as the remaining salt in the pigtails should be enough) and remove/discard the peppers before we move to the next step. Then you can remove the pieces of pigtails from the pot and using a swizzle stick (as seen in the pic) or a wire whisk.. whisk until relatively smooth. If you prefer to use an immersion blender, you’re free to do so. However I’d recommend ‘pulsing’ or it will change the texture and go frothy.
Add back the pieces of pig tails, check one more time or salt and adjust. Additionally, if this was done traditionally you’d add a teaspoon of ‘salted butter (Golden Ray), but I no longer use that in my recipes due to health concerns. Turn off the stove and serve.
As mentioned in the video below, traditionally mom would use the baby leaves of the dasheen plant (say dasheen bush leaves), but I’m not based in the Caribbean where it’s readily available, thus the use of baby spinach in this callaloo recipe. I must also mention that if you don’t have freshly made coconut milk, the canned stuff will work quite well. I wouldn’t recommend using stock instead of water as I believe it will change the overall taste of the dish (not to my liking).
If you don’t already know, this can be enjoyed as a soup or as a side to a typical Caribbean Sunday lunch with stewed or oven roasted meats, rice, macaroni pie, boiled sweet potato, salad and plantain.