Explore Leiths Diploma Open House – 5th June 2024


Marie Mitchell’s Ackee and Saltfish Tarts


Serves 6

For the pastry:

500g plain flour

1 tbsp ground turmeric

2 tsp Curry Powder

¼ tsp all-purpose seasoning

1 tsp fine sea salt

150g unsalted butter

50g shortening

120ml ice-cold water

2 tsp cider vinegar

1 egg, beaten, or

2 tbsp oat milk

For the filling:

100g saltfish

½ tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

¼ Scotch bonnet, deseeded and finely chopped

3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked

¾ tsp ground black pepper

2 tomatoes, diced

165g drained ackee

Lime wedges (optional), to serve


For the pastry:

  1. Make the pastry. Add your flour, turmeric, curry powder, top spice, salt, butter and shortening to a food processor and pulse slowly to a breadcrumb consistency. Add 4 tablespoons of the cold water along with the vinegar and pulse until a dough starts to form (avoid overworking the dough). A tablespoon at a time, add the remaining water, until your pastry will hold together with a pinch. If you don’t have a processor, combine by hand. Make sure everything is as cold as possible, engage frugally with the dough, and add the water slowly (you may not need it all). Empty the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and form it into a ball – the less you can handle the dough, the better. Wrap it in cling film and then refrigerate until chilled (about 30–40 minutes).

For the tarts:

  1. Rinse your saltfish, then soak it overnight in cold water in the fridge. Discard the soaking water and place it in boiling water to soften. Taste a pinch of the fish to check the salt levels – if it’s still too salty, soak it for another 5 minutes in warm water and check again. Once you’re happy, shred the fish into flakes. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6 and grease and flour six 10cm individual tart tins.
  2. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge. Dust your rolling pin with a little flour and lightly press the ball of dough with the palm of your hand to flatten it. Roll out your pastry to a rough circle about 4mm thick, then, using a 12cm pastry cutter, cut out six circles, re-balling and rolling the pastry trimmings just once, if necessary. Press the pastry circles into your tart tins, trimming the excess. Line each tart case with a piece of scrunched-up baking parchment and baking beans and ‘blind’ bake the cases for 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove the beans and paper and return the cases to the oven for 10 minutes, until crisp and golden. Set aside, but leave the oven on.
  3. Finish the filling. Heat your olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Sweat the onion for 5–7 minutes, until softened, then add your Scotch bonnet, thyme and pepper. Cook for 2–3 minutes, add your tomatoes and flaked saltfish, and cook again for 2–3 minutes. Add your ackee and cook for just 1–2 minutes more (the tomatoes and ackee should hold their shape). Take the pan off the heat and split the mixture equally between the tart cases. Bake the filled tarts for 5 minutes to warm through, then serve with lime wedges for squeezing over, if you like.