Growing up in St. Lucia, chef Nina Compton spent many happy hours in the kitchen cooking with her grandmother. One of their favourite recipes to make is this classic Jamaican dish featuring dried salt cod, ackee fruit and “bakes”, delicious fried dough cakes that are popular throughout the Caribbean.

Nina Compton’s Ackee And Saltfish With Warm Bakes

Serves 6-8

Ingredients For The Bakes:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
A pinch of salt
About 1 cup water*

Method For The Bakes:

1. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a bowl. With a fork, or using your hand (quick method), rub butter into flour mixture. Add water to make a firm dough, but not stiff.  Dough should be easy to roll.

2. Let dough sit, covered for at least half an hour. Roll dough to about 1/2 inch in thickness and cut with a biscuit cutter or roll into 3 oz balls and press into little patties, cover and let rest for 15 minutes in a warm place. Instructions continue below.

Ingredients For The Cod:

1 lb. dried salt cod
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, julienned
2 tomato, cored and chopped
1 each red and green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and julienned
1⁄2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chili, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 (19-oz.) can of ackee, rinsed and drained
½ habanero, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method For The Cod:

1. Place cod in a 2-qt. saucepan, and cover by 2 inches with cold water; bring to a boil over high heat, and cook for 20 minutes. Drain cod, return to saucepan, and repeat process twice more. Transfer cod to a bowl, and flake with a fork into large chunks; set aside.

2. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic, onion, tomato, peppers and chili, and sauté on medium heat, stirring until soft, about 8 minutes. Add reserved cod, scallions and ackee, and cook – stirring gently to keep cod and ackee in large pieces – until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. In a large sauté pan, fill with oil and heat to about 325F, add the bakes (dough patties) – not crowding the pan – and fry until golden brown on both sides. Cut a little pocket and fill with the finished ackee and saltfish. Serve.

[Photo of dish: Kent MacElwee/Flickr]

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