I’ve just realised something as I sit here gazing out the window. I’ve lived in Norfolk through all of my secondary education, and recently returned to the area during the past 4 areas. My partner and I love our food, and will try everything weird and wonderful. Something alas that we have so far failed to pass on to our 7 and 3 year old haha. And usually when I visit an area I always try to find some local dish to sample. And it got me thinking that I’ve never tried any proper local dishes from Norfolk.
So do you want to delve into the weird and wonderful world of Norfolk food? Come on then, let’s take a look and see what delicious delights this county is hiding.
Ok this first one I found I just loved the name of it. Someone had a good sense of humour didn’t they! Did you know that the word ‘dumpling’ actually originated in Norfolk in the 17th century? Apparently if they were made well they would float or swim on top of your stew. But if they were too dense and heavy (yes we are just talking about dumplings), they would sink to the bottom. I do happen to recall the one and only time that I’ve made dumplings, they definitely were not light and soufflé like. More like small rocks that sunk to the bottom of your stomach, making you unable to move for a week.
So why would dumplings be so popular in Norfolk? They were actually a part of the staple diet here, cheap to make and filled up your tummy when times were hard. Try the recipe out for yourself and see if yours sink or swim. Let me know! This recipe was published on the Oakden website.
Norfolk Dumplings– ‘Sinkers or Swimmers/ Floaters’
1/2 pound of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Pinch of salt
Sieve the baking powder, flour and salt together in a bowl. Mix all the ingredients together with sufficient water to make light dough.
On a floured surface, knead together and form into round dumpling pieces with your hands (as opposed to your feet).
Heat a pan of water to a rolling boil and drop the dumplings in, cooking for 20 minutes. Or you can simply add them to a boiling stew or casserole, cover and simmer for about 20 mins. Try adding some herbs to the dough for some extra flavour.
This is what they should look like. I have to say that mine didn’t look quite so appetising. But as they say it’s what they taste like that counts!
This next one sounds even more delightful. Don’t worry- no flies were actually harmed in the making of this dish. I can assure you that no flies have been fossilised in amber. I must say that I haven’t actually tried this one, as I’ve never been able to stomach cold egg. Not as a child or even now as an adult. But if you’re brave enough to try this dish, please let me know. This recipe was posted in 2004 by Ray Thompson.
Flies in Amber
A cold savoury from King’s Lynn
1 hardboiled egg
1/4 pint cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Potted fish or meat as required- mmm sounds yummy!
Aspic jelly as required (a dish in which ingredients are set into a gelatin made from a meat stock or consommé).
Mustard and cress or watercress
Remove yolk to a small basin. Pound with a wooden spoon to a cream, with cream to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Measure, and add double the quantity of potted fish or meat. Beat till blended. Rinse out some little moulds or coffee cups in cold water. Half fill them with aspic jelly, dissolved according to instructions, and about to set. Leave until set. Shape the meat mixture into tiny balls the size of green peas. Put half a dozen in each mould. Fill up with aspic jelly. When set, unmould on to a flat dish. Dust the tops with a little chopped egg white, and mustard and cress. Garnish round the base with mustard and cress or watercress. If you’ve ever made this, please feel free to send me a photo of your dish! Here’s a fly we found earlier 🙂
This next recipe by Mike Warner from The Fish Society had me stumped, as I had no idea what a Bloater was. Do you? Thanks to Google, and Mike Warner, I now do. For those of you in the dark, as I was, it is actually a cured whole herring, which are distinct from kippers, which are split smoked herrings. You can now join me in the light. It seems to be quite by chance that the Bloater came to exist, with a temporary salting from a fisherman who later hung them in a chimney. He had no idea at the time that he was onto a winner with this method. The resulting rich flavour ensured its continued popularity and Gt Yarmouth in Norfolk became synonymous with its origins. Apparently this paste can be traced back to the Victorian era.
Bloater Paste (1lb)
Three very-fresh Bloaters (as opposed to very bad bloaters)
Salted softened butter (about 1/2 lb) – good for the waist line.
Fresh ground black pepper (a good grind)
Sea salt (pinch)
Lemon juice (half a Lemon)
Cayenne (a light dusting)
Ensure that the Bloaters are cooked lightly. Gut the fish first, removing the entrails and membranes, but keep any roes to be included in the mixture.
Immerse the fish in boiling water, and then poach gently for about 10 mins.
Leave the fish to cool and then gently flake the flesh off the bone using your fingers. Don’t worry about the finer bones as they will disappear in the making.
Put the fish (and any cooked roes) into a processor and add the butter in cubes. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend together until the desired consistency of a paste is achieved.
Season to taste.
Serve with warm, fresh (preferably home-baked) Granary, Wholemeal or Soda Bread toast.
Now this last one I can tell you I have definitely enjoyed.
Cromer Crab is a must eat, when visiting this fine County. So what makes them so delicious? Well apparently a lot of them are found in the clear shallow waters of the seabed, which are chalky and flinty, as opposed to muddy. The crab filters in these clean waters, which are full of nutrients, and it is this which gives them their unique, sweet taste. There seems to be a lot of meat on them compared to other types, which is a definite bonus. Other crabs are caught on a muddy bottom, and no one wants that!
I have to say I ate mine without any dressing, just fresh, with a bit of brown bread and butter. Delicious!
There are many opinions as to how they should be eaten. Do you eat it with brown or white bread? Do you season it? Do you bake it? Do you scoop it out and put it back in the shell? Do you eat it in a sandwich or roll? Add lime juice to it? Do you eat yours with a glass of crisp white wine? (I did and it was scrummy). Or do you go for a more exotic recipe? There is no right or wrong answer. Please write in with how you eat yours. I’d love to know.