I think this evening I’ll be going home to make some ackee and saltfish as it is due a visit on my dinner plate. I recently purchased some ackee from the market and removed the seeds to prevent them from going bad, Last time, because of my laziness, I was not as lucky. I left them in the fridge with seeds for a few days, and by the time I went to check on them, most of them had gone soft.
I suspect it had a lot to do with the texture of the ackees. Those were of a softer texture, what is referred to as “butter ackee”, however the ones I purchased recently were firmer and less susceptible to spoilage. With that said, I am looking forward to whipping up some delicious ackee and saltfish with a nice green scotch bonnet pepper to add a lovely flavour and give it a nice peppery kick.
Ackee and saltfish is Jamaica’s national dish and is usually enjoyed as either a breakfast food or seen on the dinner menu. It is most commonly served with fried dumplings or roasted breadfruit but it has also been seen in the company of steaming hot, boiled bananas, yellow yam and other ground provisions. The contrast in texture between the salted cod and the ackee creates a good overall balance in the meal. The firm bites of cod with the tender, silky texture of the ackee make a really nice, harmonious pairing. When sauteed with fresh herbs and seasonings the flavour is remarkable. Today I’ll be having mine with a side of oven roasted breadfruit, or maybe some boiled yellow yam. I can’t seem to make my mind up, decisions, decisions. The star of the dish will be the ackee and the saltfish. See what I
Add the water to a pot and allow it to come to a boil
Wash the cod with tap water to remove excess salt and place into the pot along with the ackee. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the ackee is tender enough to break apart easily with a fork.
Strain the water from the ackee and allow to drain for 3-5 minutes
Remove the cod from the pot and run under tap water until it is cool enough to handle. Using a knife, remove the scales from the cod. Break the cod apart into small flakes, ensuring to remove the bones while flaking.
In a clean, hot pan pour the 3 tablespoons of oil and add the chopped onion, scallion, peppers, garlic and thyme and stir. Add the flaked cod to the pan, stir and then add the ackee. Add the black pepper and stir gently to combine all the ingredients.
Allow to cook for approximately 1-2 minutes then serve
For this recipe I used freshly picked ackee which I purchased at the market. However, canned ackee works just as well and will reduce the cooking time significantly as it is usually precooked. Although I like the salty flavour that is achieved by cooking the ackee and salted cod together, the cod can be cooked separately from the ackee, in which case the cod can be soaked for several hours in different changes of water before cooking. This will reduce the salt intensity and also the cooking time. Taste the cod before flaking to ensure that it is at the desired saltiness. Cooking in fresh changes of water will also help to reduce the salt content and in a case where too much of the salt is lost, the desired saltiness can be restored by simply adding salt when all the ingredients are combined at the final cooking stage.