It’s not scrambled eggs, tofu, nor potatoes – it is Ackee.
Although native to West Africa, Ackee is prominently known in Jamaican cuisine and is in their national dish, Ackee and Saltfish (Cod). Prior to becoming a vegetarian I absolutely loved Ackee and Saltfish. Whenever in Jamaica I made a point to have it for breakfast as much as I could and learned how to make it at home. Despite my Caribbean heritage, this was not a dish made in my home growing up, but Codfish was and prepared several ways. I grew up having it made into fritters simply known as Codfish fritters, as a hot dish known as Codfish Stew, and as a cold dish named Buljol. All equally delicious to me. I loved Codfish so much that when I became pregnant with my twins my first craving was for Codfish fritters and I had my mother make them and overnight them to me….regularly!
Now as a vegetarian and in my quest to prepare interesting dishes I have combined Ackee with vegetables. Eating Ackee with vegetables is not foreign in Jamaica because Rastafarians eat ‘Ital’ which is organic, non-processed food from the earth. This results in vegetarian and vegan meals, which includes Ackee as an ingredient. “Ital is vital” summarizes the Rastafarian belief that pure food from the earth is the most physically and spiritually beneficial.
Ackee is not easily available at standard grocery stores. You may have to find a Caribbean store to purchase a can of it or if you live in a more diverse city you grocery store may have it or even Walmart . Bok Choy is readily available and I love that this vegetable has some crunch to it when you add the stalk. Both provide great nutritional benefits! All the fat in Ackee is unsaturated fat which is a good way to protect the health of your heart, according to MayoClinic.com It also has fiber, Vitamin C, B, and Niacin. Bok Choy is very low in calories and packed with Vitamins C, K, B, Fiber, Calcium and Iron.
Ackee and Bok Choy is delicious! I had it with Rice and Beans, and plantain.
You can also have Ackee for breakfast, lunch and dinner. How about that for versatility?
Feed the wellness in you!
Please find the nearest Caribbean market near you to find all of these items! Please note that if you're not familiar with the scotch bonnet pepper you may want to try half of one initially. It adds a good amount of heat but if you enjoy heat with slight sweetness, this pepper is for you.
- 1 can of Ackee, drained
- 2 bunches of Bok Choy
- 1/2 cup green peppers, sliced
- 1/2 cup red peppers, sliced
- 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 1 tbl minced garlic
- 1 scotch bonnet pepper, chopped
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tbl All purpose seasoning with Adobo (No MSG)
- 3-4 stems fresh thyme
- 1 cup of grape tomatoes, chopped
- Wash the Bok Choy thoroughly, drain and chop.
- In a large pan, saute the green peppers, red peppers, scallions, onion, minced garlic, scotch bonnet pepper for 5 minutes.
- Add the bok choy and saute on low heat for 15 minutes.
- Add the scotch bonnet and onion powder and mix well.
- Add the Ackee, tomato paste, all purpose seasoning and fresh thyme.
- Cook on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add your chopped tomatoes and turn off heat.
- Let it sit for 5-10 minutes then serve.