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I Bet You Haven't Tried This Fruit!

Posted Oct 04 2009 11:13pm
I just inhaled my delicious lunch and as soon as I snapped the picture of it I realized that posting this meal would take a lot more effort than just giving you the title of it and showing you a picture.

Let me explain...

As you're all aware, I'm half Jamaican. I grew up with my non-Jamaican mother but when I went to visit my dad I'd get to taste delicious Jamaican cuisine. I have to admit, I didn't fall in love with it right away... After eating chicken fingers and fries all the time the big flavours of Jamaican cuisine just didn't jive with me.

As my palet matured and I continued to try different dishes I acquired a taste and even a love for Jamaican dishes. My favourite became Jamaica's national dish: Ackee & Saltfish. This dish is something Jamaicans love even more than this dude a.k.a my love Usain Bolt:

Mmm there is nothing hotter than a tall dark and handsome athletic man with legs of steel.

What is Ackee?

Ackee is a fruit native to Africa that is a staple in Jamaican cuisine. Although it is a fruit it is not sweet. Many people compare the look, taste and texture of Ackee to egg. I agree with the fact that ackee looks a lot like scrambled eggs but the taste is completely different. I liken the taste of ackee to an avocado in that there is not much actual flavour and it's fairly creamy. It's also kind of like tofu in the way that it absorbes the flavours it's paired with.

If you searched for an image of the actual fruit before it's picked it looks almost scary. I wouldn't know what to do if it came fresh. I know that the black seeds are toxic and inedible. In Canada, the US and the UK we can only get ackee in a can. It's usually in the ethnic section of your grocery store. I get mine at Sobeys.

What is Saltfish?

Salted Cod. That's all.

I have only made Ackee & Saltish a few times and I still have yet to perfect it. I usually buy it from the West Indian restaurant near my house. It's hard to find good Ackee & Saltfish but they do it well. Greg loves it. He won't go to many West Indian restaurants because he says they're not authentic. Greg was born and raised in Jamaica; he moved here when he was 14 so he knows his food!

In any case I figured I would leave you guys with a recipe so that you can try it for yourself... if you dare. I'm posting a recipe just for an ackee dish so that it can be enjoyed by meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike. Jamaica has a HUGE vegetarian population who also cook their food without salt or sugar.

Allie's Ackee Dish:

Ingredients:
  • 1 Can of Ackees

  • 2 tsp oil (use any kind you like)

  • 1 Small Onion

  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper

  • 1/2 Orange Bell Pepper

  • 2 Roma Tomatoes

  • 1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper (a.k.a. Habanero Pepper... don't use if you don't like spice)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

  • 1 tsp Thyme (I season to taste)

  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (add more or less depending on your love of garlic)

Directions:

  • Thinly slice onion and bell peppers (thin matchsticks... julienne if you dare)
  • Chop Tomatoes in small chunks and set aside

  • Sautee onions, garlic and bell peppers in 2 tsp of oil for approx 5 minutes

  • Drain the brine off the ackees and then pour the ackees into the pan and sautee with the vegetables.

  • Add the entire Scotch Bonnet Pepper. DO NOT CHOP unless you want to die. haha I made that mistake once and the entire dish burned my mouth.

  • Add Salt, Pepper and Thyme

  • Continue cooking until all ingredients have blended. At the very end remove the Scotch Bonnet Pepper

  • Add the chopped tomatoes at the very end as a garnish. (Some people omit the tomatoes altogether but I enjoy them on top)

You can serve it on its own, with boiled or fried plantains, over rice, or with boiled yams, dumpling and green bananas.

My lunch was Ackee & Saltfish served with Boiled Green Bananas, Boiled Dumpling, Yams, 1 Fried Dumpling and 2 peices of Plantain. No I did not eat all of this in one sitting.

Hopefully I've enlightened some of you and you'll find a new fruit to try.


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