Ackee & Saltfish or Saltfish & Cabbage

Despite what a lot of people think Jamaica’s national dish is not patties, curry goat or even rice and peas. It is in fact the wonderful delicacy of ackee and saltfish. For many years of my life I didn’t enjoy ackee and would refuse to eat it, but since seeing the light I now hold it very close to my heart and it is one of my favourite dishes. Ackee made it's way to Jamaica from Ghana many moons ago and is in fact a fruit which has a slightly savoury flavour and buttery texture. I'm not sure who decided to say it tastes like scrambled egg (maybe because of how it looks) but it has a very unique flavour that I wouldn't liken to eggs at all.

Due to my early disdain for ackee my mother was forced to make saltfish and cabbage for me so I have included that recipe for you to try as well. I use sweet potatoes as they are easy to come by but usually I would have it with pumpkin.

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DifficultyBeginner

Yields4 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time20 minsTotal Time30 mins

 250 g Skinless, boneless saltfish
 1 brown onion chopped
 1 large scallion chopped
 ½ red sweet pepperchopped
 ¼ yellow sweet pepper chopped
 ¼ green sweet pepper chopped
 6 garlic cloves chopped
 1 tsp garlic granules
 1 tsp ground pimento
 ½ tsp ground black pepper
 ½ tsp mixed herbs
 sea saltto taste
 handful fresh thyme
 4 bay leaves
 2 scotch bonnet peppers chopped or whole
 1 vine tomato chopped
 4 tbsp sunflower oil
 Olive oil
 1 540g tin of Ackee drained
 350 g sweet potatochopped
 ½ white cabbage sliced

Saltfish
1

Prepare your saltfish by soaking it in cold water overnight so it can be re-hydrated.

2

When you’re ready, boil the saltfish in fresh water until it starts to froth. If boiling it more than once use fresh water every time.

3

When you have finished boiling the saltfish strain off all the water and rinse with cold water to cool it down.

4

Use your fingers to pull the saltfish apart into smaller bite size chunks and set aside.

5

Heat up the sunflower oil in your pot.

6

Add in the brown onions, scallion, garlic and if you chopped the scotch bonnet add it in now. Simmer for 5 minutes on a medium heat.

7

Add in the sweet peppers and saltfish and mix well.

8

Add in the pimento, black pepper, mixed herbs, garlic granules, bay leaves and fresh thyme and mix well

9

Add in some water if you want a bit of extra gravy.

10

Leave to simmer for 5 mins on a medium heat.

Ackee & Saltfish
11

Add in your strained ackee and mix well with a fork. Be careful not to mash the ackee as it is very delicate

12

Leave to simmer for a further 5 mins on a low heat.

13

Add in chopped tomato, drizzle some olive oil and then turn off the fire and leave to rest until ready to serve.

Saltfish & Cabbage
14

Add in chopped sweet potato and leave to simmer on a medium heat for approx 5 mins until the potato are half way cooked through.

15

If necessary add in some more water, and then add in cabbage.

16

Leave to simmer for about 10 mins on a low-medium heat until cabbage is cooked.

17

Once the cabbage is cooked, mix everything together. Salt to taste. Turn the heat off and serve.


In the UK it is near enough impossible to get fresh ackee so we use tinned. If cooked right it will still make a very nice ackee and saltfish but fresh ackee has a slightly different taste and is 100% better! For this recipe I used skinless boneless saltfish from Cawood's and would highly recommend using this brand over any other. I only boil my saltfish once, max twice as the more times you boil it the most salt you remove and you will end up having to add salt back in when you’re cooking (which I find a bit pointless). I like to add a bit of water to my saltfish so that i'm able to create some gravy and also use less oil; as saltfish is cured with salt all of the water is removed from the fish and so it cooks quite dry.

Be careful when mixing the ackee as it is extremely delicate and will break up very easily - I always use a fork and mix it as few times as possible.

Although not traditional i like to drizzle some olive oil over my ackee and saltfish when it's almost finished just for added flavour as I think it tastes amazing!

Ackee and saltfish can be eaten for breakfast or dinner with fried dumplings, fried breadfruit, boiled hard food or even plain rice. I keep the accompaniments quite simple and usually add some fried plantain for a little sweetness and ripe avocado.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIoSWdeLOHs

Ingredients

 250 g Skinless, boneless saltfish
 1 brown onion chopped
 1 large scallion chopped
 ½ red sweet pepperchopped
 ¼ yellow sweet pepper chopped
 ¼ green sweet pepper chopped
 6 garlic cloves chopped
 1 tsp garlic granules
 1 tsp ground pimento
 ½ tsp ground black pepper
 ½ tsp mixed herbs
 sea saltto taste
 handful fresh thyme
 4 bay leaves
 2 scotch bonnet peppers chopped or whole
 1 vine tomato chopped
 4 tbsp sunflower oil
 Olive oil
 1 540g tin of Ackee drained
 350 g sweet potatochopped
 ½ white cabbage sliced

Directions

Saltfish
1

Prepare your saltfish by soaking it in cold water overnight so it can be re-hydrated.

2

When you’re ready, boil the saltfish in fresh water until it starts to froth. If boiling it more than once use fresh water every time.

3

When you have finished boiling the saltfish strain off all the water and rinse with cold water to cool it down.

4

Use your fingers to pull the saltfish apart into smaller bite size chunks and set aside.

5

Heat up the sunflower oil in your pot.

6

Add in the brown onions, scallion, garlic and if you chopped the scotch bonnet add it in now. Simmer for 5 minutes on a medium heat.

7

Add in the sweet peppers and saltfish and mix well.

8

Add in the pimento, black pepper, mixed herbs, garlic granules, bay leaves and fresh thyme and mix well

9

Add in some water if you want a bit of extra gravy.

10

Leave to simmer for 5 mins on a medium heat.

Ackee & Saltfish
11

Add in your strained ackee and mix well with a fork. Be careful not to mash the ackee as it is very delicate

12

Leave to simmer for a further 5 mins on a low heat.

13

Add in chopped tomato, drizzle some olive oil and then turn off the fire and leave to rest until ready to serve.

Saltfish & Cabbage
14

Add in chopped sweet potato and leave to simmer on a medium heat for approx 5 mins until the potato are half way cooked through.

15

If necessary add in some more water, and then add in cabbage.

16

Leave to simmer for about 10 mins on a low-medium heat until cabbage is cooked.

17

Once the cabbage is cooked, mix everything together. Salt to taste. Turn the heat off and serve.

Ackee & Saltfish or Saltfish & Cabbage

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