Ackee and Saltfish has over the years become the National Dish of Jamaica, although neither ingredient is of Jamaican origin.
Ackee was probably brought to Jamaica from West Africa, but it is more widely eaten in Jamaica than anywhere else, and it has become Jamaica’s National Fruit.
Salted cod was originally imported in to Jamaica as a cheap source of protein, and it has become one of our staple foods.
Salt Fish and Ackee, or Ackee and Saltfish as some people say, can be eaten anytime, but it is very common to have it for Breakfast or Brunch.
It can be accompanied by a wide variety of other local foods … boiled Green Banana, Festival, Yam, Fried Ripe Plantain, Avocado, Hard-dough Bread, and/or Roast Breadfruit. Eat it with anything you wish … or just eat it by itself.
For the saltfish
450g/1lb salt cod
1 x 400g/14oz can ackee
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 tsp jerk seasoning
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 red pepper, seeds removed and sliced
1 yellow pepper, seeds removed and sliced
200g/7oz tomatoes, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dumplings
250g/9oz self-raising flour
30g/1oz vegetable suet
pinch of salt
vegetable oil, for frying
For the saltfish, soak the salt cod overnight, changing the water a couple of times.
Drain, then put the cod in a large pan of fresh water and bring to the boil. Drain again, add fresh water and bring to the boil again.
Simmer for about five minutes, or until cooked through, then drain and flake the fish into large pieces. Discard any skin or bones.
For the dumplings, mix the flour and suet with a pinch of salt and 250ml/9fl oz water to make a dough.
Wrap the mixture in clingfilm and leave in the fridge to rest.
Open the can of ackee, drain and rinse, then set aside.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the onion until softened but not brown.
Add the spices, seasoning, pepper sauce and sliced peppers and continue to fry until the peppers are tender.
Add the chopped tomatoes, then the salt cod and mix together. Lastly stir in the ackee very gently and leave to simmer until ready to serve.
When you’re almost ready to eat, heat about 1cm/½in vegetable oil in a frying pan and heat until just smoking.
Shape the dumpling mix into plum-size balls and shallow-fry until golden-brown. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave the pan unattended.)
Drain the dumplings on kitchen paper and serve with the saltfish and ackee.