Ackee and Saltfish
Chow Down on Jam Down’s National Dish!
Jamaicans and a big plate of Ackee and Saltfish go hand in hand. This is because Ackee and Saltfish is the National Dish of Jamaica and is a beloved breakfast favourite of Jamaicans worldwide.
Jamaicans ‘nuh ramp’ (don’t play around) when it comes to our love for this dish. Some of us have Ackee and Saltfish for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even supper! If you’re a Jamaican by birth, parentage, association, or adoption, you must learn how to prepare this iconic dish.
Below, you’ll find my easy-to-follow recipe, my best cooking tips and step-by-step instructions, to help you cook the most tasty pot of Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish you’ve ever had!
Ackee – Delicious or Dangerous?
Ackee is a tropical fruit that is often in season. The fruit is popular amongst vegans and non-vegans alike because of its smooth buttery flavour. Ackee is healthy and delicious and can be eaten either raw or cooked. However, ackees must be fully ripe before picking and consuming. This is because unripe ackee (ackee that hasn’t opened naturally), is dangerous to eat and can be fatal. In fact, ackee has been listed among the Top 10 Most Dangerous Foods in the world. Surprisingly, however, this risk does not dilute the passion Jamaicans have for their national dish.
How to Cook Saltfish (not too Salty or too Bland)
‘Saltfish’ is a fish preserved by coating it with a substantial amount of salt. The types of fish typically sold as ‘saltfish’, are salted codfish, pollock or any other whitefish.
The main challenge some people face when cooking saltfish, is getting the saltfish to have the right balance of salt. To ensure the saltfish isn’t too salty, you must boil or soak it to remove the excess salt. On the other hand, some people over-boil or over-soak their fish making it bland to eat. So how do you get your saltfish to have the right amount of ‘saltiness’? I recommend soaking or boiling the fish in stages. During the process of boiling or soaking, test a piece of the saltfish near the bone at intervals to determine if the taste suits you.
So, now it’s time to jump right into my Ackee and Saltfish Recipe. Go ahead and follow the recipe step-by-step, and once you’ve tried it, message me and say how it works for you. I hope my tips have made you more confident in regularly cooking this classic Jamaican dish at home.
Ackee and Saltfish goes great with foods like fried dumplings, roasted or fried breadfruit, hard dough bread, boiled ground provision, bammies or Jamaican festivals…or when I think about it – just about everything!
How to Make the Best Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish! (Step-by-Step Recipe)
- 540 ml canned ackee (pre-cooked)
- 1 lb de-boned saltfish (salted codfish or pollock)
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- ¼ medium green bell pepper de-seeded & chopped, (optional)
- 1 small tomato diced
- 1 large garlic clove chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme chopped, (optional)
- 1 stalk scallion/green onions chopped
- ¼ small scotch bonnet pepper de-seeded & chopped. ADD SCOTCH BONNET PEPPER TO TASTE (*pepper seeds are super hot so removed them prior to cooking!)
- 4-6 pimento seeds
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Boiling method: Rinse the saltfish thoroughly by running tap water over it to remove the excess salt. Add the saltfish to a large pot of water and let boil (uncovered) for 30 - 35 minutes. Pour off the salted water and taste a tiny bit of your saltfish. If the saltfish is too salty, return it to the pot with adequate water to cover the fish, then boil for another 5 -8 minutes. Remove the fish from the pot and place it in a bowl of cool water.
- Soaking method (slow): Rinse the saltfish by running tap water over it to remove excess salt, then place it to soak in a large bowl filled with hot water. Let the saltfish soak overnight for up to 8 hrs. Pour off the salted water and taste a tiny bit of the saltfish to determine if it has the desired amount of salt. If it is still salty, add hot water and let it soak for another 10 minutes.
- Use the serrated edge of a dinner knife to gently scrape the scales and thick silvery skin from the fish. For (bone-in) saltfish, remove the bones and discard.If you are using boneless saltfish, skip ahead to the next step.
- When the saltfish has cooled, use your fingers to 'flake' it into smaller pieces.
- Prep the seasonings and set aside.
- Drain the canned ackee and set aside.
- In a large, wide skillet, heat the cooking oil on medium-high heat for 30 seconds.
- Sauté the chopped seasoning lightly (about 10 seconds), then add the flaked saltfish.
- Using a large wooden spoon, stir-fry the saltfish with the seasonings for 1 minute.
- Cover the pot, and let cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.
- Add the cooked ackee, sprinkle with black pepper, then toss all ingredients together to stir-fry for 2 minutes.
- Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and let cook for 3 minutes.
- Uncover stir the pot, turn off the heat and let rest for 2 minutes.
- Serve your delicious Ackee and Saltfish with roasted or fried breadfruit, fried dumplings, or boiled ground provisions.
- Bless up and enjoy it!
- Please remember to come back after you've tried this recipe to leave me a 5-Star Rating & Review if you enjoyed it. Thanks in advance 🙂
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