Ackee and Salt Fish (Jamaica Discoveries Pt.1)April 29th, 2011
Time for some Jamaican breakfast!
Back from a much needed vacation, in a warm climate with a lovely beach and lots and lots of food. Maybe too much food.
We spent nearly a week in Montego Bay, Jamaica. My goal was to have some real Jamaican food, and that’s exactly what I did. Over the next little while, I’ll be showing some of the highlights, including at least one recipe attempt.
Today’s installment begins with Jamaica’s national dish, Ackee and Salt fish. This is a breakfast dish, to the surprise of many of my fellow travellers. We North Americans aren’t really known for having fish at breakfast. It was different, to be sure.
It all started when I ordered Jamaican Breakfast. Having no idea what Jamaicans eat for breakfast, I rather blindly ordered it. There was no way I would pass up the opportunity. Besides, it all sounded great! I’m not one of those vacationers that likes to eat the same food I eat at home, while in another country. That’s just BORING!
The main event in the Jamaican breakfast was the Ackee and Salt Fish. I had looked up Jamaican cuisine earlier, and Wikipedia told me that it was the national dish of Jamaica. I never know if this is true – can you really claim that is is what most Jamaicans eat (and, for breakfast)? How do I know they aren’t all eating a Jamaican version of Cheerios? There was a Jamaican family sitting behind us at breakfast another day, and they made a point of requesting Ackee. That convinced me enough, although I should say that their tone made it sound like it was a special treat. Maybe they eat Ackee the way I eat Eggs Benedict – not daily, but as a reward on the weekend.
Ackee is a fruit that has to be cooked to be eaten. Some folks described it as being like “undercooked egg”, but I’d describe it as having the texture of a fluffier avocado. The flavour was a harder thing to pinpoint, because I never had it alone, but it did seem rather strong. Maybe like a strong avocado.
This breakfast dish is quite heavily seasoned, so everything was peppery and salty. The fish wasn’t a whole filet, but bits that intermingled with the other ingredients. The ackee was in pieces, too, but these were kept a little larger than the fish. As a whole, it was a mix of creamy, peppery, salty, a little bit chewy (from the fish). I loved it. Not everyone agreed with me, and I can understand why – it’s a different combination of flavours and textures than we’re used to.
To round off the meal, there was a plate of fresh fruit (HEAVEN!), boiled green bananas (not at all sweet – starchy and mild), some yam, cabbage and fried corn dumplings. I was crazy for their fried breads. I don’t usually get excited by deep fried things, but they really know how to make fried bready things. Addictive, and dangerous.
So why am I posting this without any recipes??
I just wanted to post something right away, instead of putting it off… My next post in this series will be different, however. I have a plan.
In the meantime, here’s another photo of the same plate of food. (hahaha… I know, I know.)