Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sauteed Callaloo and Ham (serves 4 as part of a shared meal)

I had callaloo for the first time in St. Lucia many years ago.  One of my brothers had his destination wedding at one of the larger resorts on that island.  My parents and I enjoyed eating the callaloo dish the resort made as part of their breakfast spread every morning.   The dish was simple, just callaloo and stock but it was tasty.  Of all the resort guests I think we were the only ones that ate this dish. More for us!!

Once back in the States I searched all over for fresh or even canned callaloo but had never been able to find it.  I was in Waltham a few weeks ago and came across a small market owned by Marie, a friendly and delightful Haitian-American woman.  I was thrilled to buy some of the produce she had available. The canned callaloo is unfortunately in salted water.  Before using just give it a few good rinses with cold water to get rid of as much of the salt as you can.  Marie tells me that this callaloo dish is easily made with a few ingredients; callaloo, tomato, onion, red or green peppers with the seasoning salt and Maggi chicken bouillon cubes she recommended.  Today I decided to make this dish that is inspired by her.  Thank you Marie!

Marie & her son

Julien's Market
(American, Haitian, and Spanish grocery)
456 Moody Street, Waltham, MA


2 Tbsps olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 C cubed ham (may use chicken or other meat)
2 C roasted red peppers, sliced or cubed
1 (19-oz) can of callaloo, rinsed in cold water several times
1/2 chicken flavor bouillon cube (Maggi)
1 tsp Sazónador Total (seasoning)
1 C water


1) Heat a medium sized pot over medium high heat.
2) Once the pan is hot add oil.
3) Add garlic and onion, saute about 1 minute.
4) Add ham, saute about 2 minutes.
5) Add peppers, saute about 2 minutes.
6) Add callaloo, bouillon, seasoning and water.  Turn heat low once the liquid starts to boil.  Let it cook for about 2 minutes more.

*This dish is heavier on the salty side.  Also both Sazónador Total seasoning and the Maggi chicken flavor bouillon have monosodium glutamate (MSG).  You can certainly adjust the seasoning according to your taste and omit or substitute the seasonings.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Periwinkles with Garlic and Lemongrass (appetizer for 2)

Periwinkles are small and it takes many of them to make a decent meal.  Don't get discouraged. After you have removed a few of these critters from their shells you will get much faster!  When I have lemongrass available in my kitchen I like to use it to make this dish.  It's great to put on toasted bread or crackers.

Periwinkles with Garlic and Lemongrass (appetizer for 2)


1 Tbsp butter (salted or unsalted)
2-3 Tbsps olive oil
2 tsps finely chopped lemongrass
2 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
2 chopped scallions (or about 2 Tbsps)
1 C cooked periwinkles meat (see Boiled Periwinkles post for how to cook them)
1 tsp fish sauce (or according to your taste)
A pinch of sugar (or according to your taste)


1) Heat oil and butter in a small pan over medium high heat.
2) Once the pan is hot, add lemongrass, garlic and scallions.  Saute about 2 minutes.
3) Add periwinkles, fish sauce, and sugar.  Saute about 2 more minutes and turn off heat.

Whoever said snails are slow?  Here are 2 friends trying
to escape!  Best to eat them as fast as possible!!  : D

Boiled Periwinkles (great snack for 1 or more)

I grew up eating periwinkles.  My family and I used to gather them when we went fishing along coastal Maine.  Once in a while my husband and I would harvest them along our coast in New Hampshire. These snails are tiny but the meat is very sweet and tasty.  I actually prefer eating smaller ones than larger ones. Sometimes the larger snails can look a bit scary even to me because everything about them is visible to the eyes especially their huge antennae!  :D

While shopping at my local market here in New Hampshire a few weeks ago I noticed for the first time the store actually carried periwinkles in 2-3 pound bags.  While I was inspecting the bags closely a man beside me informed me they are very good.  I responded yes and wondered out loud where these came from.  He said, "probably down the coast a few miles away, the same place where I get mine!" I looked at him and said "that's where I get mine too!"  I guess we both were a little surprised because I don't think he has met anyone who harvests them as well.  Before he left he laughed and said, "I will see you at the coast!"

There are many ways to cook snails.  Here is the quickest and simplest method; just add the periwinkles to boiling water for 5 minutes and then remove them from their shells with a toothpick. You can eat them plain or with your favorite dipping sauce.  I like to boil my periwinkles with some seaweed and then use them as a garnish later.  In Vietnam some of my relatives sometimes use guava leaves to boil the snails for a hint of fragrance.  Sometimes I add smashed lemongrass to the pot for the same reason.

Boiled Periwinkles


Periwinkles (however many you manage to harvest and can eat)
Water (use just enough to cover the periwinkles)
A pot or pan


1) Wash the periwinkles well in cold water, let them soak 2-3 hours or best overnight to further clean them.
2) Rinse them well in cold water 4-5 times.
3) Heat water in a pot or pan.  Once the water is boiling add the periwinkles.  Let them boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, drain, and let them cool a little before handling them.  Use a toothpick to remove the snails from the shells.  The body should remove easily once cooked.

*If you harvest your own periwinkles be sure to pick them in clean water.  It is best to gather them at low tide.  Please only pick what you can eat and avoid damaging the sea vegetation.

Simple Lemon-Salt-Pepper Dipping Sauce


2 tsps lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper (black or white)


Mix all ingredients and use for dipping.  May add more or less of these ingredients depending on your preference.

-if you are going to harvest seaweed please remember
to clip them so they can grow back
-once cooked these plants will turn bright green

coastal NH,
-a great place for
fresh sea breeze, to meditate, walk, bike
or harvest periwinkles