How to Cook Ackee and Saltfish

Ackee and Saltfish

To prepare the dish, saltfish also known as cod fish is sautéed with boiled ackee, onions, Scotch Bonnet peppers, tomatoes and spices (black pepper, all-purpose and jerk seasoning). It is usually served as breakfast or dinner alongside breadfruit, hard dough bread, dumplings, fried plantain, or boiled green bananas. Ackee and Saltfish can also be eaten with rice and peas or plain white rice.


Serving size 2-4

  • ½-pound salt fish
  • fresh ackee or tinned ackee
  • 1 medium onion, (chopped)
  • 1 small sweet pepper (yellow, red or green), julienned
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon scotch bonnet pepper, chopped finely (omit if you don’t want the dish spicy)
  • 2 stalks escallion, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, cooking oil or coconut oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste (you may choice to omit species such as jerk and all-purpose seasoning depending on your taste)


  1. Wash saltfish to remove as many scales as you can then place in a preheated pan with boiling water.
  2. Boil saltfish until tender (about 20 mins).
  3. Leave the saltfish to cool or place in cold water so it is not hard to handle.
  4. De-bone and flake the saltfish.
  5. Heat oil over medium flame and sauté onion, garlic, escallions, tomatoes, scotch bonnet pepper and sweet pepper until tender, in a frying pan for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add flaked saltfish, fresh or canned ackee and black pepper.

Please note: If you are using fresh ackee, this must be prepared prior to the steps above. Fresh ackee should be cleaned and pre-cooked for about 20 minutes in boiling water. As seen in the picture to the right, the pink flesh should be removed from the fruit (aril) prior to cooking. Absolutely no ackee should be forced open to cook. Once ackee did not open on its own then it is poisonous to consume. Toss lightly; cover and allow to cook over low heat for about 2 minutes.

Note about Ackee:

The fruit is red on the outside, turning bright red when ripe. Seams on the outside mark 3 separate pods of yellow fruit inside. The seams split wide open when the fruit is ready to be picked, exposing the seeds and cream colored, (the spongy flesh around the seeds). Never open a fruit yourself; it has to have opened on its own on the tree, or it will be very poisonous to eat.

Unripe ackee fruit contains a poison called hypoglycin, so preparers must be careful to wait until the fruit’s protective pods turn red and open naturally. Once open, the only edible portion is the yellow arilli, which surround always-toxic black seeds.

Note: It is only unsafe to eat if you do not allow the fruit to open one its own. That is if you pick the closed pod from the tree and force it open you.

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