Enjoy Vegan Ackee, this amazing fruit reminds me of scrambled eggs. It is yummy and served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A vegan, gluten-free version of the popular traditional Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish recipe.

 

The popularity of vegan and vegetarian recipes has increased in recent years, with more and more people wanting to cut down on their meat intake. If you are a vegan and when want to get your protein (which is probably all the time), you may think that there are not a lot of options for vegans. That’s where I come in!

I know that eating a vegan diet can be difficult sometimes but it doesn’t have to be like that. Especially if you have a recipe or two up your sleeve!  By finding ways to introduce some foods into your meals you can discover tasty alternatives which are very enjoyable. 

Ackee is a wonderful fruit, but it can be hard to find anywhere. However, it’s not unusual for us vegans to have to go through hell and high water (no disrespect to actual Hell or High Water) to get one of these fruits for our recipes. You’ll be able to make this scrumptiously delicious dish with no problems at all. All you have to do is follow the recipe you see below and as long as you have a bit of cooking ability, you’ll be able to whip up a bowl of Vegan Ackee.

Also, see Vegan Saltfish, Bammy,  and Jamaican Callaloo

Scroll down for the detailed recipe, but I suggest you don’t skip the information included in the blurb.

vegan ackee with yellow yam on a brown plate on grey background

What Is Jamaican Ackee And Saltfish?

Ackee (Blighia Sapida) originated in Africa and was brought on slave ships to the Caribbean in the eighteenth century. It became very popular in Jamaican as a cheap source of protein. Ackee and saltfish is now the national dish and is customarily served with salted fish (cod) that have been soaked overnight to remove its saltiness. It is served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The fruit is ready to eat when the red pod splits open naturally exposing 3-4 creamy yellow flesh topped by 3 shiny black seeds. The pod, the black seeds, and the red inner membranes of the yellow flesh are discarded; leaving only the yellow flesh. The yellow flesh is then rinsed and ready to be boiled.

The History Of Ackee And Saltfish In Jamaica

Both ackee and saltfish are not native to Jamaica, yet they have a strong connection to Jamaica’s history. It is the union of these two cuisines that distinguishes them as distinctly Jamaican and symbolic of Jamaican cuisine. Ackee and saltfish both came to Jamaica in the eighteenth century and were associated with the slave trade.

African Roots

Ackee arrived in the mid-1700s from Ghana, most likely on a slave ship. The name ackee is identical to its Ghanaian Twi equivalent, ankye. The ackee coniferous tree grows here, reaching heights of 50 feet (15.24 meters) and bearing bunches of enormous red pepper-like fruit. When the fruit is fully mature, it breaks apart to reveal three or four cream-colored arilli on top of a bed of enormous, lustrous black seeds. Vegetable Brain is a common name for the arilli because they resemble a brain. This is the part you can eat. Slave traders used it as an inexpensive source of protein for their captives. The slaves preferred the fruit over the meat, so it became a staple of their diet. Today, ackee is enjoyed around the world.

The slave trade brought saltfish to Jamaica at the same time as ackee as an inexpensive protein source that could endure the Atlantic crossing.

In Jamaica’s hot, humid climate, this way of preserving fish is incredibly practical, and it has completely revolutionized the native diet.

Breakfast typically consists of ackee and saltfish. Ackee arilli and saltfish are soaked and sautéed with veggies and spices before being served with yam, plantains, and jonnycakes. 

When done, ackee acquires a bright yellow color and mimics scrambled eggs in appearance (but not taste).

Close up vegan ackee on brown plate

Ackee Fruit Health Benefits

Here are some of the health benefits of ackee, which we’ll discuss in more detail.

Digestion Aid

Ackee’s potentially high fiber content makes it an excellent digestive aid, as dietary fiber aids in bulking up the stool and relieves constipation by stimulating peristaltic action in the colon. This may aid in the movement of food, preventing bloating, constipation, cramping, and even colon inflammation, which can cause colorectal cancer. The fiber in the diet can help decrease cholesterol and improve heart health!

Lowering Blood Pressure

Ackee’s potentially high potassium content acts as a vasodilator, alleviating the pressure on your circulatory system and minimizing your risk of atherosclerosis and hypertension.

May Help Heart Health

Stearic, palmitic, and linoleic acids are among the many healthy fatty acids found in ackee. Unsaturated fats, such as those in these acids, are better for your heart and lower your hazardous levels of cholesterol. Eliminating the most harmful saturated fats in your diet may protect you from atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, and coronary heart disease.

May Increase Protein Power

Protein is an important part of a healthy diet, and obtaining it from an amazing fruit such as ackee is an even better idea! Protein is a necessary nutrient for our bodies since it serves as a building component for our cells, muscles, and other vital organs. Ackee is not always praised for having a lot of protein, but for a fruit, it may have a lot.

May Strengthen Bones

Ackee has a variety of vital minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and Iron, all of which may lead to healthy bones and prevent the occurrence of bone loss and demineralization. Osteoporosis can be slowed, stopped, or reversed with a high mineral intake, allowing us to live stronger and healthier lives for longer.

Immunity Booster

Vitamin C is a vitamin that is found in many fruits and vegetables, and ackee is no different. Ackee has a lot of ascorbic acids, which may help our immune system by encouraging the growth of white blood cells and its antioxidant powers to the prevention of cellular and chronic diseases.  Vitamin C is also an element of collagen that is needed by the body for the formation of muscles, tissues, and blood vessels.

May Regulate Circulation

Anemia indicates that you are deficient in iron. It’s possible that ackee’s high iron content will help you prevent anemia’s adverse symptoms, including weakness, cognitive difficulties, lightheadedness, and stomach discomfort. Iron is an important factor of hemoglobin that is required for RBC production (red blood cells).

Without further delay, here’s our vegan, gluten-free version of the popular traditional Jamaican Ackee and Saltfish recipe.

Vegan Ackee Ingredients

  • Ackee – you can use fresh tree-ripened ackee or canned, drained. 
  • Coconut oil – or avocado oil. 
  • Onion – yellow or white onion, diced
  • Garlic- adds flavor
  • Red bell pepper – adds lovely color, you can use the color of your choice, diced
  • Spring onion or scallion, chopped
  • Thyme – use fresh or dried
  • Tomato – chopped 
  • Scotch Bonnet pepper, or 1 Habanero (for flavor optional)
  • Sea salt, to taste
vegan ackee ingredients on a beige background

How To Cook Ackee Without Saltfish?

Only imported canned ackees are sold in West Indian supermarkets here in the USA, therefore I’ll provide instructions for preparing canned ackee.

I first saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, green onion, thyme, and tomatoes. Open the can ackee and add to the cooked vegetables, be very careful to gently stir ackee because they are very soft and delicate. Stir to coat, adding salt and pepper, and allow to cook until flavors blend.

Vegan ackee reminds me of scrambled eggs when cooked. I have always loved ackee and try to keep a supply handy. Fortunately here in Florida Publix and Walmart carries it.

Ackee reminds me of home and it is strange that even though it is grown in other Caribbean islands, it is not as popular as it is in Jamaica.

I love to prepare it well seasoned and it is delicious served with roasted breadfruit, yellow yams, dumplings, callaloo, plantains. or even these deep-fried  Puff Puff (Deep Fried Dough Balls) {Vegan}.

Other Delicious Jamaican Recipes

Jamaican Lentil Patties

Jamaican Rice And Peas

Vegan Ackee Quiche

Jamaican Ackee Pizza

yellow yam with Jamaican produce, ackee, plantain, green banana, dasheen on a marbled counter

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Does Ackee Taste Like?

The ackee, also termed as achee, akee apple, or akee, is a lychee fruit with a soft, slightly nutty flavor. According to one food blogger, the flavor tastes like garden peas, with “just a tinge of sweetness” and a silky texture “like a fresh bean.”

Is Ackee A Fruit Or A Veg?

Ackee is a fruit-producing plant. The Caribbean, West Africa, Central America, and southern Florida are all home to it.  Jamaicans eat ripe ackee fruit as a mainstay of their diet. Unripe ackee fruit, on the other hand, is extremely poisonous.

What Is Ackee Made Of?

Unripe ackee is a tasty fruit with a thick red covering that forms a pod but opens up to reveal a lovely petal-like shape with 3 or 4 yellow prongs topped with a single black seed as the fruit ripens.

Who Eats Ackee?

It is commonly consumed in Jamaica, where it is a national fruit and is one of the key ingredients in the national cuisine, Ackee and Saltfish.

Is Guarana The Same As Ackee?

Ackee belongs to the Sapindaceae family, which is commonly known as the soapberry. The tropical fruit longan, lychee, and guarana, as well as 2000 other species, are all members of this family.

Is Canned Ackee Already Cooked?

If you can get canned ackee, drain it completely before using it. Although it is already cooked, it is normally preserved in brine. After adding it to whatever you are cooking, stir the dish only once so as not to break up the flesh.

Why Fresh Ackee Is Illegal In Us?

Unripe ackee contains significant levels of a toxin called hypoglycin A. Vomiting, hypoglycemia, coma, weakness, and even death can occur after exposure to this toxin. Hypoglycin A toxin levels drop to “negligible” levels once the fruit is fully ripe. But the rind and the seeds still have a lot of this poison and shouldn’t be eaten. Thus, the FDA has prohibited the export of raw fruit since 1973. However, canned and frozen versions of the fruit are still available.

Cans and frozen ackee are monitored by the FDA. Approved suppliers are added to a Green List of importers who are permitted to transport Frozen and canned ackee to the US.

What Happens If You Eat Unripe Ackee?

Consuming unripe Ackee fruit may cause “Jamaican vomiting sickness,” an inflammatory metabolic condition. Frequent vomiting, hypoglycemia, and impaired mental status are all possible clinical symptoms. Seizures, coma, hypothermia, and death have been documented in severe cases.

How Healthy Is Saltfish?

It’s high in protein and low in fat, but it’s also high in sodium due to the processing. It is estimated that 100 grams (three ounces) of cooked salt fish contains 138 kilocalories, 32.5 grams of protein, 0.9 grams of total fat, and 400 milligrams of sodium.

Does Ackee Make You Gain Weight?

A widespread myth about ackee is that it is rich in cholesterol and harmful fats. This statement is completely incorrect.

Is Ackee Keto-Friendly?

Yes! The ketogenic diet is compatible with Jamaican ackee and saltfish.

If you like and enjoy this recipe, please leave a comment to let me know your feedback… Have fun cooking!

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Categories

Nutrition

(Per portion)
  • Energy: 274 kcal / 1145 kJ
  • Fat: 23 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Carbs: 14 g

Cook Time

  • Preparation: 10 min
  • Cooking: 10 min
  • Ready in: 20 min
  • For: 2 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onions and cook stirring occasionally until soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in garlic and bell pepper and cook for another minute. Add spring onions, thyme and tomatoes and cook stirring for 1 minute.
  3. Add ackee to skillet with salt and Scotch Bonnet pepper stirring gently to coat with seasonings.
  4. Cover skillet and reduce to simmer for 5 minutes. Delicious served with dumplings, callaloo and fried plantains.

Notes

Note: Until the pod of the fresh ackee is opened naturally on the tree, exposing the yellow flesh it is poisonous! Also, the red inner membrane has to be discarded as well. Only the yellow flesh is fit for food. Thankfully purchasing the canned ackee makes sure you are getting ackee that is safe to eat!

I am so excited to start a new facebook group, sharing lots of delicious vegan recipes, health tips etc. from our members, please join us at Vegan Recipes With Love! If you tried this recipe, please comment below and let us know how you like it. Also, please follow us on Instagram!

Vegan Ackee (Gluten-Free)
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.