Fish & Brewis was originally developed by sailors that were often at sea for weeks and even months where few fresh ingredients were able to withstand such lengthy trips. Therefore long lasting foods were a necessity and fish and brewis became the crew’s favorite. The idea that sailors called the hardtack or sea biscuit brewis (pronounced ‘brews’) because of their practice of bruising or breaking up the bread into bite size pieces is likely part of a contemporary legend, and it has been argued more convincingly that the word “brewis” dates back to Middle English.
Fish and Brewis (pronounced “brews”) is a traditional Newfoundland meal consisting of codfish and hard bread or hard tack. With the abundance of cod around the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador it became synonymous with many Newfoundland households as a delicacy to be served as a main meal.
The recipe may vary from community to community or even household to household but, the ingredients are always the same. The typical recipe calls for salt fish that has to be soaked in water overnight to reduce the salt content of the fish. The hard bread is broken into bite-size pieces and it too is soaked in water overnight. Next day the fish and hard bread are boiled separately until tender then both are served together.
The traditional meal is served with scrunchions, salted pork fat which has been cut into small pieces and fried. Both the rendered fat and the liquid fat are then drizzled over the fish and hard bread.
Fisherman’s brewis is the same as fish and brewis, but the fish and bread are chopped while hot and mixed together with the scrunchions, and often fresh cod is used instead of salt cod.
Drawn Butter is sometimes used instead of scrunchions. Drawn butter in this instance is a mixture of melted butter and chopped onions that is thickened by flour in a saucepan then served hot over the fish and hard bread. (Wikipedia)
- 4 cakes hard bread (broken in pieces)
- 1 lb salt cod (pieces or boned)
- 6 slices salt pork (3”L x ¼ “ thick)
- 1 med onion, chopped
In two separate containers, soak salt fish and hard bread in cold water for approx 6-8 hours or overnight. In the morning drain and replace both with cold water.
For the fish; bring to a slow boil and let simmer for approx 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Skin, bone and flake fish – set-aside.
For the hard bread; in a saucepan, place hard bread and cover with enough water. Bring to a slow boil and simmer for approx 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Squeeze out excess water from the hard bread and mix in flaked fish. Blend well.
In a skillet, low heat, fry salt pork until all fat is extracted. Remove rendered pork. Add onions and cook until golden brown. Spoon fat and onions over fish and brewis. Garnish with scrunchions (rendered salt pork). This meal is excellent with a cup of good steeped tea and fresh homemade bread with molasses. Some Shockin’ Good, tell your mother…..
- Drawn butter (see Sauces) can be used instead of scrunchions and onions
- Onion gives a more favorable taste to pork fat
tuckered out – tired
Saltjunk.com is a website dedicated to Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans at home and abroad, and to other folks who simply enjoy NL culture, cuisine and its traditions. With completion of a Culinary Management program at Liaison College, Oakville, Ont, a Certificate in Baking at George Brown College, Toronto, Ont and a course in Food Photography; my purpose is to add new NL recipes to the existing culinary library and revisit some of the older ones and fine-tune them using today’s techniques (if possible). Also, I want to preserve some of the older and forgotten recipes that have been lost with time.
Re-discover Newfoundland and Labrador Cuisine, bring out the old recipes that your grandma and mom had written down on old scribblers or cook up recipes that were passed down from generation to generation. Relive again the taste. Experience the flavours and aromas that were once an everyday occurrence in our childhood. Can you smell the aroma of old fashion bread baking with a roaster full of hot baked beans in the oven?
Come taste times gone by and traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador. There’s a centuries-old tradition of ingenuity, imagination and inspiration in every morsel. Consider the true blend of Aboriginal, English, French, German, Irish, Portuguese, Scottish and Spanish ancestry in our very unique cuisine.
Savour and experience recipes from times past, such as; Fish & Brewis, Fried Cod Tongues, Cod Fish Stew, Fish Cakes, Toutons, Salt Junk Dinner, Pease Pudding, pea Soup, Dumplings, Cabbage Soup, Colcannon, Flipper Pie, Pan Fried brook Trout, Turr, Baked Salt Water Duck, John Bull Stew, Drawn Butter, Kedgaree, Wild Hare (Rabbit) Stew and Pie, Old Fashioned Bake Beans, Figgy Duff, Pork Bang Belly, Beaslin Cake, Lobsouse, Bake Cod Row, just to name a few.
Just maybe, we can bring back “the good ole times” our grandparents and parents once shared at the kitchen parties, card games, mummering and telling yarns, while we cook up a good scoff with our friends.
If you have any old family recipes pass down or new ones you want to share with the world, please send them to me. If you like, forward a photo of the dish and your recipe, I will post it.
This Lemon Squares recipe is from 1968 and uses crushed soda crackers for its crust. Very easy to make and absolutely delicious. The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, however, I thought it was extremely sweet so I cut it down to 1/4 cup. Although the original recipe just stated coconut, I used unsweetened. Also, I used margarine instead of butter. Try it and let me know how it turns out…..
Preheat oven to 350°F
- 1 pk (7½ oz) sheriff lemon pie filling
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¾ cup butter or margarine, room temperature
- ¾ cup unsalted soda crackers, finely crushed
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1½ cups unsweetened flaked coconut
Prepare lemon pie filling as per package directions. Remove from heat and cool.
In a bowl, sift flour and baking powder. Rub in butter or margarine until crumbs are formed. Add crushed soda crackers, sugar and coconut. Mix until well blended. Spread half of crumb mixture into a well-greased or parchment lined 9 inch square pan. Press mixture evenly to form a crust. Spread lemon filling evenly over crust and sprinkle remainder of crumb mixture over lemon filling. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on rack prior to cutting into squares