Recipe: Callaloo

Serves 4-6

Callaloo, a luscious green stew made all over the Caribbean, is one of *those* recipes. It’s like chili in the US; everyone lays claim to having the “best” version. And every version was made by someone’s mama, so you best not mess with it. This version is made by Ava’s mamma – me. But.. unlike those other recipes, feel free to mess with mine. After all, I’m a novice Callaloo maker and still have a lot to learn.

Given the limitations of supplies around these parts, I went ahead and made a few substitutions, all clearly noted.


1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 green onions, sliced
vegetable oil
ham bone (salted pig tails are traditional, but I had a bone leftover from my Christmas ham)
1 lb baby spinach (use dasheen/taro leaves, if you can find them)
1 can coconut milk
1 coconut can of water
1/2 lb okra
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (about a sprig)
1/2 lb lump crabmeat (whole crab is traditional)


Add coconut milk and water to a large pot. Heat over medium.

Pile on baby spinach. It will cook down into the liquid.

Add onions, garlic, and green onions…

Don’t forget some okra and habenero.

And a healthy bit of thyme.

Add a ham bone – but, by all means, wait until there’s a bit more room in the pot. That’s what I did.

Simmer, covered for about an hour.

Remove the ham bone and pulse a few times with an immersion blender

(Traditional recipes call for “swizzling” the soup with a special rod called a “swizzle stick.” They use it much like a whisk and it breaks the soup down and leaves a somewhat coarse texture)

Stir in the crab meat. Season with salt & pepper.

Cook another 15 minutes, then serve over rice with macaroni pie or some beautiful bakes.

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  1. elisa waller says:

    wow..i love crab when it is combined /cooked into things..and this looks fabulous! I wonder what you would use to make it “vegetarian”? Can you use another kind of meat bone as well? Im not too crazy about ham…but its worth the tase Im sure! <3 Great job I love and miss you!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      You could definitely leave out the ham and the crab – but then you might want to use something else to add depth of flavor – perhaps browning all the onions and stuff ahead of time, to get caramelized flavor (in fact, I sort of wished I had done this for flavor, but most recipes don’t include this step).

  2. The green color made me think that it is a very healthy stew and it is! Spinach is good stuff :)
    The first time that I heard “callaloo” was in an old Cosby show episode. Cosby found the old cook who used to make his & his wife’s fav calaloo.
    Now I see what Callaloo is ;)

  3. Callaloo is delicious, I could not find Taro leaves (by any name), so the cooks thesaurus online advised to substitute Chard, which I did and it was so delicious. Thanks, Sasha!

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