Jamaican ackee and saltfish recipe

17 Aug 2017

Chevening Scholars come from 140 countries, bringing local dishes with them to the UK from around the world.

We invited Jamaican scholar Kemesha Kelly, who's studying an MA in Social Policy at the University of York, to cook us a traditional dish that you can make to get into the festival mood for Notting Hill Carnival!

Carnival takes place over the August bank holiday weekend, from 26 to 28 August this year.

Kemesha says: 'Ackee is the official national fruit of Jamaica. Although the fruit is not native to Jamaica, Jamaica is the only place where the fruit is widely eaten.

'Ackee and saltfish is considered the national dish of Jamaica. Typically, Jamaicans at home use the fruit fresh from the tree.

'However, while abroad, most Jamaicans have to rely on the canned version.'

Ackee and saltfish
[Ackee and saltfish served with ripe plantains, fried breadfruit and a slice of avocado.]

Why not try making this at home for your friends or family?


  • Large saucepan
  • Large bowl
  • Cutting board
  • Knives
  • Can-opener
  • Large cooking spoon


  • 1 tin ackee (drained)
  • 1/3 pound/150 grams of saltfish - (salted cod or other) - boneless and skinless
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme 
  • 1 medium tomato, cubed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 scallions/green/spring onions 
  • 1/4 medium sweet bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic

Safety note if using fresh ackee:

Unopened ackee pods are poisonous. Many Rastafarians in Jamaica eat the ripened raw fruit 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.


  1. Put saltfish to soak in cold water for about two hours, changing the water each hour (for better results, you can soak the saltfish overnight in a closed container).
  2. Chop onions, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper, tomato, and sweet pepper. Set aside.
  3. De-bone and flake saltfish.
  4. Heat olive or vegetable oil in the large saucepan.
  5. Sauté onion, garlic, scallion, tomato, scotch bonnet pepper and sweet pepper.
  6. Add flaked saltfish and sauté for one minute.
  7.  Add ackee and black pepper.
  8. Toss lightly, cover, and allow to stand over low heat for about two minutes.
  9. Serve with toast, Jamaican fried dumplings, ripe plantains.