Northern Irish cuisine
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Northern Irish cuisine encompasses the cooking styles, traditions and recipes associated with Northern Ireland. It has distinctive attributes of its own, but has also drawn heavily from British cuisine and that of the Republic of Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s culinary heritage has its roots in the staple diet of generations of farming families; bread and potatoes. Historically, limited availability of ingredients and low levels of immigration resulted in restricted variety and relative isolation from wider international culinary influences. Recent decades, however, have seen significant improvements in the standard of local cuisine, characterised by an increase in the variety, quantity and quality of gastropubs and restaurants. There are currently two Michelin star restaurants in Northern Ireland, both of which specialise in traditional dishes made using local ingredients. Northern Irish cuisine received international attention in March 2018 when it was reported that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had Irish stew and sausage with champ for lunch at the Crown Liquor Saloon, during a tour of Belfast.
Dishes and foods
Ardglass potted herring
Soda bread is one of Northern Ireland’s griddle breads, it can be eaten straightaway, or cooked until golden in an Ulster fry. They are sometimes eaten with butter and homemade jam, or with savoury food such as smoked salmon, fresh fried eel, or thick dry-cured bacon.
Wheaten bread is a brown bread made with whole wheat flour which also uses baking soda as a rising agent. It is usually sweetened in contrast to the savoury white soda bread.
A soft tray bake cake which gets its name from using Fifteen of each main ingredient (marshmallows, digestive biscuits, cherries).
Boxty is mainly found in County Fermanagh, Boxty is a weighty, starchy potato cake made with 50:50 mix of cooked mashed potatoes and grated, strained, raw potato. The most common variety is boiled boxty, also known as hurley, a large round loaf which is boiled whole for several hours, allowed to rest and then sliced and fried, often with bacon.
Pasties are made from a mixture of sausage meat, onions, and mashed potato, shaped like a burger and spiced with black pepper. They can be ordered battered from most chip shops.
The best known traditional dish in Northern Ireland is the Ulster fry. An Ulster fry, although not originally particularly associated with breakfast time, has in recent decades been marketed as Northern Ireland’s version of a cooked breakfast. It is distinguishable from a full breakfast by its griddle breads – soda bread and potato bread, fried (or occasionally grilled) until crisp and golden. Sometimes also including small pancakes. Bacon, sausages, an egg, and (as a modern development) tomato and sometimes mushrooms complete the dish It is usually served with tea and toast.
At breakfast people of Northern Ireland are also partial to porridge, made with rolled oats, milk or water and a pinch of salt or sugar. For extra luxury, in the weekend, it can be dressed with cream rather than milk, and brown sugar. Some even add a dash of Bushmills whiskey.
Yellowman is a crunchy golden confectionery and looks a bit like honeycomb. It is mainly sold at fairs and markets.
Another uniquely Northern Irish speciality is vegetable roll – slices of peppery minced beef, flavoured with fresh leek, carrot and onion.
Notable Northern Ireland chefs
- “Downtown Radio website”. Downtown Radio. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- “Michelin-rated restaurants”. discovernorthernireland.com. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Northern Ireland”. The Irish News. 23 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- “Traditional Dishes”. Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Retrieved 9 October 2014.