Ackee is considered a fruit but it is cooked and used as a vegetable. It forms one half of Jamaica's national dish of Ackee and Salt Fish.
Grown and available throughout the year, more abundantly in Jamaica, the fruit is considered to be fully developed, matured, ripe and suitable for consumption when the pods become a bright red and split open to expose the edible fruit. The pod opens to expose three or four cream colored sections of flesh topped with glossy black seeds.
Cleaning and Preparing Ackee
The black seeds are first removed from the flesh along with the red lining on each section. The seeds and lining are discarded. What you are left with is the flesh alone. This is rinsed in tap water and drained well before being cooked.
Ackee cooks up very quickly and it is always easy to know when the ackee is cooked because the flesh goes from cream to a bright yellow. As soon as it turns yellow, the ackee is cooked.
When akee is cooked with salt fish, or anything else, it is always advised that the last ingredient to be added to the pot should be the ackee because of how quickly it cooks and more so because once cooked, the ackee becomes very delicate and crushes and melts easily.
People outside of the Caribbean who may not be familiar with Ackee often remark that it looks like scrambled eggs and indeed it does but it's taste if far from that of scrambled eggs. Ackee is creamy in texture, delicate like eggs but has a finishing taste that is slightly bitter. It is subtle and only detected by a discerning palate.
Ackee production is widespread in Jamaica and it is canned and exported all over the world. To use canned Ackee, be sure the drain it completely and add it lastly to the pot. Once the Ackee has been added to the pot, only toss once, gently, so as not to break up the flesh.