This dish is very popular among Rastafarians and Jamaicans, and vegetarians alike. Many Jamaicans eat Ackee and Saltfish for Breakfast, or for Dinner. If being eaten for dinner have it with a side of white Rice, If being eaten for breakfast, eat with a side of fried dumplings.
Saltfish is a very salty fish. It must be soaked in order to be palatable. Soaking salt fish in cold water will remove some of the salt while still preserving some of the salty flavor. To prepare salt fish to be eaten, it is usually soaked over night. Try to soak it for about 12 hours. Personally, I would taste it after 10 hours and see if you would like to soak it for another 2 hours or not. If you soak your cod during the day, change the water approx. every 3-4 hours. Place it in a glass bowl for soaking. (this is not a must) You should use about 1 5 inch by 3 inch piece of cod fish (saltfish) for one can of ackee
- Ackee usually comes “in a can” in western society, there is no preparation.
Other ingredients you will need for your tasty meal.
- Onion – finely chop your onions. How much do you need? Use half an onion – to a hole for 1 whole tin of Ackee.
- Black Pepper – How much, you don’t need that much I would say half a tea-spoon.
- “Thyme” – Thyme is a herb popular among Jamaicans for cooking. You should break the herb up into little pieces and let it simmer in the pan with the Ackee, then remove the pieces of thyme. But this ingredient is not a must for your Ackee and saltfish
- Tomatoes – (Optional) I never add tomatoes to my Ackee and Saltfish. I find tomatoes water down the flavor. But many Jamaicans do add this ingredient
- green pepper, and red pepper – 1 quarter of this ingredient, finely sliced, don’t worry about how fine they need to be, just slice them thin and not in long strips. Opt for shorter strips, do the same with one red pepper as well. So you will have One quarter of a green pepper finely sliced, and one-quarter of a red pepper finely sliced.
buy the saltfish that says “boneless” or you will have a lot of work on your hands trying to remove those “fine” bones.
Preparing the saltfish for cooking
Rinse your cod under cold water,break the cod-fish up with your fingers into tiny flakes the tinier the flakes the better. Do not “smoosh the flakes.” Just shred them between your fingers. The fish once it has been soaked will be easily separated.
How to cook your Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish
- In a sauce pan, put a little bit of oil, maybe 3 table spoons, or you can cook it with water if you like too. Add oil or water as needed. (over low to med heat)
- Put your ackee into the pan
- let simmer for about 4-6 minutes, allowing the ackee to mash-up into small pieces. It will get so mashed up, that it may just look like it has already been chewed. This is progress. then…
- add your finely chopped onions, and all other ingredients, let simmer 4-6 minutes.
- Next add you saltfish, and mix it in with the other ingredients in the sauce pan. Only keep on the fire for about 3-4 minutes.
If this is your first time cooking Ackee and Saltfish, the Ackee may smell like pee. I It does smell that way to me. But it tastes so good. I made this meal for an old boyfriend, who was white and originally from Poland. He ate the whole thing up, and when he was done he said “where is the rest?” So, it is delicious regardless of the smell.
Where to buy your own Ackee
I live in Canada. We have many Caribbean grocery stores here, perhaps you could find one locally. If not, most big chain grocery stores have a carribean section and you may find your “Ackee in a Can”, there.
Where to buy your own Saltfish
I have always bought my Saltfish at the Caribbean grocery stores. Usually it comes in a thick plastic covering. And is clearly marked Ackee on the outside. Dont forget to make sure it says boneless.
Enjoy your meal!