Ackee & Saltfish with Green Bananas and Dumplings

Ackee and Saltfish with Green Bananas and Dumplings

I am not an early morning person. That’s an understatement. I detest having to wake up early in the morning. It upsets my peace and troubles my soul. I’ve had a few jobs that required getting up really early in the morning. I mean 4:00 AM and 5:30 AM early, which I consider to be absolutely ungodly hours of the day. I guess I’m very emotional at that time of the morning as more than once I found myself nearly on the verge of tears and downright angry when the alarm went off.

My ideal morning is fairly lazy and starts around 8:00 AM. It’s spent lounging about in pajamas and a robe while sipping a piping hot cup of tea, eating a good breakfast, and watching home improvement or interior design shows. One of my favorite sit-down breakfasts on these mornings is ackee and saltfish, the national dish of Jamaica.

Ackee is native to West Africa but became very popular in Jamaica after it was brought to the island. It’s a fruit with a red exterior and large black seeds. The bright yellow flesh is tender and creamy with a neutral flavor. Harvesting of ackee should be left to the pros as it is poisonous while unripened and requires proper preparation before being ready for cooking. Ackee is generally found canned in America and can be purchased at West Indian markets, supermarkets with a well-stocked West Indian section, and some Publixes and Walmarts.

Ackee and Saltfish with Green Bananas and Dumplings

Ackee & Saltfish

1 lb saltfish
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 small or medium sized onion chopped
1 tbsp ketchup
salt and pepper to taste
1 can of ackee

Place the saltfish in a medium sized saucepan, add enough water to cover the fish by an inch or two along with the vinegar. Cook uncovered over medium heat and when the water begins to boil lower the heat to a simmer and allow the fish to continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the fire and pour off the water. Refill the pot with water, gently swirl the pot a bit, and pour off the water again. Flake the fish into a bowl or plate and set aside.

Chipped Saltfish

Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions until softened. Add the flaked fish to the pan along with the ketchup, black pepper, and salt if necessary then stir to ensure that everything is well mixed. Cover the pan and allow to continue cooking until the fish is almost tender. Add the ackee to the pot and stir gently to avoid breaking up the ackee too much. Cover the pan and cook for a few more minutes until the ackee is warmed through.

Ackee and Saltfish Cooking

Green Bananas & Dumplings

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups flour (1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 stick butter
8 green bananas

Add the salt and sugar to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Taste the liquid; the flavor should be sweet and savory but not overly either. Add more salt and/or sugar if needed.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and butter. Slowly mix in the liquid a few tablespoons at a time while kneading the dough. Stop when the dough is a little bit softer than biscuit dough. Split the dough into 8 pieces and form each piece into a patty shape.

Dumpling Dough

Fill a 6 qt stock pot about 3/4’s full with water.

Remove the skins from the green bananas by cutting off the ends, running your knife along the back and then peeling away the skin. The bananas will begin to brown when exposed to the air so place each banana into the pot as soon as its been peeled. Carefully place the dumplings into the pot, try to avoid having them touch or they might stick to each other while cooking.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Uncover the pot when the water begins to boil. The bananas are done when they are fork tender and the dumplings are done when they are cooked through. If you’re unsure about the dumplings, take one out of the pot and cut it in half. If the middle still looks doughy put the halves back in the pot and by the time their middles cook through, the other dumplings should also be done.

Approximately 5-6 servings

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