Traditional Newfoundland Cuisine
This was certainly a treat growing up on the West Coast of Newfoundland back in the day. Living on the French side of the Island, Cape St. George, Port au Port, we normally referred to these succulent morsels as “Bigorneaux” the French word for periwinkles. We would boil them in sea water over an open fire on the beach. The recipe below is as original as it gets.
Makes 4 servings
- 4 cups water (or sea water)
- ½ cup sea salt
- 4 lbs periwinkles
Clean and rinse periwinkles in cold water (removing any sand or debris from shells). Bring water and salt to a boil (ensure salt is totally dissolved, if not using salt water). Add periwinkles and cook for 10-15 minutes and drain. Using a darn needle or tooth pick remove hard cap or door from shells.
Note: if using sea water, omit salt
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