Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jamaican Food

I was browsing around the other day and found this recipe for a Jamaican dish called "ackee and saltfish." It is the national dish of Jamaica, and contains peppers, onions, flaked fish, and ackee, a very strange fruit that apparently resembles and tastes like scrambled eggs!

I decided that I had to try it. I went to an ethnic grocery store looking for ackee, but to no avail. The dish is usually made with salted cod, I assume because two hundred years ago the ships would bring cheap dried fish

from Boston in exchange for sugar cane and rum. Now the cod probably comes from Norway. I settled for two large fillets of frozen grey sole. They were beautiful, white fillets that didn't smell fishy at all.

When I got home I marinated the fish in lime juice, salt, pepper, paprike, and a little allspice (what's Jamaican food without allspice?).

I let that sit awhile and sautéed two bell peppers with an onion and some cayenne pepper in butter. I threw in some thyme, salt, and pepper.

Meanwhile, I cooked the fish and flaked it with a fork. Once it was done I tossed in the vegetables, then scrambled five eggs and gently mixed them in.

For the sides, I nuked a sweet potato for a few minutes, then sliced it up and browned it in butter with salt and pepper. We had a can of mangosteens, so we added them on the side.
Our house smelled wonderful! It was a combination of caramelized onions, thanksgiving yams, and a hint of fried eggs.

I have to put in a note about mangosteens: I've only had them canned, but they are supposedly the most delicious fruit in the world. They look like white peeled tangerines. Each little section tastes halfway between a pear and a grape, with brilliantly sweet citrus overtones. At $4 it was easily the most expensive part of the meal, but definitely worth it.

This was a memorable meal, and very cheap. The fish and eggs went wonderfully with the onions and peppers. The sweet and salty yams provided a wonderful foundation, and a bite of mangosteen added a bit of tang at the end. We fed five people for about $10.

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