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Ackee and Saltfish

I prepared brunch on Sunday for my husband and his family and I made Ackee and Saltfish with Fried Dumpling.   Because they are from Jamaica I decided to surprise them with a traditional Jamaican breakfast.   I’m very familiar with Jamaican cuisine so the menu was a breeze.   It had to include their national dish, ackee and saltfish.  I love it, my husband loves it, so it was an absolute must. 

Salted cod fillets are soaked to remove salt, then flaked into tiny pieces and sautéed with various spices, herds and aromatics.  The ackee is added at the last 5 mins to prevent it from overcooking and  becoming mushy.  A simple yet divine dish, it’s easy to see why it is so revered that it became their national dish. Even though we have ackee trees in Guyana we do not use it in our cooking, it’s regarded as an inedible fruit.

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What is Ackee?

Ackee was brought to the Island of Jamaica from West Africa and can be found though out the island.  This fruit is only edible when it’s ripe, it turns red and splits open revealing the flesh.  Before this stage it is considered poisonous and can lead to severe vomiting.   Don’t worry, you can pick up a can of ripe ackee at your local West Indian market.

I planned the rest of the meal around the ackee and saltfish with fried dumplings, so it had to include something starchy to accompany it.  I settled on fried dumplings, roasted and then fried breadfruit(fresh from Jamaica) and a fresh tropical fruit salad. I served a selection of hot and cold beverages; pineapple juice, hot chocolate and a variety of teas.  Needless to say it was all quickly devoured.  Much to their surprise and my delight, each dish was authentic and very well  received, they loved it! Yeah Mon, enjoy!!

Jamaican Recipes to try

Get the Recipe Ackee and Saltfish with Fried Dumplings


  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless bacalao fillets
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, chopped, optional
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3 scallion, chopped
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 12 oz. can of ackee, drained

Fried Dumpling

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp. margarine
  • 3/4 cup water


  • Rinse the bacalao fillets in warm water.  Boil the fillets in water for 10 minutes.  Pour off the water, fill the pot with fresh water and boil for another ten minutes.  This is important step to get rid of some of the salt in the bacalao.  Or you can simply soak the codfish overnight in a bowl of water.
  • Drain the water from the fish and flake with a fork.  Heat oil in pan, then add onions, pepper. 
  • Sauté for about 2-3 minutes on a medium fire, until the onions are soft.  Add tomatoes and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to break down. 
  • Add flaked bacalao cook for an additional 10 mins.  Add  ackee and stir, breaking into smaller pieces. 
  • Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until ackee is warmed and tender, remove from heat.   Sprinkle with scallion.  Serve warm.

Fried Dumpling

  • Combine flours, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Add margarine and rub into flour until it resembles coarse cornmeal Add water to form a soft dough. 
  • Divide dough into 9 even pieces, and form into flattened circles, about 1/2 inch in thickness.  Set aside and allow to sit for 15 mins.
  • In a sauté pan, add canola oil to about  1/2 inch deepness.  On a low fire, heat oil.  Add dumplings, and cook for approximately 6 minutes per side until golden brown.
  • Remove from oil and set on a plate covered with paper towel.   Repeat until all the dumplings have been fried.  Serve warm.


Author: Jehan Powell