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Ackee, it’s a funny old fruit- literally. Looks like a weird alien when it’s getting ripe on a tree, tastes like scrambled egg when it’s in your pan.
I went to Jamaica at the start of the year; not actually the birth place of ackee but they’ve certainly made it their own. One of the most famous dishes from this glorious island, after jerk chicken, is ackee and salt fish. I could not get enough of it when I was out there! And no wonder it’s such a popular dish, ackee grows blooming everywhere. This was actually one of my favourite things about Jamaica, it’s so lush! The island really wants to feed you and it’s got great taste.
Ackee and salt fish is good any time of the day but, in my opinion, the best time to eat it is in the morning. It’s full of flavour but it’s not crazy spicy so it’s a good warm up dish for the day.
Here’s what you’ll need
A tin of ackee (I have yet to find it fresh in Bristol)
500 g salt fish
Quite a large knob of butter (about a tablespoon)
1 tomato – chopped
1 Onion – finely chopped
1 Scotch bonnet – finely chopped
Sweet peppers – chopped
A few sprigs of thyme – leaves stripped
Clove of garlic – finely chopped
First up you’ve got to soak your salt fish. Plonk it in some cold water and leave it for at least eight hours. changing the water every few hours. (Cheat: Klynton and I wanted ackee and salt fish again the day after we cooked it “properly” so we just soaked the salt fish for 20 minutes and then boiled it but changed the water a few times, was a bit more salty but we preferred it this way).
Once your salt fish is soaked boil it in water for about 20 minutes, or until it’s tender and flakes easily. Remove from the water and flake it.
Next, melt the butter in a pan. Then fry your onions, garlic, sweet pepper, chilli and thyme leaves for about 3 minutes. Don’t do it to high, don’t let the onions brown (it changes their taste, you just want them to sweat and soften)
Add in your tomatoes and flaked salt fish and cook for about 1o minutes, again keep the heat nice and steady.
Now it’s time to add your glorious ackee. This fruit is soft as butter and it really wants to fall apart so, after you have drained them, very gently place them in to your pan and just fold the ackee into the mixture. I used a pan with a lid so I could just cover it and let the ackee heat through. Once that’s happened you are done!
Ackee and salt fish is a wet food and in Jamaica that means you eat it with a hard food. Klynton made boiled dumplings for us which is literally flour, water and salt rolled into thick discs and boiled for 20 minutes. Yummy yum yum.