Levi Roots' ackee and saltfish recipe

(48 ratings)

  • healthy
  • Low-fat
Preparation Time30 mins
Cooking Time40 mins

Levi Roots shares his recipe for Jamaica's national dish, ackee and saltfish.

Ackee is a soft canned fruit, which originated from Africa and is also very popular in many Caribbean dish. Despite being a fruit, ackee is cooked like a vegetable and has a slightly nutty flavour.

Although it's quite bland on it's own, ackee, 'comes alive' in this dish, according to chef Levi Roots, as it absorbs so many of the spices and other flavours - including ginger, garlic, thyme, onion and Scotch bonnet. This is a very delicate ingredient, which looks a bit like scrambled egg, so it's important to be gentle with it when cooking.

You'll find packets of salted fish in most supermarkets, usually in the 'World Food' aisle rather than the fish counter. Levi's favourite is salted cod and he recommends cooking it twice to thoroughly remove all of the excess salt. This is the perfect dish to be served as a small starter or a light lunch, alongside a slice of fresh watermelon.


  • 240g tinned ackee
  • 200g saltfish (cod is Levi's favourite)
  • 200g white onion cut into fine strips
  • 200g tomatoes cut into strips
  • 8g Scotch bonnet - deseeded and very finely chopped
  • 10g spring onion finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs of thyme - leaves only, finely chopped
  • 20g garlic finely chopped
  • 20g ginger finely chopped
  • 50ml coconut oil
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to taste




  1. Boil the saltfish in water for 10 minutes then drain.
  2. Repeat the process with fresh water to finish cooking the fish, ensuring most of the salt has been removed.
  3. Heat the oil and over a low heat and sauté the onion, tomato, garlic, ginger, Scotch bonnet and thyme until the onions are soft and translucent.
  4. Flake the fish and add to the pan.
  5. Stir gently until the fish is warmed through.
  6. Add the ackee to the pan and stir in gently, taking care not to break it up too much.
  7. Season with salt (only if needed) and cracked black pepper to taste.
  8. Serve immediately, with traditional dumplings, roti or water melon wedges.
Levi Roots
Celebrity chef and entrepreneur

Levi Roots is a Jamaican-born chef and the inventor of the famous homemade BBQ sauce 'Reggae Reggae Sauce' seen in your local supermarket. Levi began his food journey in a tiny little village called Clarendon in Jamaica with his grandmother. He enjoyed helping her in the kitchen and believes she taught him the secrets of how to perfectly mix Caribbean flavours, herbs and spices all together as well as discovering his love for music when attending his grandmothers church. With his parents working in the Brixton, so they could bring their six children over to the UK, Levi finally was the last to move to London in 1970. By 1991, Levi had seven children and lived in Brixton, where he created his famous sauce and decided to create a stall called the 'Rasta'raunt' at Notting Hill Carnival, which combined Jamaican music and the food he was cooking together using his delicious Reggae Reggae sauce. After years of trying to launch the product, Levi was spotted by a researcher from the BBC and was asked to appear on Dragon's Den. Despite trepidation, the sauce was an instant hit to dragons and Levi gave 40% of his business to Dragons Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh for £50,000 investment. By 2007, the sauce had hit the shelves across the country and it is now an essential item in many peoples cupboards. It truly is one of a kind and can be used in many different ways from marinading your chicken with it, to splashing it on top of a delicious rice dish, we've got some of our favourite recipes from the man himself for you to try.