From Wikipedia, Ackee and saltfish is a traditional Jamaican dish. The ackee fruit was imported to The Caribbean from Ghana before 1725, as Ackee or Aki is another name for the Akan tribe, Akyem. It is also known as Blighia sapida. The scientific name honours Captain William Bligh who took the fruit from Jamaica to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England in 1793 and introduced it to science. Because parts of the fruit are toxic, there are shipping restrictions when being imported to countries such as the United States.
To prepare the dish, salt cod (salt fish should be soaked overnight to eliminate most of the salt) is sautéed with boiled ackee, onions, Scotch Bonnet peppers (optional), tomatoes, and spices, such as black pepper and pimiento. It can be garnished with bacon and tomatoes, and is usually served as breakfast or dinner alongside breadfruit, hard dough bread,dumplings, fried plantain, or boiled green bananas.
Ackee with SaltFish
Have you learned enough about the origin of Ackee and Saltfish? I thought I would share a little bit of history about Ackee and Saltfish before writing any sort of adventures with this marvelous dish. I’ve never tried this dish for several reasons. The first reason is because edible ackee comes in a can. I am trying to stay away from canned products. Second, it is so fragile to handle that I always end up stressing myself for no reason. If you ever cooked with Ackee you will know that it is so delicate that any little movement or a simple stir can easily break the pieces into smaller ones.
I have had this dish quite a few times and so glad that my UK friend Charlene from ThatGirlCooksHealthy.com shared her mom’s recipe with me. The original recipe mentioned that garlic and bacon were optional as it is a preference of many Jamaicans. I opted to add the garlic and not the bacon. I also added a few dropped of lemon juice just to give the saltfish a kick. I guess the bacon is to add some salt back into the dish since you would have desalted the fish completely. Interesting!!! Must try it with bacon one day when I am in the mood to cheat on my diet. 🙂
Charlene also mentioned that this dish is a served by many Jamaican family as a traditional christmas breakfast as well. I guess it is a good thing to do since there are so many dishes to prepare on Christmas day if you are having a lavish dinner that is. Most Caribbean, on the day before Christmas, will cook a lavish meal to enjoy either before midnight mass or after depending on their won family traditions.
I invite you to try this wonderful dish. By the way, the ackee can be found mostly in West-Indians or Caribbean markets. Unfortunately I cannot give any advice on any ackee’s brand. Ackee is quite expensive, so whatever price you feel comfortable with that’s what you should buy.
Happy Cooking and enjoy!
- Servings: 4
- Pack of dried salt cod skinless and boneless about 12 ounces
- 1 can ackee rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoon of Olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 to mato chopped or use one small tinned tomato
- 1/2 red and 1/2 green bell pepper deseeded and chopped
- 1/4 Scotch bonnet or 1/2 chilli stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped or 1/8 teaspoon of chilli powder
- 1 scallion thinly sliced white part only
- A few drops of fresh squeezed lemon juice optional, my version
- ground black pepper to taste
- Bacon - 4-6 rashes optional
- Cover the saltfish in cold water and let it soak overnight changing the water several times (this removes most of the salt).
- Bring a pan of cold water to the boil and gently simmer the fish for approximately 20 minutes (until the fish is tender and the salt has been removed. Any salt left should purely be for taste.
- Remove the saltfish from the water and flake into pieces in a bowl.
- Open the tin of ackee and drain in a colander. As an additional precautionary measure pour tepid salted water over the ackee to ensure it is thoroughly clean.
- Heat the oil of your choice in a frying pan.
- Sautee the onion and scallion on medium until transparent (not golden)
- Add the bell peppers and tomatoes to the pan before seasoning with thyme, garlic and the scotch bonnet.
- Continue to stir fry the vegetables, rotating the pan then add the flaked salt fish and a few drops of lemon juice.
- Add the Ackee to the frying pan with the saltfish and vegetables. Allow the ackee to heat through before removing from the stove (ensure to stir gently to avoid breaking-up the Ackee)
- Garnish the ackee and saltfish with black pepper and remaining scallions if preferred.
NotesSaltfish or Bacalao or Salt Codfish must be desalted several hours and preferably overnight before making Ackee with Saltfish. The water must be changed at least 3 - 4 times.
If you have desalted the fish too much, when cooking the ackee with saltfish, add a very small amount or salt or fish seasoning.Shop for your favorite condiments & spicesVisit Noubess!