Chantal here, welcome to Amazing Ackee!
My best childhood memories are of climbing trees, trips to the beach, tending to my imaginary affairs – such as teaching the hibiscus hedge multiplication, such a stubborn student it was – and food, always food (real and imaginary). I don’t think I was ever a picky eater and as such trying new foods and coming up with different ways to enjoy the the same ones has always been an adventure to me.
Ackee is Jamaica’s national fruit and Ackee & Saltfish the national dish and a local favourite. Unfortunately, because improperly harvested and prepared ackee is poisonous it has garnered a notorious reputation; so many times the focus is drawn to that one, dare I say minor aspect. I do feel as if ackee has been unfairly treated and demonised much like coconut oil once was (I will do a separate post on the nutritional information). This is why as corny as it seems I chose the descriptor amazing, I want to have a positive association with this incredible fruit and not one that breeds fear, worry or concern.
This brings me the question: what does ackee taste like? It’s a tough one to answer as even some of the best descriptions don’t truly captures the taste. The aril (flesh of the fruit) is firm and oily to the touch softening when cooked; the description that is often given is that it’s similar to scrambled eggs *rolls eyes*. Aside from its appearance in some preparations, the taste is nothing like eggs, and frankly neither is the texture as it tends to be more smooth, melts in your mouth, buttery if you will; the description of ackee being “vegetable marrow” comes close in this sense. In some baking I’ve found it to tend towards having a nutty flavour close to peanut butter, and in custards the sweetness of the fruit shines through taking you to yet another dimension. It’s one of those things you have to taste to understand and I’m hoping that you will and if you already have I hope you’ll find a recipe here that will inspire you to try it in a new way.
Have you ever tried ackee?
What’s your unique way of preparing it?