The Heart of Ardent

The Heart of Ardent: Jamaican Codfish and Ackee

This will be the last ‘Heart of Ardent’ post for awhile, so we’ll go out with a bang, not a whimper…

Codfish and Ackee is a wonderful flavorful Jamaican dish, and tasty whether it’s prepared with fresh ackee if you’re in Jamaica, or if you’re using the canned variety available in North America in most Caribbean markets.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 lb Codfish (dried, salted Saltfish)
approximately 12 fresh ackees, or 1 tin of canned ackees
1 medium-to-large onion
about 1/2 tsp black pepper or to taste
3 tbsp of *butter
1/2 a hot chili pepper, preferably **Scotch Bonnet
1 sweet pepper (red or orange or green)
1 chopped ***tomato
a sprig of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme

****OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS
2 cloves of garlic
4 scallions / green onions
6 Slices bacon

PREPARATION
Cover the saltfish in cold water in a dish or bowl. Let it soak overnight, or for a minimum of 8 hours, changing the water several times.
I like to keep it in a covered dish of cold water in the sink, so whenever I go to the kitchen for any reason I can just change the water in passing. Doing this removes most of the salt. YOU MUST NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Dried cod is also called ‘saltfish’ as it is heavily salted to preserve it. It would be inedible if most of the salt were not rinsed from it.

Bring a pan of cold water to boiling. Gently simmer the fish for about 20 minutes – or until the fish feels tender.

Chop the onion, sweet pepper, chili pepper and tomato.

Remove the fish from water and allow to cool. If there is any, remove bones and skin then flake the flesh of the fish.

COOKING
Melt butter in a frying pan and stir fry the onion, black pepper, sweet pepper, chili and thyme for roughly 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and flaked fish and stir-fry for about another 10 minutes.
Add the Ackee and cook until hot throughout. Stir gently to keep the Ackee from breaking up.

This dish serves four, and accompanies well with sides such as rice and peas or sweet potato and fried plantain.

Enjoy! Have an Appleton Rum and think of me…

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*If preparing this dish without dairy, it works fine if you replace the butter with olive oil.
**If fresh Scotch Bonnet Pepper is not available to you, it’s handy to have a bottle of purée sauce like Grace or Mr Gouda brands on hand. In place of fresh, a few drops of the purée is likely enough, or to taste. Keep in mind this chili pepper is one of the hottest on the planet and rated hotter than Habañero pepper.
***Regular chopped tomato is fine, however when I have them, I also use tiny grape tomatoes, whole or chopped in two.
****The Jamaican ladies I learned from taught me how to make it WITH the optional ingredients, which I stir fry in the pan together, then drain off the bacon fat. The bacon is set aside until the end, then chopped to top the dish at the end.
Obviously I omit the bacon when preparing the dish for people who don’t eat meat.
 

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