We don’t always give our cuisine enough credit. With an ever-growing number of trendy takeaways, serving food from far flung corners of the globe, many people overlook classic, traditional Northern Irish foods.
And what a shame!
The truth is that Northern Ireland is a culinary powerhouse. We’re a country of artisans, small farmers, and food lovers, with a deep rooted food culture, all of our own. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder.
At Indie Fude, we’re passionate about promoting local produce, from a range of creative makers. We really believe that the fresh and tasty Northern Irish foods on our doorstep are some of the finest in the world.
Here are six of our favourite underappreciated Northern Irish foods.
Northern Irish Seafood
Of course, Ireland is an Island. Because of this, we have access to some of the finest seafood in the world. It’s an understatement to say that most locals don’t appreciate our local seafood.
In fact, one of Northern Ireland’s only foods with protected European status is the Lough Neagh Eel. Eels have been enjoyed by locals since at least the Bronze age, and today they’re exported around the world, but some locals are a little squeamish about eating eel.
Northern Ireland is also home to some of the finest shell fish in the world.
Irish Sea lobsters and langoustines grace the tables of fancy restaurants as far away as China, while Strangford Lough mussels are among some of the finest in Europe.
Sodas Farls, Potato Bread and the Belfast Bap
If there’s one thing we do better than anyone else, it’s bread. Irish soda bread is so famous that it’s almost a cliché, but it means something a little bit different in the North. Down South, what they call soda bread is closer to what we’d call wheaten.
Potato bread is another Northern Irish delicacy which is widely underappreciated. It’s most often relegated to a hangover cure, as part of an Ulster Fry. However, potato bread can also be used to put a traditional twist on modern main courses, like roast belly pork or fish.
The Belfast Bap is a beloved favourite within the city itself, but further afield it is often underlooked. With its unique combination of crispy, burnt exterior, and light interior, the humble Belfast Bap has been the lunch of choice for Belfast locals for centuries.
These days, dulce has a bit of a reputation problem. In fact, many of us think of it as something our granny enjoyed, but not many of the younger generation really appreciate dulce.
However, this is changing quickly.
In fact, dulce has many of the same qualities as trendy superfoods like kale and chard. It’s a quickie and easy way to add a bit of variety to salads, sandwiches and side dishes, or an incredible garnish for seafood dishes.
In recent years noodle dishes like pho have also exploded in popularity in recent years, and edible seaweed like dulce is a great way to maintain authenticity in your cooking, while using local ingredients.
You can also add a little bit of spice to your dulce with our peanut rayu.
Black Pudding, White Pudding and Vegetable Roll
Of course, as an agricultural society, we have a rich selection of meat dishes. Again, many of these are most commonly served as breakfast foods, but there’s so much more to our traditional pork dishes than this.
Like any other traditional blood sausage, black pudding can be used to add richness to a range of dishes. Try it as a side for roast pork dishes, or as a quick and easy way to add umami to stews.
Vegetable roll and white pudding are two of the best Northern Irish foods for comfort eating. For those times when you just need something simple and tasty, try them with toast, chips, or even a few slices of veda bread.
Preserves, Jams and Chutneys Made From Northern Irish Foods
There’s no getting around the fact that Northern Ireland is a cold place. In the days before refrigeration and international shipping, this would have made it difficult to get fresh fruit and vegetables during the winter months.
Like many colder countries, this means that we have a rich tradition of making jams, chutneys and other preserves. These can be enjoyed on their own with crackers, or as a zesty accoutrement to other dishes.
Northern Irish Foods for Your Sweet Tooth
Of course, Northern Ireland is also home to a range of unique sweet treats and deserts. From simple home cooked favourites, to artisanal creations, Northern Ireland has a sweet dish to suit every taste.
We can’t talk about Northern Irish treats without mentioning the humble biscuit. Whether it’s a fancy afternoon tea, or a quiet picnic, there’s nothing quite like decadent Irish shortbread, or fruit-infused soda bread.
But what about desserts for people with less of a sweet tooth? A cheeseboard of course!
There has never been a better time to sample Northern Irish cheeses. From tangy Irish cheddars, to artisan blue cheese, there is a massive variety of quality dairy products being made in Northern Ireland today.
These pair beautifully with local artisan chutneys and crackers, or as part of a delectable charcuterie board.
There are Northern Irish foods to suit every taste and occasion. Our rich culinary heritage is seeing a boom in interest. More artisans and creators than ever are getting in touch with their roots to create truly unique dishes.
To find out more about our favourite Northern Irish foods, why not check out our recipes page, or pop into our store to browse our fine wares.