A Caribbean Brunch Favorite: Ackee and Saltfish

NEW YORK, NY - Getting an invitation to attend a Caribbean breakfast or brunch is the invitation to a special experience!

ackeesCaribbean breakfast foods are very special because they are meals that are also served at lunch and dinner.

They are large meals that contain all the major food groups complimented with fresh herbs and spices and medley of several tropical fruits. To ask a Caribbean national in the region or in the Diaspora what is their favorite breakfast or brunch dish is to get a list of starches, fish, meats, vegetables, beverages and fruits.

The responses no doubt will vary from island to island.

While I have only sampled breakfast dishes from Jamaica, Haiti, Antigua, Guyana and Grenada, given the variety of breakfast meals that are prepared in Jamaica, I would venture to say that Jamaica serves more breakfast meals than anywhere else in the world.

Some examples of breakfast meals that are prepared in Jamaica are as follows:

Ackee and saltfish and Johnny cakes and fried plantains.

Calaloo and saltfish with roasted breadfruit or boiled green bananas.

Cabbage and saltfish with harddough bread and butter or Johnny cakes.

Steamed fish with boiled green bananas.

Beef liver with boiled green bananas.

Beef kidney or beef heart or light with boiled green bananas.

Bak Choy with saltfish and roasted breadfruit, or boiled green bananas.

Sardines with onions omelets.

Fried, scrambled or boiled eggs.

Cornmeal, oat, plantain or banana porridge.

Fried sprat with harddough bread and butter.

Escovitch fish with fried Bammy.

Salted mackerel or shad or herring with boiled green bananas.

Saltfish onions and tomatoes and Johnny cakes.

Okra with saltfish and boiled eggs and harddough bread and butter.

In general, however, saltfish or bacalao and bakes or Johnny cakes is a staple  breakfast meal in the Caribbean. Porridges are also popular and so are hot cocoa beverages and herbal teas.

My favorite Caribbean breakfast menu is a Caribbean fruit salad, cornmeal porridge and Jamaica’s national dish – Ackee and Saltfish -served with Johnny cakes and fried plantains, toast with guava jelly and Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee.

Today, I will share with the recipe for Jamaica’s Ackee and Salt Fish which was voted as the “second-favorite on a top-ten list compilation of national dishes by National Geographic in their book, ‘Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places To Eat Around The Globe.’

Ackee and Saltfish Recipe


1 pound boneless saltfish

1/2 cup coconut oil

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 sprig fresh thyme

2 large onions, sliced

2 large tomatoes

4 scallions, chopped

1 cup sliced red bell peppers

1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper,

Two cans Ackee, drained

3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoon Butter


1. Reduce the salt in the fish by sitting in cold water overnight.

2:  Drain water and cook until tender.

3: Flake in small pieces and put to the side.

4: Drain canned Ackee in a colander and set aside

5: Sauté chopped onion, red bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic and scotch bonnet pepper in hot coconut oil until onion is transparent. Do not burn ingredients!

6: Add flaked saltfish and black pepper to saucepan.

7: Gently fold in Ackee and sprinkle with remaining pepper.

8: Add butter scallion and thyme.

9: Simmer on low heat for five to 10 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8.

*Minna LaFortune is a trained Caribbean caterer and also president, Society for the Advancement of the Caribbean Diaspora (SACD).