31/08/2011

Ackee and Saltfish

Native to tropical Western Africa consumption of ackee fruit takes place mainly in Jamaica and is a staple of Jamaican cuisine, their national fruit and the key component of their national dish - Ackee and Saltfish.

Ackee is related to the lychee and produces a pear-shaped fruit. Green unripened fruit can lead to poisoning. When ripe, the fruit bursts open to reveal a bright orange/yellow flesh with the consistency of lightly scrambled egg.

Saltfish is dried and salted cod.

It is important and to read the name of this national dish - Ackee and Saltfish. This is not fish with fruit, but fruit and fish. Ackee and fish should be balanced as equal quantities.

Pass the dutchie ... we've got fish to fry ...

This dish takes some preparation - 24 hours, to be exact, or thereabouts.

First, soak the fish in water, pouring out and replacing a few times. After that, boil the fish for about half an hour and then set aside to cool.

Cooling is important since we're going to be shredding the flesh off the skin which turns gelatinous and can be lava hot!

Flake the flesh off the skin and set aside.

Drain a can of ackees and set aside.

Prepare the other ingredients ...

Slice some streaky bacon into small slices around half a centimetre, cube some red or green pepper, dice some tomatoes and spring onions (scallions, in Jamaican), and rough chop some flat leaf parsley and some thyme.

Finally, finely slice one Scotch Bonnet pepper for a likkle tikkle.

Making the dish is simply a case of putting those ingredients into a frying pan ... in the right order.

Start out with frying off the bacon to release some of its fat content. Once coloured and the fat has rendered out, toss in the fish and sautee until warm.

Add the scallions and fry for a few more minutes, tossing through the fish and bacon.

Add the peppers, tomato, chilli and thyme. Warm through, tossing through thoroughly.

Finally, add the ackees and parsley, gently tossing through to ensure all the ingredients are well mixed while retaining the structure of the delicate fruit and aromatics of the herbs.

Serve out onto a plate and enjoy.

Traditionally, Ackee and Saltfish would be eaten with some plantain, breadfruit, yam, fried dumplings or hard dough bread. Making it paleo, I like strong green vegetables alongside - kale or tenderstem broccoli are great. If you're looking for more carbohydrate, rice might be something you are happy with and makes a good accompaniment.

Certainly, a bottle of Guinness, Dragon Stout or Red Stripe is a must!

Dat a shot!

2 comments :

  1. As a jamaican i really appreciate that you do this sort of stuff. I love ackee and saltfish now but when i was little would only eat ackee and bacon. As i've got older of course my tastes have changed and i find i like a wider range (plus intolerances have forced new discoveries :0))
    Recently made some green plantain empanadas, filled with minced beef and onion - messy but totally worth it :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the compliment! It's nice to hear from you again.

      As primal tastes go, saltfish is very salty. I also eat salted fish as the Scandinavian lutefisk. I love the texture and flavour of ackee, and often eat them with all sorts of other things - alongside a simple minced beef chilli is really nice.

      I'll look into those green plantain empanadas. I'm always on the lookout for other things to do with plantain - as an active person, carbs are very welcome.

      Thanks for stopping by. See you around.

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