Ackee & Saltfish just might be my favorite food. I’m not saying that just because it happens to be the national food of my birthland, Jamaica. I love Ackee and saltfish with rice, dumpling, food, roast breadfruit, hardough bread, whatever it’s served with I’m eating.
Ackee which hails from West Africa has a creamy texture and bland flavor. I like to think of it as a blank slate. Many people compare it to scrambled egg but I am sure that has more to do with appearance than flavor. To make Ackee & Saltfish, cook the yellow fruit in water and then combine it with salt fish that has been cooked and flaked. The dish is then seasoned with, fresh herbs and black pepper or hot pepper or both to make a tasty entree that’s perfect any time of day. An ackee & saltfish recipe appears at the bottom of this post.
Ackee, as shown here, bears in triplets in a single pod. Occasionally you may come across a twin or quadruplet. Unopened ackee contains a toxin called hypoglycin. So it is crucial that you only use ackee from pods that have opened naturally on the tree. When purchasing canned ackee make certain it comes from a reputable producer. Ackee cooks and falls apart very easily. If you are using raw ackee, place them in a strainer, or steamer basket to boil for about 7 minutes. That way you can easily remove them from the water.
- 3 TB oil
- ½ med onion sliced
- 1 sprig thyme
- 2 – 3 thin slices hot pepper
- 1 sm tomato chopped ,optional
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ sm bell pepper optional
- 1 tsp allspice berries ½ tsp powder
- ½ lb. boneless salt fish
- 1 19 oz can ackee drained, about 3 doz seeds
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- To remove excess salt from the fish, cover with water and boil for about 10 minutes over med-high heat. Drain water and repeat process. After the 2nd boil, let the fish sit in cold water for about 5 minutes before handling. If using bone-in saltfish. Remove skin and large bones before flaking fish. Use a fork to flake the fish.Place a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add oil and let it heat for about 2 minutes, Add in herbs and spices. Stir in saltfish. Cover and let it simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove cover, fold in the drained ackee. Reduce the heat to medium to med- low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve with ground provisions, rice or fried dumplings and plantains for a complete Jamaican meal.
To cook the Acker, add to water with saltfish during the last 7 minutes of cooking. The ackee color will darken slightly as it cooks. Use a steamer basket or strainer if available. Otherwise, use a slotted spoon to remove the ackee from the water.