My family love callaloo, a wild form of spinach grown throughout the Caribbean but is of African origin. More than likely, callaloo was transported from Africa to the Caribbean during the transatlantic slave trade and it's grown and flourished in the Caribbean ever since. If you are thinking what does callaloo taste of, it has a distinct taste and is more savoury than spinach, but if you are cooking it in this dish it will be similar to spinach. So, if you can't get your hand on a tin of callaloo, fresh spinach would work. If I was going down prepare a more traditional dish, such as callaloo and salt fish, callaloo would be preferred because once you start to mix it with more complex flavours, it takes a whole new taste and flavour.
Unfortunately, this isn't the season for fresh callaloo in the UK, this is available in the Summer months and if you are lucky enough to live near an African or Caribbean food stall you will be able to pick up a large leafy bunch. In the meantime, the tinned variety will do, which is now, thankfully available in many larger supermarkets in multi-cultural towns and cities.
Anyway, back to this dish. I love egg and soldiers, my fondest memories of breakfast was runny eggs in an egg cup with buttered hot toast cut into soldiers and then dunked into the egg. I'm sure many of you also have that nostalgic memory of this breakfast dish. I, being a lover of Jamaican ingredients have made a grown up, Jamaican version of eggs and soldiers. The eggs are cracked on top of seasoned callaloo and served with bammy soldiers. Did I tell you that I love bammy? Bammy is cassava rounds that are produced in Jamaica and shipped here in the UK, it's near impossible to make your own, so shop brought must do. If you have ever tried yams, you may like this. If not, the only thing I can think of which has similar resemblance to bammy, if you've never tried it is potato bread. This meal can be on your kitchen table in under 20 minutes and if you chose to, as I did, serve it for breakfast, but it also makes a lovely quick mid-week meal. It's also vegetarian so perfect for a meatless meal or perhaps for Meat Free Monday.
Here is how my Callaloo Baked Eggs and Bammy Soldiers turned out:
Recipe for Callaloo Baked Eggs
1 tbsp vegetable oil.
1 small red onion, skinned removed and finely diced.
2 chopped tomatoes, finely diced.
1 tin of callaloo (280g, drained weight 164g)
1 tsp harissa powder
1 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper
For the Bammy Soldiers
1 bammy round
50 ml semi-skimmed milk
2 tbsp oil
You will need a frying pan and a wok.
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Pour the oil in the frying pan, add the onions, tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Add the callaloo, harissa powder, salt, pinch of black pepper, give everything a quick stir and cook for a further 5 minutes. Create 4 spaces and crack the eggs. Transfer the frying pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, until the egg whites are set. Whilst the eggs are in the oven, soak the bammy with semi-skimmed milk for 3 minutes (this helps tenderise the bammy). Pour the oil in the wok, slice the bammy into "soldiers" and cook on a medium heat for around 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown - remove with a slotted fish slicer and set aside Remove the frying pan from the oven and serve with bammy soldiers.