Ackee and Saltfish

This is a favorite Jamaican meal. Ackee and saltfish is known to be Jamaica’s national dish. Though it can be enjoyed at any time of day it is mainly served at breakfast with fried or boiled dumplings, bread, boiled green bananas and/or roasted breadfruit. Ackee is a fruit grown on a tree in orange to red pods. As a child my family grew this tree among other fruit in our backyard. The key with cooking this fruit is to ensure it is boiled until soft, if not this fruit has a poisonous effect. In addition, it is important to clean and de-seed it well prior to cooking. Codfish, called saltfish in Jamaica, is bought after it has been dried and salted. Preparing this fish for this meal requires rinsing off the salt, boiling the fish and then soaking to remove additional salt that may make the fish too salty to taste.

Many visitors to Jamaica, when served ackee relates its appearance to scrambled eggs, but believe me it does not have the slightest taste of an egg. I am sure you will enjoy ackee and saltfish…try it on your next visit to Jamaica.

Ackee and Saltfish breakfast with green banana and fried dumplings.

Photo by Chrysaora

Where to purchase Ackee

If you are in the United States, some Wal-Mart branches sell ackee canned, already prepared. Most Caribbean groceries in the United States also carry this fruit already cooked and canned.

Here is my recipe


1 can Ackee

2 cooking tomatoes

1 large stalk scallion or green onions



Black pepper

Garlic (optional)

Olive oil

1 lb saltfish

Boil saltfish in hot water until soft.
Drain and pour cold or room temperature water on hot saltfish to remove heat, and excess salt (repeat cold/room/tap water to remove excess salt).
Remove scales from saltfish by scrapping with a kitchen knife.
Break saltfish into small pieces (remove fish bones).
Set aside in dish.
Open canned Ackee with a can opener.
Use a colander to drain.

Cooking Directions

Heat a large skillet until hot.
Place ½ cup olive oil in heated pot (can add more oil later if desired).
Place 1 chopped onion in pot, with chopped scallion, 2 chopped tomatoes, and 1 tspn thyme and garlic.
Sautee until begin to soften.
Add saltfish.
Add black pepper to taste.
Stir while cooking for 3 minutes.
Add ackee by gently mixing in with saltfish (ackee is soft from being pre-cooked; try not to break ackee to small pieces).
Cover on low for approximately 3-5 minutes.
Let simmer.

Serve warm.

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