Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Other than traveling, being born and raised in the Bronx exposed me to cultures other than my own. So it may come as a surprise to people who didn't grow up there, to find out that a lot of people from NYC can cook dishes from many cultures. There's Asian (Japanese and Chinese), Cuban, Puerto Rican, African, Mediterranean, Dominican, Indian, Jamaican...there's so much culture in NYC alone that you don't even have to go anywhere else to get authentic food. One of my favorite breakfast foods is ackee and salt fish with fried dumplings. I remember my cousin and I used to make sure we got up real early to walk to Golden Krust (that was the closet place that served ackee and salt fish), because if we were just one minute late, it would be gone. I learned to make my own once I moved to the south (Lawrenceville, GA) because I couldn't find any anywhere. Until I moved to Stone Mountain, GA. There are Jamaican restaurants everywhere, and what surprised me the most is that there was not one but TWO Golden Krusts, and I happened to move just a 5 minute drive away from one of them.
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What you'll need for the ackee and salt fish
“Make sure you soak your salt fish overnight.”
salt fish (preferably salted cod)
1 can of ackee if you can't get any fresh
1 green bell pepper
1 medium sized onion chopped
1 sprig of thyme
3 garlic cloves chopped
a few pinches of smoked paprika (optional)
scotch bonnet pepper (if you're scared of spicy food, leave it out or use habanero)
1 chopped tomato
drizzle of olive oil
“Did you know that ackee comes from West Africa?”
Directions: Soak your salt fish over night to get rid of the excess salt, or boil the fish then rise with water, and make sure you taste it before adding it to the pan to make sure it's not too salty. Even thought the point it's called ackee and salt fish, you don't want it to cause you to die of thirst. You want a nice salty taste, but not too much. While your salt fish is boiling, rinse and drain the ackee. Did you know that ackee comes from west Africa? It is said to have with enslaved people from Ghana to the Caribbean where ackee now grows. Chop your tomato, onions, garlic, and bell pepper. Toss the onions, scallions, thyme, smoked paprika, garlic and salt fish into a pan with a little bit of oil and sauté until slightly tender. Make sure you're breaking up the salt fish into little chunks. Add the ackee and tomatoes and mixed everything evenly for about 3 minutes. If you're using canned ackee, you don't want it too cook for too long because it can get mushy.
What you'll need for the fried dumplings
(keep in mind that I don't usually measure my ingredients, so they're almost always just a guestimate)
1 cup of all purpose flour
a few pinches of salt
1tsp baking soda
1/4 cup of warm water (you may not need to use it all)
2 cups of vegetable oil
2tbsp of sugar
1tbsp of unsalted butter at room temperature
Directions: Sift your flour, then add sugar, salt and baking soda and whisk it together. Add the butter and mix it into the dry ingredients. Once well incorporated, slowly add your water until you get a nice dough that isn't too sticky, then cover place your dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Heat your oil, and while you oil is heating, kneed your dough and divide it evenly into 6-8 pieces depending on how big or small you want your dumplings to be. Add your dumplings to the oil and let fry for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown, then place them on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
What you'll need for the callaloo
(if you can't find fresh callaloo, canned is available, but you'll have to doctor it up to make it taste the way you want)
1 Medium onion
1 Chopped tomato
2 Garlic cloves chopped
1 Sprig of thyme
Scotch bonnet pepper to taste (optional)
Drizzle of olive oil
Directions: Chop the leaves and stems of the callaloo. Toss onion, tomato, garlic and thyme in a pan with a little oil and sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the callaloo. The callaloo usually creates it's own water, so let it simmer until tender. If necessary, add about an ounce of water. If using canned, rinse and drain first.