12/09/2013

Ackees, Callaloo & Smoked Haddock

Ackees, Callaloo & Smoked Haddock
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 & Saltfish.

Notice the order of the words? Ackees are the attraction, saltfish is the sideshow.

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, perfectly edible with the consistency of lightly scrambled egg.

Callaloo, again Jamaican, traditionally uses amaranth leaves as the main constituent ingredient.

Amaranth is a superb source of vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin and folate; dietary minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. Paleo superfood!

I can get both of these ingredients canned and keep them in as store cupboard staples for times just like these - when I want a quick and tasty dinner with minimal fuss and preparation.

Ingredients

Smoked haddock, ackees and callaloo.

Butter, cooking fat, carrot, Scotch Bonnet pepper, garlic, scallions, tomato, egg, rice, black pepper and sea salt.

Lemon and parsley.

Smoked Haddock

Wrap your smoked haddock in kitchen foil with a little butter and commit to the oven set to 180C (350F?) for 20 minutes.

Egg

Boil an egg per person.

Rice

Boil your rice, press into a greased ramekin and place upside down in the corner on a waiting plate. The rice will keep warm while you cook the rest of the dish and once the ramekin is removed will leave a pleasant mound of rice on your plate.

If rice is not within your ancestral template, don't worry ...

Traditionally, Ackee & Saltfish would be eaten with some plantain, breadfruit, yam, fried dumplings or hard dough bread. Plantain, breadfruit or yam would work out really well, as would these bread balls. That, or there's always cauliflower rice.

Callaloo

Meanwhile, warm the callaloo through in a pan and just keep warm while you cook the rest of the dish. Add a generous knob of butter just before serving.

Ackees

Drain the ackees. Slice up some carrot into long matchsticks. Dice tomatoes and shred scallions - that's spring onions. Finely shred a Scotch Bonnet pepper.

Melt your favourite paleo cooking fat in a heavy-based pan. I went with goose fat, but coconut oil would be really good. Toss the carrot through a few times - you want the carrot warm, but not sogged. Just a little cooking is perfect.

Add in the ackees. Toss well and warm through.

Now the Scotch Bonnet pepper, shredded. Use it all if you like it hot, just a bit if you only like a likkle tickle. Garlic, too - skinned and sliced thinly.

Finally, the scallions and tomato just to toss through and serve out. Salt and pepper to taste. Remember, the smoked haddock might be salty, so go easy there.

Serve

Serve this lot in the middle of the plate, pushing a bowl of callaloo onto the plate and lay a couple of egg halves on top. Callaloo and eggs are just lovely together - in fact, a sort of Eggs Florentine could be put together using callaloo.

What a lovely spread of colour! If the callaloo was not alongside, I'd wilt some spinach into the ackees.

Retrieve the haddock from the oven and lay over the ackees, butter poured over and wedge of lemon with a sprig of parsley to garnish. Eat.

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