Adventures of a Bookish Foodie: Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish

Please welcome Monday's Cozy Chef, Author Simone Salmon! Simone is a Jamaican born New Yorker, who enjoys cooking, especially Jamaican dishes and Ackee and Saltfish is one of her faves. Ackee and saltfish is Jamaica’s national dish. In Jamaica, the local drawl sounds more like, ackee and sall-fish. Saltfish is known as codfish in the USA and bacalao to Spanish folks. No matter the label, Simone assures us it's delicious. Jamaicans also prepare saltfish with callaloo or often with cooked vegetables.

Her novel, Camille and the Bears of Beisa – Drafnel takes place in multiple settings one of which happens to be her homeland, Jamaica, WI. In the novel, Catherine tells the story of her abusive childhood while she cooks leftover Jamaican food. According to one review Drafnel, the first novel in the Camille and the Bears of Beisa series by Simone Salmon, is a major genre-bender. Equal parts paranormal thriller, romance, sweeping sci-fi novel and folkloric fantasy all wrapped together, Salmon manages to weave them all into an absorbing whole. Drafnel is scheduled for release on August 28, 2015; you can read more of this review here.
Ackee is a member of the Sapindaceae (soapberry family), as are the lychee and the longan. It is native to tropical West Africa in Cameroon, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

The scientific name honours Captain William Bligh who took the fruit from Jamaica to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England in 1793 and introduced it to science. The common name is derived from the West African Akan akye fufo.

The fruit was imported to Jamaica from West Africa (probably on a slave ship) before 1778. Since then it has become a major feature of various Caribbean cuisines, and is also cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas elsewhere around the world.

Ackee can be toxic if eaten before fully ripening. Some people say ackee tastes and looks like eggs, however I strongly disagree. There is no other food that is close in comparison. You’re just going to have to eat it yourself to experience the flavors. Anywho, today I’m sharing the recipe for cooking ackee with saltfish because my kids and I get to enjoy this meal almost every Sunday for breakfast.

Ingredients – (Note: I borrowed the measurements from the Food Network, so you will need to play around until you figure out the right proportions because, honey, I cook by sight and taste.)

Photo Credit: Thedeliciouslife
1/2 pound boneless salted codfish (or a 3lb bag of dried bacalao)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I substitute with olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I don’t use garlic)
1 sprig fresh thyme (thyme’s always good, but not necessary)
2 onions, sliced (I use half of a large onion)
4 scallions, chopped (not necessary)
1 cup sliced assorted bell peppers (red, green, yellow, orange) (I use only green bell peppers)
1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped with seeds removed (or crushed red pepper flakes)
1 (20-ounce) can ackee, drained
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Photo Credit: Foodnetwork
Soak the saltfish in water overnight or boil before cooking in the morning. If you decide to soak, make sure to drain the water once before morning. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute all of the vegetables and spices. Add the saltfish and cook until tender and flaky. Last, add the ackee to the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes or until the color is yellow. Stir in the black pepper and turn off the stove.
This meal should be served with dumplings and plantains – honey, if you can get your hands on some breadfruit, green bananas and yellow yam…hold-on while I salivate….phew – you’ll be going back for seconds and thirds. I’m not even gonna front - I end up eating this meal all day long.



Simone Salmon, a Jamaican born New Yorker, is the mother of two sons and a Jack Russell terrier. Simone is still working on her exit strategy from Corporate America, but in the meantime she writes novels, poetry and expands her multisensory perceptions. She is a spiritual truth seeker who appreciates psychic phenomena and timelessness.  Music of all kinds, warm weather, lounging on the beach, and experiencing the unknown are just a few of her most favorite things.

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  1. Hi Rachel - thanks so much for including me on your blog. Wishing you continued success!!


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