Ackee and Saltfish With Warm Bakes 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Jul 24, 2018

This dish represents a fairly simple and satisfying taste of home for folks from the Caribbean -- including New Orleans chef Nina Compton, who loves the combination of fruit and fish for breakfast.

"Bakes" is a term used for the rolls of fried dough that often accompany this dish. They are surprisingly easy to do.

You'll need a thermometer for monitoring the temperature of the frying oil.

To read the accompanying story, see: For this ‘Top Chef’ star, one tropical fruit represents both past and present.

Make Ahead: The saltfish needs to be cooked and drained a total of 3 times, which will take a little more than an hour to complete; this can be done in advance. The dough for the bakes needs to rest twice, for a total of 45 minutes.

Where to Buy: Canned ackee, a tropical fruit, is available online via

6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings

  • For the ackee and saltfish
  • 1 pound dried salt cod
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 each red and green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into very thin strips (julienne)
  • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, seeded and minced (if you like it less spicy, use half)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 large tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • One 19-ounce can ackee, rinsed and drained (see headnote)
  • For the bakes
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup water, or as needed
  • 6 to 8 cups canola oil, for frying


For the ackee and saltfish: Place the dried cod in a large saucepan and cover by 2 inches with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes. Drain the fish, return it to saucepan and repeat the process two more times. Transfer the drained cod to a bowl, then use a fork to break it up into large chunks.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic, onion, all the peppers, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, until soft. Add the tomatoes; cook for 3 or 4 minutes, then add the drained cod and scallions; cook for a minute or two to warm through.

Add the ackee, stirring gently so it and the fish remain in large pieces. Cook for 5 minutes to warm it through. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. Turn off the heat; cover to keep warm.

For the bakes: Use a fork to whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Use the fork or your clean fingers hands to rub the butter into flour mixture to form a coarse meal.

Add enough of the water to make a firm dough but not stiff; the dough should be easy to roll. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle, to a thickness of about 1/2-inch. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to create portions (using all the dough) or divide the dough into 3-ounce balls, then press them into little patties. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes in a warm place.

Just before serving, line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat the oil in a pot or small roasting pan (that can handle stovetop cooking) to 325 degrees. Add the bakes without crowding the pan and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Transfer to the baking sheet to drain.

Cut a little pocket in each bake, and fill with the ackee-saltfish mixture. Serve warm.

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Recipe Source

From chef Nina Compton, of Compere Lapin in New Orleans.

Tested by Anne Midgette and Bonnie S. Benwick.

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