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AckeeAckee, Akee, or Achee (Blighia sapida)
. . . also known as vegetable brains

The scientific name comes from Akee's association with Captain William Bligh, of the ill-fated H.M.S. Bounty (‘Mutiny on the Bounty'), who is thought to have carried the fruit from tropical West Africa (possibly Guinea) to the Caribbean Islands, and specifically to Jamaica in 1793. Since then, it has become a major feature of various Caribbean cuisines, and is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical areas around the world.


A member of the Sapindaceae (soapberry family) Ackee, Akee, or Achee (Blighia sapida) is a relative of the litchi (lychee) and the longan. Akee is a tropical evergreen tree that grows about 30 feet tall, with leathery leaves and fragrant white flowers. Its fruit is pear shaped, bright red to yellow-orange, and when ripe splits opens to reveal three large, shiny black seeds, surrounded by soft, creamy or spongy, white to yellow flesh.


The fruit of the Akee is not edible. It is only the fleshy arils around the seeds that are edible. The remainder of the fruit, including the seeds are poisonous. The fruit must only be picked after the fruit has opened naturally, and must be fresh and not overripe. Immature and overripe ackee are also poisonous! The soft, edible arils are delicate in flavor, and taste and look similar to scrambled eggs. Canned ackee is sometimes available, but has been subject to import restrictions due to safety concerns.

Salt Cod and Akee is the national dish of Jamaica. Salt cod is sautéed with ackee, pork fat, onions, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, garnished with crisp bacon and fresh tomatoes.

Chef James EhlerThis article is from Chef James Ehler of Key West, Florida.

James is a webmaster, cook, chef, writer and (like me) a self-confessed computer nerd. He is the former executive chef of Martha's Steak & Seafood Restaurant and the former Reach Hotel (both in Key West), the Hilton Hotel in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the New Bern Golf and Country Club, North Carolina.

He is now webmaster and cook at the Blue Heaven Restaurant in Key West while he works on his Food Encyclopedia (five years so far). It is well worth paying a visit to James' food reference website which is a useful resource well worth Bookmarking - to visit either website just click on their title:

The Food Reference Website
The Blue Heaven Restaurant, Key West, Florida

© James T. Ehler, 2001
All rights reserved