There’s more to Welsh cooking than cockles, laverbread, and cawl. In fact, the Welsh can boast a fine culinary heritage, with recipes to whet the appetite of even the most discerning of worldly palates.
March 1st, St. David’s Day, is just around the corner and the people of Wales, wherever they may be, are preparing to celebrate.
Famous for their music, rugby, beer, their ‘‘Hwyl’ (one of those untranslatable words closest in meaning to joie de vivre), as well as some rather more literary accomplishments, they are often less well-known for their truly fine food, both traditional and modern. But, good news travels fast and things, they are a-changing.
Top chefs, worldwide, are at last beginning to sing the virtues of Welsh cuisine and to demonstrate how quality, home-grown ingredients can be used in new and imaginative ways. Local produce such as Welsh Black Beef, succulent Welsh Lamb, river and sea fish, shellfish, game, an abundance of fresh vegetables (including those ubiquitous leeks) and locally produced cheeses that can rival anything sold in French markets. These are the hallmarks of modern Welsh cuisine. So, for a taste of Celtic excellence, try:
Cawl – essentially a simple, all-in, thin stew or country soup made from meat -mutton, lamb or home-cured bacon and vegetables – usually potatoes, leeks and onions and whatever else is in season, fresh herbs, all simmered slowly in a large pot.
Laverbread – (edible seaweed) found along the southwest coast of Wales, particularly around Swansea, often appears as a starter or as part of the traditional Welsh breakfast of cockles, bacon and laverbread. You will often find laverbread mixed with fine oatmeal to form small patties and fried in bacon fat, or as an ingredient in sauces to accompany shellfish dishes.
Crempog – the Welsh equivalent of pancakes or crOpes are made in much the same way as traditional pancakes but use buttermilk, instead. Crempog tend to be thicker than ordinary pancakes and are often served with meat or fish fillings.
Salt Duck – typically served as a pot-roast or accompanied by onion sauce.
Glamorgan Sausages – unlike ordinary sausages that are made from meat, Glamorgan sausages consist mainly of grated cheese, breadcrumbs, herbs and chopped leeks or onions.
Recipes and ingredients vary from region to region; some are quite spicy.
Welsh Faggots – these differ from traditional faggots in that oatmeal is used instead of breadcrumbs. Also, pieces of apple and liver are sometimes added and the faggots may be served with apple sauce.
Cockles – a popular snack among South Walians, fresh cockles with a little vinegar and pepper are a simple tasty snack. Also, cockles often appear on the smartest of restaurant menus, as a starter, cooked in a thin crisp beer batter.
For a modern take on traditional Welsh recipes, look out for the following delicious dishes:
- Spiced Leek And Potato Soup
- Mussels In A Savoury Pastry Case
- Laverbread Cakes With Bacon And Laverbread Sauce
- Trout And Sorrel Terrine
- Leek And Goat’s Cheese Parcels Fish:
- Teifi Fillet of Sewin (Sea Trout) In A Dill Sauce
- Sea Bass With Orange And Basil Butter Sauce
- Sea Bass With Fresh Herbs
- Trout Wrapped In Bacon
- Herrings With Sage And Apple
- Mackerel Baked With Fennel Cheese Dishes:
- Glamorgan Sausages With Plum Chutney
- Spinach And Caerphilly Pasty
- Leek, Smoked Bacon And Caerphilly Cheese Tarts Poultry And Game:
- Salt Duck With Onion Sauce
- Rabbit In Welsh Mustard And Thyme Sauce
- Chicken With Cider And Lovage
- Lemon, Garlic And Honey Chicken
- Pigeon In Spicy Plum Sauce
- Pheasant With Sage And Apples
- Venison Steak With Juniper Berries
- Shoulder Of Lamb With Ginger, Honey And Rosemary
- Lamb And Leek Stir Fry
- Lamb Steak With Rowan And Orange Jelly
- Noisettes Of Lamb With Laverbread And Orange Sauce
- Welsh Beef With Potato And Onion Galette Desserts:
- Blackberry Bread Pudding And Baked Honey Custard
- Welsh Apple Pudding With Frothy Orange Sauce
- Elderflower Champagne Jelly And Sorbet
- Llymru (Flummery)
Served With Fresh Fruit Finally, cheeses to sample include Llanboidy, a farmhouse variety made from Red Poll cows’ milk, Teifi, a nutty, Gouda-style cheese, Ty’n Grug, a farmhouse Cheddar, Y Fenni, a mature Cheddar with Welsh mustard seed and ale, creamy Welsh-style Bries and of course, the famous traditional Caerphilly. And, to cap it all, some rather fine wines are currently emerging from newly planted vines, across the southwest region of Wales.
With the Welsh spreading their wings in all corners of the globe, the secret of Celtic cooking is out. But, the Cymry are a sociable bunch, quite happy to share their culinary accomplishments with food lovers from beyond Offa’s Dyke and further afield – well, at least on St David’s Day!