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Newfoundland cuisine

  • j
  • joseph wood Oct 1, 2000 11:12 PM

I recently returned from a summer of travels throughout Newfoundland. Being an American, you can imagine my surprise with a good portion of the traditional cuisine: seal flipper pie, cod cheeks, figgy duff, toutons. However, one dish that I completely fell in love with was "fish & brewis". Henceforth, I have two questions. Does anyone have a good suggestion for a restaurant in Newfoundland that serves good fish & brewis? Secondly, does anyone know of a place I can get the recipe? Thanks.

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  1. Joseph--thanks for the really intriguing posting. If you get a chance sometime, please post something longer and more descriptive about what all that stuff tasted like, and how you were served. You're welcome to stretch out at length if you're so inclined. This is something a lot of us would like to hear about...I'd be amazed if many hounds have tried those dishes (I sure haven't).

    I'm fascinated with northern Canadian cuisine right now, and am planning a trip up to Hudson Bay (which I've dreamed of visiting since third grade).

    Oh, I found a Fish and Brewis recipe on a Greek site! Use link below (find lots more recipes by plugging in "fish and brewis" with the quotation marks into www.google.com

    )

    Link: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegea...

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Jim, thanks for the download. I will definitely try it out when time permits. On a side note, it's interesting that the recipe calls for salted pork. When I ate this meal in Newfoundland, they used an item called "scruncheons"--cubes of pork fat. I'm not so sure of the availability this in Arizona (my residence) but I'd like to try to get it as authentic as possible.

      To try to give you more of an explicit description of the cuisine, I'll tell you about my second night in Newfoundland. For years before, I had been become a bit obsessed with Newfoundland culture--food & otherwise--but graduate school and finances got in the way. This summer, I finally made the trek out to province on my own. I landed in St. John's and spent a week there before moving on. Quite by accident, I stumbled into the Hotel Newfoundland (quite an oppulant place) and found they were having a Traditional Newfoundland buffet. Moreover, the way it was contextualized by the hotel clerk (who definitely had some self-interest) was that this food was getting harder and harder to get in Newfoundland, and this may be my only chance to taste it. Of course, this was a bit of an exagiration, but it was *very* difficult for me to find a place that served seal flipper pie in the entire province.

      So, I came later that night and found a rather extensive buffet with the usual Atlantic Maratime Fare--shell fish, shrimp, salmon, etc. However, under the hot plates, I found a variety of traditional dishes: fish & brewis, seal flipper pie, cod cheeks.

      I began with the seal flipper pie because, well, I never even deigned to eat seal before. It was a pie in the traditional sense of light, crusty flake covering. Inside, there were turnips, potatoes, and strands of seal smothered in a rich brown gravy, perhaps a little too rich. I found the meat to be a bit gamey, and sometimes the cartiledge overwhelmed the meat. I suspect this is more due to the nature of the meat as opposed to any preparational missteps. Still, it was definitely worth trying, because in terms of texture and flavor, I never had anything to really compare it to. I don't think I'd recommend trying this if one is solely locked into chicken and beef dinners, however.

      The cod cheeks were battered and, unlike some of my other experiences with cod, the meet was very sweet. I also happened to think the dish was oily, maybe a little too much, I'm not sure. Again, I wouldn't fault the preparation, because I had the opportunity to eat this dish throughout the province, always to the same sort of taste and texture. I'd actually would love to learn to make this dish if I could somehow get ahold of the recipe.

      Finally, I had the fish & brewis, which I absolutely came to love. However, I did not feel affection for the dish right away; it can be a little salty and bland, I think, if it's not prepared right. However, I sort of liked it for dinner, but then, the next morning, I came across it for breakfast. Apparently, one pours molasses over the dish, and the syrup and the salty nature of the fish really complement each other well.

      Otherwise, during my overall travels, it became a bit more difficult to find these dishes outside of St. John's...but not impossible. A good portion of the town's restaurants served deep-fried fish dinners, which were not extactly exciting. However, there was one place that shall have my unending affection: the Beach restaurant, located in Eastport, Newfoundland. Wonderful food!

      So, I hope this was enough of a post. If anyone has further comment or question, I'd love to hear some responses.

      1. re: Joseph Wood

        You may be interested in my Yaffles site. It has Newfoundland recipes, as well as information about NF culture and history.


        There is a form for comments.

        Link: http://www.yaffles.com

        1. re: Joseph Wood

          Joseph,
          Where is the beach restaurant exactly? Is there a website? I am heading to St. John's at the end of June, and I am looking for some memorable restaurants to visit.
          -LAM

      2. FISHERMANS BREWIS

        2 1/2 to 3 pounds Salt fish

        5 to 6 cakes hard bread

        3/4 pound Fat back pork

        Cut fish in pieces and soak overnight in cold water. Split cakes of hard bread, soak overnight in cold water. In the morning change water in fish and bring to a boil for 20 minutes or until tender.

        Remove from heat and drain. Remove skin and bones. Bring hard bread to a boil in same water which it has been soaked. Remove from heat and drain immediately.

        Mix fish and hard bread together. Cut four slices fat back pork in cubes. Put in pan over medium heat and cook until fat is rendered from pork, leaving scrunchions to a golden brown. Pour over the fish and brewis like a gravy, mix altogether thoroughly.

        Makes a delicious breakfast.

        'Hard bread' -- also known as 'hard tack', 'sea' or 'ship's biscuit', 'hard cake' and, when sweetened, 'sweet bread'. Hard bread is the 'brewis' in the fish and brewis dish.

        1. As a Newfoundlander, now living "away", I was intrigued by your post. If you have trouble finding the necessary hard bread needed for fish and brewis. try www.purity.nf.ca

          5 Replies
          1. re: LJS

            Hi all. Im a newfie who Lives in las vegas Nevada. Ive been searching for a place where I can Buy salt meat. Does anyone know where I could find such a thing? I miss it too death. Thank you

            1. re: stephanie20

              Lots of good stuff on NL here:

              http://www.downhomelife.com/

              Go there often and cannot enough of that unique place..........so friendly and welcoming. If you take the ferry to Port aux Basques, make time to venture down the dead end RTE. 470 to Rose Blanche and see the historic lighthouse that has been recently been restored and be sure to seek out "The Friendly Fisherman Cafe" for some fabulous home cooking and fish dishes. (709-956-2022

              )

              http://roseblanchelighthouse.ca/

              If you stay at the Port aux Basques Hotel, the restaurant serves excellent food, try the fishcakes for breakfast.

              More on NL food here:http://discuss.50plus.com/ipb/index.p...

              1. re: NewtonSquare

                Just be carefull if the BakeApples are in season.. we got in trouble for picking them while hiking the trail out to the lighthouse . LOL

                I have had a pretty good introduction to newfie food since meeting my wife.. both her parents are newfies and I have had an opportunity to try alot of that food . I must say the best meal i had while visiting Newfoundland was on a boat tour out of Francois on the southwest coast. The owner of the charter picked up the halibut from a local fisherman that morning . great lunch with homemade mustard pickles and beets with a salad

                1. re: Ashen

                  just a note: not all Newfoundlanders take kindly to being called "Newfie"...particularly if you're not from the island and are saying this to someone from there...I make the point not necessarily for you Ashen, but a note in general, as it is considered a derogatory term by many people. (Google Argentia, derogatory & Newfie for a bit of reading on the subject).

                  We all seem to have a pretty good sense of humour, and most of us have NO problem laughing at ourselves...but it does depend on who this term is coming from, and how it is said. Something for anyone to keep in mind when travelling on the island.

                  That being said, bring on the good food !!! Bakeapples ROCK ! My favorite cheesecake is one with a bakeapple topping.

                  p.s. lucky you Ashen, for getting to try the boat tour on the southwest coast ! I've never gotten there myself, and alot of this is not accessible by car !

            2. re: LJS

              Since I like pilot bread, I was curious about Purity hardbread. So I ordered a couple of bags from a Canadian camping store. Shipping nearly doubled the price. In contrast to pilot bread, hard bread is not edible in its dry state (at least not if you value your teath). It reminds me of mishapend hockey pucks made from flour.

              Broken up, soaked, and cooked a bit in hot water, it produces something a bit like lumpy mashed potatoes.

              http://www.purity.nf.ca/recipe.html
              I wonder how it tastes with Spam?

              paulj

            3. Joseph, I'm surprised you never tried fish cakes or Jig's Dinner.Sounds like you've had quite an experience. Nfld food is quite tasty, but I hardly call it cuisine, more home cooked comfort food that sticks to your ribs.

              1. If you're looking for truly, truly authentic Newfoundland recipes, the book you want is the Cream of the West Flour Treasury of Newfoundland Dishes. It was first printed in 1959, and has gone through many reprintings. The recipes were submitted by women all over the island, and they are a real window on the cuisine of Newfoundland, and its English and Irish origins. Brewis, flipper, etc are all in there, made the way they're supposed to be made. I believe the book is not out of print, but you may get one ebay, Alibris, etc. Good luck!!! Even though I no longer live in Newfoundland, I refer to my tattered old copy all the time. And you cannot beat the bread and pastry recipes.

                Shep