Chef Carla Hall’s Calaloo: Crab and Coconut Spinach Stew
August 4, 2016

Chef Carla Hall’s Calaloo: Crab and Coconut Spinach Stew

This lovely crab and spinach stew from Carla Hall of ABC”s The Chew  — catch her at Harlem EatUp! where she will be a guest chef during the Dine-In alongside Tren”ness Woods-Black of Sylvia”s. Try pairing this savory stew with a vibrant and fruity white Bordeaux from AOC Graves or for something different, a sweet Bordeaux, such as Sauternes or Barsac.

“My brother-in-law, Gus, is the first person who made this dish for me. And I really, really wanted to like it. He used palm oil and that’s definitely an acquired taste, as is the traditional funky dried saltfish he threw in there. This is a dish that hails from my heritage, so I wanted to create my own take on it. I played around with the essential ingredients until I got to this version, which I luuuuuuv. The savory bacon and crab add a real depth of flavor and the okra and coconut milk give the stew body. When I took my first bite, I screamed. Literally. It just hit me with its soulfulness and super, super tastiness. I hope you love it as much as I do.

I like to get my hands dirty when I’m eating. I want the whole crab legs in my spinach so I can pick them up with my fingers and pick and suck the meat and all their savory juices out of them. My husband Matthew? Not so much. I crack the crab for him and pull out all the meat first. That way, he can enjoy the dish with a fork, just the way he likes. You should serve this however you want; it’s delicious both ways.”



  • 3 strips bacon

  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 1 small onion, finely diced

  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • Kosher salt

  • 8 okra, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch rounds

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 1 scotch bonnet chile, slit open

  • 1 pound king crab legs, cut into individual legs

  • 3 cups Chicken Stock, homemade or store-bought unsalted broth

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 pound baby spinach


  • In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, turning, until the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, crumble, and reserve.

  • To the fat in the pan, add the pepper, onion, scallions, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is just translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the okra, thyme, and scotch bonnet chile. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the okra is just tender, about 5 minutes.

  • Add the crab legs and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

  • Transfer the crab legs, chile, and thyme to a dish; discard the chile and thyme. Stir the spinach into the skillet until it wilts, about 1 minute. Transfer to a blender and puree until finely chopped. Season to taste with salt, keeping in mind that both the bacon and crab are naturally salty. Top with the bacon and serve with the crab legs.

  • NOTE: Some like it hot! Add another Scotch bonnet chile and smash both into the stew.

    Wine Pairing

    Lots of different flavors and textures in this hearty dish to work with – the crab, the hot peppers and the coconut milk. A richly textured but not overly oaked dry white Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon blend) such as a Graves Blanc will have enough vibrant fruit to complement the diverse flavors. Alternatively, a sweet Bordeaux such as a Sauternes or a Barsac will provide the fruity complement and sweet contrast to this dish.


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