Lalo with Beef, Spinach, and Blue Crab Stew is a typical delicious dish in Haitian cuisine. Usually served with white rice, it makes a perfectly healthy dinner for the whole family.
Jute leaves are a nutritious and versatile leafy green vegetable. They are rich in calcium, iron, protein, vitamins A, C, and E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, and dietary fibers. Jute leaves can be found in specialty stores in fresh, frozen, or dried forms. Depending on your location, they may also be available at local farmers’ markets. Jute leaves are also known as okra leaves, but they are not the same as the okra plant leaves.
It is fascinating to know that India and Bangladesh are the top producers of Jute plants. With a 2011 estimation of 1,924,326 and 1,523,315, respectively, I was surprised to find very few food recipes online. Maybe other recipes are not known and shared. Or better yet, is it possible that creating recipes that are out of the ordinary may be difficult to accomplish because of the Jute’s leaves texture when cooked?
I have heard stories of bad jute or Lalo stew and could not understand how someone could mess up a recipe with green leafy vegetables. It wasn’t until my sister’s friend Syndie showed me how she cooks her Lalo (Jute) that I understood the challenges.
The recipe for Lalo
Before I share the recipe, I have to say that I have researched the web for Lalo recipes and could not find the secret ingredient that Syndie used. The secret ingredient can be used for baking. I had not cooked with it and was astonished to find out what it was. Apparently, it is used to make Lalo, one of the provinces in Haiti called L’Artibonite, located in the center of Haiti.
Map of Haiti taken from negritudefm.com
The secret ingredient is baking soda. Syndie said the baking soda slows down the gooey or slimy process of the Lalo leaves. She also stated that cooking and stirring the Lalo with a wooden spoon is imperative. She learned from her peers that it helps keep the texture.
Somehow, the stainless steel (spoon) will affect the texture as well. But again, you are cooking the Lalo in a stainless steel pot. And maybe that has to do with the heat. No matter what it is, I have to say that the dish was delicious, and the Lalo was perfectly cooked.
About the ingredients for the recipe
The Haitian stew is made with fresh crab meat, which makes it stand out against other stews. The lobster sauce gives it a unique flavor and aroma that cannot be found in other stews. It is a healthy beef stew because of the beef and spinach, but it is often cooked with butter, giving it a more sophisticated style. Nevertheless, it still maintains its simple and delicious taste.
You can find Lalo in West-Indian Caribbean Markets or Indian markets.
Lalo with Beef, Spinach, and Blue Crab Stew is full of flavor, filling, and delicious. If you are familiar with Haitian cuisine, then you are likely already aware of how beautifully Haitian cooking marries the flavors of local foods to create one-of-a-kind dishes that consumers worldwide can enjoy. This stew is no exception.
Lalo is a dish prepared with spinach, beef, and blue crab. It is usually served with white rice, making it a perfectly healthy dinner for the whole family!
Thank you, Syndie, for this wonderful recipe. Lots of love and appreciation!!! 🙂
Hope you will enjoy it!
For the beef
- 2 pounds stew beef
- 1 lime or lemon to clean meat
- 3 garlic cloves chopped finely
- 1 small white onion chopped
- 1 sprig thyme
- 2 scallions chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped finely
- ½ lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon or beef bouillon cube
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce or ½ hot pepper
For the Lalo or Jute Leaves
- 4 cups dried Lalo or Jute leaves
- 8 cups water
- 1 pinch baking soda
- Soak for 30 minutes
For the Spinach
- 12 ounces bag baby spinach or regular spinach
- Clean roughly chopped and set aside
For the Blue Crabs
- 2 – 4 blue crabs
- 1 lemon
- Thoroughly clean crabs with lemon or lime. Please see this link on how to clean crab http://www.bluecrab.info/cbyc.html. Reserve shells if you prefer. Add to a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste with a little bit of lemon juice. Refrigerate until use.
- Remove dried Lalo or Jute leaves from packaging and remove any debris. Place in a large bowl and add water with baking soda. Let soak for 30 minutes.
- To marinate beef: In a bowl place beef pieces and clean with lemon or vinegar. Rinse under cool water and pat dry. In a clean bowl, add lemon or lime juice, garlic, onion, thyme, scallions, parsley, salt, black pepper, ground cloves, chicken bouillon or beef bouillon and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Strain Lalo and discard water and set aside.
- In a heavy bottom pan, heat oil and add tomato paste. Fry for about 1 – 2 minutes. Add beef and marinade and stir to mix. Add hot pepper or hot sauce. Lower heat.
- Add Lalo or Jute leaves to cover meat.
- Add spinach.
- Cover with aluminum foil.
- Cover pot with a fitted lid and let cook until beef is cooked thoroughly about 40 – 55 minutes.
- Remove aluminum foil and add clean blue crabs to mixture and stir to incorporate.
- Cook uncovered until crabs are cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from stovetop, remove hot pepper and serve immediately with rice or root vegetables
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.
Nutrition info is automatically generated and provided as a courtesy and as an estimate only.