Monday, March 13, 2006

Callaloo and Shark 'n Bake

After having been on a consulting and training assignment for a month in Trinidad and Tobago a few years ago, the typical ‘soup and sandwich’ that we’re all so familiar with took on an entirely new meaning. Callaloo – a spinach-type soup and mainstay in the Caribbean, combined with ‘shark and bake’ served together, is hard to top. They take minimal time to prepare and I guarantee, once you’ve had them, they will become a regular meal in your household. Below are listed recipes for both.

This specialty is served by many fine restaurants and roadside vendors throughout the island. It is a T&T version of fish and chips. It's relatively easy to duplicate at home, and if shark is not available, substitute halibut or swordfish.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings


Juice from 1 lime
1 pound shark meat, cut into pieces about 3 or 4 inches long and 1 inch wide
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced chives or green onion tops
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour seasoned with salt and pepper
Vegetable oil for frying


Sprinkle the lime juice over the shark meat and let sit for 5 minutes. Combine the garlic, chives, thyme, and salt and mix well. Rinse the shark with water and dip the pieces first in the spicy mixture and then in the flour, coating them well. Fry the shark, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil, turning often, for about 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve wrapped in bakes. Sprinkle the shark-and-bake with your favorite hot sauce.


The shark can be marinated for 2 hours in a mixture of lime juice, onion, garlic, thyme, and minced Habanero or jalapeno pepper.


This is the bread that is served with shark to make the famous Maracas Bay shark and bake. The bakes are simple and quick to prepare. Yield: 4 to 6 bakes


2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
1 teaspoon sugar
Vegetable oil for frying


Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the shortening and sugar, and mix with a fork. Add enough water to make a dough and knead gently. Cut the dough into 4 to 6 pieces (depending on how large you want the bakes to be) and roll each piece into a ball. Let stand for a few minutes.

Flatten the balls of dough until they are about ¼ inch thick, and fry in hot oil until they are brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Kind of like a pita bread.


This remarkable, bright green soup is often called "the national dish of T&T." It features callaloo (taro leaves or dasheen), but spinach is an excellent substitute. Yield: 8 to 10 servings


3 bundles callaloo or 3 bunches fresh spinach, washed, tough ribs removed, coarsely chopped
4 cups coconut milk
2 cups milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
¼ pound pumpkin or Hubbard squash, peeled and coarsely chopped
¼ pound butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste


In a stockpot or soup pot, combine all the ingredients and boil for 4 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes. If too thick, add more coconut milk. Remove from the heat, cool, and puree in a blender in small batches. Reheat the soup and serve.

NOTE: If you can get 2-3 medium to large live crabs, clean them, soak briefly in lime juice, and add them to the soup at the beginning. Now you have shark and crab. Makes for a very delicious and filling meal.