Levi Roots shares his recipe for Jamaica's national dish, ackee and saltfish.
Ackee is a soft canned fruit, which originated from Africa and is also very popular in many Caribbean dish. Despite being a fruit, ackee is cooked like a vegetable and has a slightly nutty flavour.
Although it’s quite bland on it’s own, ackee, ‘comes alive’ in this dish, according to chef Levi Roots, as it absorbs so many of the spices and other flavours – including ginger, garlic, thyme, onion and Scotch bonnet. This is a very delicate ingredient, which looks a bit like scrambled egg, so it’s important to be gentle with it when cooking.
You’ll find packets of salted fish in most supermarkets, usually in the ‘World Food’ aisle rather than the fish counter. Levi’s favourite is salted cod and he recommends cooking it twice to thoroughly remove all of the excess salt. This is the perfect dish to be served as a small starter or a light lunch, alongside a slice of fresh watermelon.
- 240g tinned ackee
- 200g saltfish (cod is Levi's favourite)
- 200g white onion cut into fine strips
- 200g tomatoes cut into strips
- 8g Scotch bonnet - deseeded and very finely chopped
- 10g spring onion finely chopped
- 4 sprigs of thyme - leaves only, finely chopped
- 20g garlic finely chopped
- 20g ginger finely chopped
- 50ml coconut oil
- Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Boil the saltfish in water for 10 minutes then drain.
Repeat the process with fresh water to finish cooking the fish, ensuring most of the salt has been removed.
Heat the oil and over a low heat and sauté the onion, tomato, garlic, ginger, Scotch bonnet and thyme until the onions are soft and translucent.
Flake the fish and add to the pan.
Stir gently until the fish is warmed through.
Add the ackee to the pan and stir in gently, taking care not to break it up too much.
Season with salt (only if needed) and cracked black pepper to taste.
Serve immediately, with traditional dumplings, roti or water melon wedges.