Fall 2022,  Interview

Chef Kenroy Kentish’s ackee and saltfish – Jamaica’s favorite and national breakfast

Chef Kenroy Kentish on ackee and saltfish – Jamaica’s favorite national breakfast.

What about this dish makes it a typical Jamaican breakfast?

Ackee and saltfish is the national dish of Jamaica. It is a popular dish in our culture. The versatility and dynamic nature of this dish can be enjoyed for all three meal periods of the day with the addition of various carbohydrates.

I don’t see why it wouldn’t be okay to have this dish for lunch, but I’m curious – can it also be eaten for lunch?

Yes. For breakfast, it is typically prepared with Johnny cakes – fried dumplings in our culture. It is served with boiled dumplings and ground provisions such as boiled yams, sweet potatoes, and boiled bananas and is a popular lunch item and sometimes a breakfast item. And for dinner, it can be served with steamed rice.

Is this a dish one can find in any part of Jamaica, or is it particular to a specific region of the island?

Ackee and saltfish can be found all over Jamaica. When traveling across the country, one can stop to enjoy traditional Jamaican dishes such as ackee and saltfish paired with yam roasted over an open flame.

What are some of your favorite Jamaican breakfast foods?

Some of my favorite Jamaican breakfast foods are Jamaican Porridge, Steamed Callaloo with Boiled Dumplings, Salt Mackerel with Pumpkin, Yam, and Green Banana, and Steam Cabbage with Fried Dumplings and Plantain.

 Have you noticed any new trends in Jamaica’s food culture?

One new trend that I have noticed is the use of red herring as a substitute for saltfish and I must say the salty smoke characteristic of it makes it a pleasurable bite. Some people are reluctant to this idea but once people try it it has its way of growing on you.

If so, how do you feel about the trend?

As a chef, I have to have an open mind to food; this pairing is no different. It is quite enjoyable. we have to keep pushing the envelope while staying true to our Jamaican identity. 

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