Vegan Jamaican Ackee & Dumplings
Ackee is Jamaica’s national fruit, traditionally it is served with salted cod as a part of Jamaica’s national dish, ackee and salt fish. I grew up eating this with fish, but to my surprise it is still very good without it, so this dish took little effort to veganize. This can be eaten at all times of the day, but it always feels the best to me when eaten for brunch. Ackee is savory in flavor and has a delicate texture, sort of like how avocado is a savory fruit, but ackee has its own unique flavor. It is very difficult to describe the taste of ackee, because I do not think that there is anything else out there quite like it. I have prepared this simple dish for a lot of Americans now and it has been nothing but rave reviews.
Honestly, the hardest part of preparing this dish will be finding the can of ackee. Depending on where you live it can be hard to find. If you’re within 100 miles of a city, you’re more likely to find it in grocery stores or small markets. Where I live I can find it in the ethnic section of ShopRite or Giant sometimes, depending on their location. If you can’t find it anywhere, then just order it (click here)! Do not be too scared off by the price, it prepares 4-6 servings and at $8.50/can it is still way cheaper than eating out… and well worth the flavor!
1/2 Tbsp oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
1 medium tomato, chopped
4 cloves garlic , minced
3 sprig fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp powdered thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
19 oz can Jamaican ackee, drained - This brand is usually the most affordable
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper, or 1/2 habanero - This will add a LOT of heat, only for heat lovers.
2 spring onion, chopped
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
About 3/4 cup water
To prepare ackee:
Preheat large skillet over low/medium-low heat and add oil. Allow oil to come up to temperature.
Add onions, bell peppers, and scotch bonnet or habanero pepper if adding. Cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 3 minutes.
Stir in garlic, tomato, thyme, salt, black pepper and cook for another minute.
Add ackee and spring onion to skillet and stir gently to coat with seasonings.
Increase heat to medium and let water from ackee cook down for about 5-10 minutes.
Remove from heat and cover, allow to sit like this for 10 minutes to allow the flavor to develop before serving.
To make dumplings:
Fill a medium-sized stockpot with water and bring to a boil.
Add flour and salt to a large mixing bowl and stir.
Add water, and stir with a large spoon until flour begins to clump into large balls.
Begin to knead, adding more water as needed until you have a ball of dough.
Watch the first minute of this video below to see how to shape the dumplings, then place in pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Stir when you first add them to the pot to prevent sticking, when the dumplings begin to float that is the sign that they are ready.
Note - When you begin to feel more comfortable with this recipe. Make the dumpling dough first, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to sit until you are finished the last steps of the ackee, then form the dumplings and boil. This mini rest period allows the dough to become more elastic and results in softer dumplings.
To prepare greens (Optional):
It’s many of the same ingredients that you used to make the ackee. Follow the same procedure that you used to sauté these ingredients, then add spinach and sauté until it cooks down.
1/2 Tbsp oil
1 cup onion sliced
1 cup green or red bell pepper
1/2 tomato sliced
2 spring onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Container of chopped spinach
Also, this dish goes very well with pan fried plantains!