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HomeNewsArchivesGREET THE NEW YEAR IN AN OLD WAY: WITH KALLALOO

GREET THE NEW YEAR IN AN OLD WAY: WITH KALLALOO

Dec. 30, 2001 – Like black-eyed peas in the American South, kallaloo has long been a traditional New Year's dish in the Virgin Islands.
This green soupy stew has its roots in West African cookery. Africans brought to the Caribbean as slaves were expert at foraging for local ingredients and boiling them up into hearty one-pot stews. Taro leaves – sometimes called callaloo – grew bountifully throughout the islands and thus became the essential ingredient in this dish.
A number of variations on the kallaloo recipe have evolved. On St. Croix, for example, nifty named greens such as papalolo, whitie mary, pusley, bata-bata and bower came to be used for making Cruzan-style kallaloo. Because many of these greens are no longer available in quantity, spinach is most often used nowadays as the base for kallaloo.
For seasoning, green onion, celery, thyme and parsley may appear in varying proportions in kallaloo recipes, while okra is found in almost every pot. More rib-sticking ingredients may include the starchy tuber of the taro plant – known variously as dasheen, tannia, yautia and malanga – or pumpkin. Plain water or sometimes coconut milk forms the rich base in which all the ingredients swim. Traditional Virgin Islands kallaloo is served over a ball of fungi.
Fresh fish, crabs, conch, lobster and smoked pork or pigtail are longtime favorite flavorings in kallaloo, combining the indigenous ingredients of "surf and turf." Today, healthful twists on kallaloo may call for cubed tofu or slices of gluten. But it is ham – or, more appropriately, a ham bone – which has elevated this everyday dish into a revered holiday treat.
"It all started with a ham bone," the late Arona Petersen, Caribbean food expert and author of "Food and Folklore of the Virgin Islands," wrote. "By Old Year's Day, all that would be left of the ham served on Christmas would be the bone. Someone would contribute the bone, someone else the fish or crab, and yet another person the greens."
It's widely held that eating kallaloo brings good luck in the New Year, especially for lovers. Old timers will tell you that serving kallaloo to your beloved on Old Year's Night will mean a wedding by June.
Virgin Islands Kallaloo
1 large ham bone, with meat attached
Water to obtain desired consistency
1 lb. okra, cut up
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, including leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb. boned, flaked fish
1/2 lb. crabmeat removed from the shell
1/2 lb. lobster meat, cut up
1 lb. package frozen chopped spinach
1 tablespoon vinegar
Place ham bone in a large soup pot. Add water to cover bone. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Remove bone from pot, trimming off any ham and putting the meat back into the pot. Stir in okra, onion, celery, parsley, thyme, garlic, fish, crab, lobster and spinach. Bring ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour, or until mixture has the consistency of a thick stew. Add more water if needed to prevent ingredients from burning. Just before serving, stir in vinegar. (This prevents a natural layer of slime from the greens from forming on the top.)
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 195 calories, 3 gms fat (13 percent fat calories), 112 mg cholesterol, 430 mg sodium.

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Dec. 30, 2001 - Like black-eyed peas in the American South, kallaloo has long been a traditional New Year's dish in the Virgin Islands.
This green soupy stew has its roots in West African cookery. Africans brought to the Caribbean as slaves were expert at foraging for local ingredients and boiling them up into hearty one-pot stews. Taro leaves – sometimes called callaloo – grew bountifully throughout the islands and thus became the essential ingredient in this dish.
A number of variations on the kallaloo recipe have evolved. On St. Croix, for example, nifty named greens such as papalolo, whitie mary, pusley, bata-bata and bower came to be used for making Cruzan-style kallaloo. Because many of these greens are no longer available in quantity, spinach is most often used nowadays as the base for kallaloo.
For seasoning, green onion, celery, thyme and parsley may appear in varying proportions in kallaloo recipes, while okra is found in almost every pot. More rib-sticking ingredients may include the starchy tuber of the taro plant – known variously as dasheen, tannia, yautia and malanga – or pumpkin. Plain water or sometimes coconut milk forms the rich base in which all the ingredients swim. Traditional Virgin Islands kallaloo is served over a ball of fungi.
Fresh fish, crabs, conch, lobster and smoked pork or pigtail are longtime favorite flavorings in kallaloo, combining the indigenous ingredients of "surf and turf." Today, healthful twists on kallaloo may call for cubed tofu or slices of gluten. But it is ham – or, more appropriately, a ham bone – which has elevated this everyday dish into a revered holiday treat.
"It all started with a ham bone," the late Arona Petersen, Caribbean food expert and author of "Food and Folklore of the Virgin Islands," wrote. "By Old Year's Day, all that would be left of the ham served on Christmas would be the bone. Someone would contribute the bone, someone else the fish or crab, and yet another person the greens."
It's widely held that eating kallaloo brings good luck in the New Year, especially for lovers. Old timers will tell you that serving kallaloo to your beloved on Old Year's Night will mean a wedding by June.
Virgin Islands Kallaloo
1 large ham bone, with meat attached
Water to obtain desired consistency
1 lb. okra, cut up
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, including leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 lb. boned, flaked fish
1/2 lb. crabmeat removed from the shell
1/2 lb. lobster meat, cut up
1 lb. package frozen chopped spinach
1 tablespoon vinegar
Place ham bone in a large soup pot. Add water to cover bone. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Remove bone from pot, trimming off any ham and putting the meat back into the pot. Stir in okra, onion, celery, parsley, thyme, garlic, fish, crab, lobster and spinach. Bring ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 1 hour, or until mixture has the consistency of a thick stew. Add more water if needed to prevent ingredients from burning. Just before serving, stir in vinegar. (This prevents a natural layer of slime from the greens from forming on the top.)
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 195 calories, 3 gms fat (13 percent fat calories), 112 mg cholesterol, 430 mg sodium.