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August 9, 2013

Ackee & Salt Fish Jamaica’s National Dish

A One Love Breakfast for the Whole Family Super nutritious, gluten, dairy & egg free

The flavors of Caribbean cuisine inspire thoughts of eating meals outside among ocean views and warm breezes, unique spices, strange fruit and the merging of the best of a multitude of international food favorites. It is inherently a cuisine of many cultures.

One of my most favorite meals is Jamaica’s national dish ackee & salt fish. The ackee tree is an evergreen that is native to West Africa and was brought to Jamaica in the 1700s. Ackee is considered the national fruit of Jamaica and can be found all over the island. As it ripens, the bright red fruit splits exposing the cream-colored tender flesh and large shiny black seeds. Once lightly cooked, it is strangely similar in texture and appearance to scrambled eggs.

I make this dish for my family on special occasions or when I am feeling the need for a little tropical flair. Ackee (the fruit) and salt fish (boneless salted cod usually) can be found in Caribbean grocery stores, of which we have one in NE Portland, or canned ackee can be purchased online. Of course fresh ackee is best, but canned works very well. Salt fish requires special preparation before adding to the recipe (see below for details). Being in the Pacific NW, I often substitute smoked salmon instead of salt fish which tastes fantastic.

The dish is absolutely delightful and combines ackee, sautéed vegetables, and salt fish (or salmon). It is similar to a breakfast scramble. It is traditionally served with fried dumplings, bammy (Jamaican cassava bread similar to the flat bread of the Arawaks, Jamaica’s original inhabitants), or boiled or fried plantain.


3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 cup thinly sliced onions

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

hot pepper to taste - minced

1/3 cup sweet green pepper - diced

1 pound boneless salt fish or smoked salmon - flaked into small pieces

1 pound shelled ackees

sea salt and black pepper to taste

green onions - thinly sliced for garnish


1 large fry pan with cover

1 large spoon

cutting board


1. Heat oil in pan over medium high heat

2. Saute onions until translucent - few minutes

3. Stir in vegetables and spices (hot pepper, green pepper, tomatoes, sea salt, pepper)

4. Cover and allow to cook for few minutes

5. Add flaked fish and gently combine all ingredients

6. Add ackees and toss carefully - be careful to not break up ackees

7. Cook covered for approximately 5 minutes

8. Sprinkle green onions on top and serve hot

special notes:

If using canned ackees, drain off all water before adding to vegetable and fish saute.

Be sure to de-salt your salt fish because it is very salty. To remove some of the salt, boil salt fish in water for 15-20 minutes 2 times. Use fresh water the second time.

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