Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish Recipe

Welcome to our step-by-step guide on how to prepare authentic Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish! A national favorite, this flavorful dish embodies the vibrant spirit of Jamaican cuisine. Packed with unique ingredients, our recipe guarantees the perfect balance of savory and spicy. Perfect for seasoned cooks or beginners wanting to try Caribbean food, this delicious and simple to follow Ackee and Saltfish recipe will transport your taste buds to the sunny coasts of Jamaica. Don’t miss out on this chance to bring a piece of Jamaica to your kitchen!

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  • 1 can of ackee (approximately 19 oz), drained and rinsed or fresh ackee if available
  • 1/2 lb of salted cod
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded and finely chopped (use gloves for handling)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Optional: for serving, boiled green bananas, fried dumplings, or breadfruit

Please remember that Scotch bonnet peppers are very hot. Adjust the quantity to your preference and always handle them with gloves to avoid skin irritation. Also, if you’re using fresh ackee, please ensure that it’s fully ripe and properly cleaned. Unripe or improperly prepared ackee can be toxic.

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Prepare the Saltfish:

Start by soaking the salted cod in cold water for at least two hours, or preferably overnight, to remove most of the salt. Change the water several times during this process. After soaking, boil the saltfish in fresh water for about 20 minutes until it’s tender. Drain, cool, and flake the fish, removing any bones and skin.

Prepare the Ackee:

If you’re using canned ackee, simply drain and rinse it under cold water. If you’re using fresh ackee, make sure it’s fully ripe (it should open naturally), remove the red tissue and the black seeds, and wash thoroughly. Boil the fresh ackee in water until it’s soft, then drain and set aside. Note: Unripe ackee can be toxic, so be careful.

Cook the Dish:

Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Sauté until they are softened and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped Scotch bonnet pepper, diced tomatoes, thyme, and black pepper to the pan. Cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes are softened.

Add the flaked saltfish to the pan and stir to combine with the vegetable mixture. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until the flavors are well combined.

Gently fold in the ackee. Be careful not to stir too vigorously as the ackee is very delicate and can easily break apart. Cook for another 5 minutes until the ackee is heated through.

Sprinkle with sliced spring onions (scallions) and serve.

Ackee and Saltfish is traditionally served with boiled green bananas, fried dumplings, or breadfruit. However, it also pairs well with rice or toast. Enjoy your authentic Jamaican meal!

Remember: Always be careful when handling raw ingredients and ensure everything is cooked properly to avoid foodborne illnesses.

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The History of Ackee and Saltfish
Jamaica’s National Dish

About our establishment

Ackee and Saltfish, widely recognized as Jamaica’s national dish, has a rich and interesting history that intertwines with the country’s colonial past and its African roots.

The Ackee Fruit

The ackee fruit, despite being a major component of Jamaican cuisine, is not indigenous to the Caribbean. The fruit is native to West Africa, and it is believed to have arrived in Jamaica during the 18th century via the transatlantic slave trade. The name “ackee” is derived from the original name “Ankye” from the Akan language of Ghana.

Ackee is a unique fruit; only a specific part of it can be eaten. The fruit must be fully ripe before consumption, as unripe ackee contains high levels of hypoglycin A and B, toxins that can cause severe illness or even death. When ripe, the fruit naturally opens to reveal three large black seeds surrounded by soft, creamy yellow flesh, which is the edible portion.


Saltfish, or salted cod, is another central ingredient in this dish. The use of salted cod dates back to the 15th century when Portuguese fishermen, fishing in the cold waters of Newfoundland, began preserving the fish in salt to make it last longer. Saltfish became a major item of trade and found its way to the Caribbean.

Ackee and Saltfish

The combination of ackee and saltfish seems to have originated during the time of slavery. Enslaved Africans would often pair available local ingredients with imported goods, resulting in this unique dish. The saltfish was inexpensive and could be stored for a long time, making it a staple food source.

Over time, the dish has been embraced widely and is now a hallmark of Jamaican cuisine. Ackee and saltfish is not only a favored breakfast dish but also enjoyed at other meal times for its hearty and savory flavor. The dish is commonly served with breadfruit, boiled bananas, dumplings, or rice and peas.

The history of ackee and saltfish is a testament to the resilience and creativity of Jamaican culture and its African roots. The dish, born out of necessity and survival, is now a proud symbol of the island’s culinary heritage and national identity.

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