Ackee Stir Fry

For the past couple of years, whenever I go into the supermarket near my work, I’ve enjoyed looking at the Caribbean section.   There are various sauces, dried salt fish and tins of ackee.  It’s the ackee that has most intrigued me – I just couldn’t imagine what it tasted like.   A vegetable that looked like little yellow brains and that could poison you if you ate it fresh and didn’t cook it well enough.   It even sounded a bit scary.  Now, you may wonder why I have just looked at it for two years and haven’t actually bought any to try until now.   Indeed, it is clearly a sign that I need to be a bit more adventurous.    The push to actually buy the tin only came when this month’s My Kitchen My World went to Jamaica.   Now, I could have made jerk chicken or Jamaican pasties and both those would have been very tasty, but I decided to use the challenge to try the ackee instead.  As I’d never used it before and didn’t know what it tasted like, I decided to turn for inspiration to Levi Roots and Caribbean Food Made Easy.  He describes it as, ‘one of the delicacies of Jamaica and a very special food’ and the way it is used here and the colours are supposed to represent the colours of the Jamaican flag.  Could I get more Jamaican than that?   Well, only if I’d chosen to serve it with salt fish!  Actually, I suspect that this is not the way ackee is usually served in Jamaica, but is just a recipe made up for the book.   I could be wrong, so please correct me if so.

Anyway, what did I think of the ackee?   Well, the texture was very soft, a bit like lumps of soft scrambled egg and the taste was also very delicate.   It took on the flavours of the lime, the soy sauce and the coriander without having much of its own flavour.   Overall, I’d say it’s not a vegetable I could love, but not one I could dislike either,  I’d happily eat it again but whether I liked the dish or not would probably depend on what it was served with and the flavours of the other ingredients.   So, do you eat ackee?   And if so, how is it prepared?

I am sending this to My Kitchen My World and also Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients – Serves 2

280g tin ackee

1 red pepper, sliced

1 spring onion, sliced

Small piece root ginger, sliced into thin batons

1 garlic clove, sliced

1 chilli pepper, sliced

1 tbsp soy sauce

Juice of 1/2 lime

Small handful of peanuts, raw or dry roasted

1 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro)

How to make Ackee Stir Fry

1. Heat a little oil in a wok and add the ginger, garlic, chilli and red pepper.  Stir fry for a couple of minutes.

2.  Add the soy sauce.   Stir then add the drained and rinsed ackee.  Be very careful with the ackee so that it doesn’t fall apart.  Turn the heat down and cover the wok for about 4 minutes so the ackee is heated through.

3. Drizzle with the lime juice, top with the chopped coriander and chopped peanuts.

4. Serve with rice.

CookbookSundays

Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice

Rice, spice and chicken.   In my little flat those are some of the key ingredients to a great dinner and this dish, a bit like a spanish paella but a bit spicier, fits that description perfectly.    I love dishes that can be cooked in just one pot.   Less washing up for a start but also so easy to make.   This dish is one I’d been planning on making since about 2009 when I got Caribbean Food Made Easy by Levi Roots.   As happens all the time, I’d thought it looked good, planned to make it but hadn’t made it immediately and then forgotten all about it until I was flicking through the book again.  I don’t make or eat a lot of Caribbean food but I do like it whenever I have it and always think it’s one of those cuisines I’d like to know more about.    Living in London where it’s possible to get so much Caribbean Food, I really have no excuses.

I loved the flavours in this dish but the chicken was just slightly dry.  In the original recipe, thighs and drumsticks were used and this would mean the meat would stay moister.   The darker bits you can see in the rice are the scrapings from the bottom of the pan.    As the dish is not stirred as it is cooking, a slight crust forms on the bottom, but this is really tasty so scrape it onto the plates.   I also substituted black olives for green ones, just because of what I had in the fridge.

I would like to submit this to Cookbook Sundays, hosted by Melynda at Mom’s Sunday Cafe and also Savoury Sundays at The Sweet Detail.

Ingredients

2 Chicken breasts – but meat on the bone would probably be better

85g basmati rice

1 tsp all purpose seasoning

1 onion, chopped

1/2 red pepper, sliced

1/2 green pepper, sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp ground all spice berries

1/2 tsp turmeric

2cm piece of root ginger

1 red chilli, sliced

300ml chicken stock

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 bay leaves

Handful of black olives

1/2 lime

How to make Puerto Rican Chicken and Rice

1. Rub the all purpose seasoning into the chicken.

2. Heat a little oil in a heavy bottomed pan.   When hot, add the chicken.   Brown on all sides then remove.

3. Add the onions, peppers and garlic to the pan.   When they begin to soften add the turmeric, allspice, ginger and chilli.  Stir

4. After about  a minute add the chicken again.  Put the rice around the sides. Add the stock. Sprinkle with the thyme and add the bay leaves.  Turn the heat right down.   Cover and leave for about 20 minutes.

5. Sprinkle the olives on top. Cover, and leave for another 15 minutes.