Almost every country has a culinary dish that distinguishes them from other meals found in other countries. Popularly referred to as a ‘National Dish’, there is something unique about this culinary treat that makes it a favourite among the population and expected visitors of a particular country.
In this regard, Jamaica is simply no different. Ackee and Saltfish (salted codfish) is Jamaica’s national dish.
The National Geographic book ‘Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places To Eat Around The Globe.’ has ranked Ackee and Saltfish among the top 10 National Dishes.
One National Dish, Many Cultures
The Jamaican motto is ‘Out of Many, One People’. By the same token, our cuisine is a combination of flavours, spices and techniques inherited from the varied early inhabitants of our land, including the Spanish, Europeans, Africans, Indians, Chinese and others.
Ackee is a fruit that was imported from Ghana to the Caribbean in the early 1700s. When boiled, ackee by itself arguably has no distinct taste; however, it resembles scrambled eggs.
In the same way, Saltfish was introduced to the Caribbean in the early 1600s in return for molasses, rum, sugar, and salt.
One Dish, Served Several Ways
Most Jamaican homes will boast about making the best Ackee and Saltfish dish. Additionally, some will even claim to know the best food starch accompaniment to this national dish. Sometimes it is served with fried dumplings, boiled dumpling, green banana, yam (any variety), fried bammy, and so on. You will hardly go wrong if you decide to also serve it up with some callaloo, a few slices of avocado pear and ripe plantains. Are you hungry yet?
Try out this recipe for Ackee and Saltfish below, and share in the comments what is your own special touch to this national dish.
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 small sweet pepper, julienne
2 dozen cooked ackee (drained of water)
Small scotch bonnet pepper, chopped (if desired)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
A tablespoon of Vegetable Oil
2 stalk(s) escallion, chopped
1/2 pound(s) saltfish
2 clove(s) garlic, chopped
Ackee and Saltfish Directions
- Put Saltfish to soak in cold water for about 1 hour
- Pour off the water, add fresh water, and cook until tender
- De-bone and flake the Saltfish
- Heat Vegetable Oil and saute onion; garlic; escallion; tomato; scotch bonnet pepper, and sweet pepper.
- Add flaked Saltfish, Ackee, and black pepper.
- Toss lightly to combine the seasonings without breaking up the ackee too much.
- Cover and allow to stand over low heat for about 2 minutes
- Serve hot with your choice of sides