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.

uncooked ackee in the pod
Ackee as a 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 important 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. The pods should be allowed to open naturally on the tree
uncooked bone-in saltfish
Buy saltfish in boneless or bone-in varieties at grocery stores where Caribbean or Hispanic foods are sold. When preparing saltfish some of the salt should be cooked out of the fish before combining it with other ingredients. To do this, place the fish in a pot of boiling water and let if cook for 10 minutes. Taste a small piece of the fish for saltiness. If it is too salty discard the water, add fresh water to the fish and boil for an additional 5 minutes

boiling saltfish


boiling ackee in a steamer basket
if you have any experience at all with cooking raw ackee you know that ackee is a very soft food. To keep the ackee from boiling away is an enduring challenge. The best fix I have found thus far is to place the ackee in a steamer basket (or metal colander or strainer) Place the basket inside a pot of salted boiling water. Cover the pot and let the ackee steam for 10- 12 minutes. Ackee should be soft and fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.
draining cooked ackee
whether you’re using canned or raw ackee. The ackee must be drained before you combine it with the other ingredients.

Ackee & Saltfish Recipe

  • 1 Can of ackee (drained, about 3 doz seeds)
  • ¼ lb. boneless salt fish
  • 3 TB oil
  • 1 med. onion (sliced)
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • ¼ hot pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1 sm. tomato (chopped ,optional)
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 sm bell pepper (optional)
  1. 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.

If you are lucky enough to get fresh ackee.
To cook ackee add to water with saltfish during last 7 minutes of cooking. The ackee color will change from light to dark yellow. When cooked ackee will pierce easily with a fork and may begin to fall apart in the water. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ackee from the water.


sautee saltfish and seasonings
Because ackee is so soft, and it absorbs flavors easily it is best to sautee the seasonings and saltfish before adding the ackee.

cooking ackee and saltfish

Ackee & Saltfish with Roast breadfruit and steamed cabbage