Newfoundland and Labrador cuisine has long roots in our history, as the meal of fish and brewis (pronounced “brews”) has been a traditional favourite since sailors came from Europe in the late 1400 and 1500’s.
Fish and Brewis consists of codfish and hard bread or hard tack. Sailors and fishers would spend months on board schooners and the salt cod and hard bread would last the journey. With the abundance of cod around the outports of Newfoundland and Labrador this meal became a staple at many homes. Our Purity Factories has been producing hard bread for nearly one hundred years!
The basic recipe will have the hard bread broken into bite-size pieces and 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” or 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.
Here is a recipe for four servings:
- 4 cakes Purity hard bread
- 1 lb salt cod
- 6 slices salt pork (3” x ¼ “ thick)
In two separate bowls, 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.
Bring salt fish to a slow boil and let simmer for approx 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Skin, bone and flake fish – set-aside.
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.
In a frying pan, low heat, fry salt pork until all fat is extracted and cook until golden brown. Spoon fat over fish and brewis. Garnish with scrunchions (rendered salt pork).
I enjoy this traditional meal best with a cup of steeped Tetley tea and fresh homemade bread with old-fashioned Crosby molasses. Truly authentic Newfoundland and Labrador cuisine.
Live Rural NL –
Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)
I woke up at 5 AM today, the wind was howling and the weather temperature rang in at -20 degrees. The windchill made it feel like -37 degrees outside. It is on days like these I think of the warmth of the old wood stove, a nice cup of tea and fond memories at the cabin.
Every Christmas we draw family names on my Dad’s side where 7 families exchange presents with one another. This year, my Aunt Linda gave us presents. She gave my mother a lovely print our cousin originally painted of “A Scoff at the Cabin” in February 2008. Depicted below are many of Newfoundland & Labrador‘s favourites, from Purity Hard Bread, Lemon Cream Biscuits served up with some Eversweet Margarine, Purity Jam, Homemade Bread, “Newfie” steak (bologna), a cup of tea with Carnation Milk, a shot of Newfoundland Screech and for dessert some Purity spearmint knobs.
A cup of Tetley tea in the woods simply can not be topped! There must be something about the purity of the water flowing from the brook and then boiled in a cast iron kettle over an open fire. While thinking about the cabin, I was able to enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate from one of the mugs my aunt also gave me for the holidays. A wonderful glimpse of another Newfoundland tradition of Christmas Mumming! I had the pleasure to dress up for the 3rd Annual Mummer’s Walk, spent a night mummering in my home community and attended the Mummer’s Dance in Flower’s Cove dressed up with the gang (a post to follow).
I like many Newfoundlanders & Labradorians enjoy our foodstuffs and traditions that are quintessentially ours. I thank my thoughtful aunt for the presents as she knows how much I love consuming culture.
Live Rural NL –Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA The Straits-White Bay North
- 3rd Annual Mummer`s Walk – December 28th (liveruralnl.com)
- The Jannies were here… (liveruralnl.com)
- Giving the Gift of something Handmade cannot be Beat (liveruralnl.com)
- The Mummer’s, Granny & MHA join Christmas Parades (christophermitchelmore.com)
- 3rd Annual Mummer’s Walk Continues to Break Local Record (liveruralnl.com)
The fish has been soaking the night prior. Whenever a Newfoundlander says “fish” he is referring to cod fish. If he is talking about other types of fish, he will call it by name.
Today for dinner, I was able to enjoy a great meal of Fisherman’s Brewis.
The recipe is simple, yet big on delivery. You need hard tack (Famous Purity Hard Bread). This should be soaked in cold water until soft. We used three cakes for our meal. We had some already filleted cod, so we did not need to be as worried about the bones. One must fry fat port until a little brown.
Cook fish, add the hard bread and mash it all together and served. This meal can be cooked within a short 20 minutes.
This is a treat to the standard brewis on Sunday, when hot dinner is not being served.
There is truly something great about Living Rural and enjoying traditional recipes that have been mainstays of Rural Life for centuries.
Our beloved Purity Factories resounds to all Newfoundlander’s & Labradorians as being quintessentially “home grown”. The Purity brand since 1924 has been served in households and played a big part of growing up in Newfoundland & Labrador. Ask any Newfoundlander & Labradorian about their ever so popular Cream Crackers, Syrups and Candies (Peppermint Nobs, Climax Mixture or Assorted Varieties of Kiss Candies). According to Purity’s website, they make more than 50 products.
Even today, following a dinner out of office, our employer had a package of the famous Peppermint Nobs in his car. It was the perfect after meal treat. Who really needs tick tacks anyway?
The company touts itself as a leader in family tradition across the island for nearly a century. In a recent article about the Mummer’s Walk & Food Drive, I noted the syrups were served as they would be locally when the costumed “Mummers” would come ’round at Christmas. In the Lure of the Labrador Wild, on the Exhibition – Wallace and Hubbard had taken many pounds of hard tack or hard bread – a staple of many Newfoundlander’s & Labradorian’s diet; especially for fish n’ brewis.
This holiday season, there were worries as no Purity Hard Bread could be found at local retailers and other related products. This occurred in part by the company locking out its workers, affecting production. I searched online selling and auction sites, eBay and Kijiji to find a couple of sellers with the product willing to part with a bag at a premium price tag. Tuesday night brought good news! After four months of a lock-out, the union and management reached an agreement, which means our favourite products will be available locally in abundance and other specialty retailers outside of province.
First of all, I love Jam Jams! Secondly, I will never forget visits to my grandmother’s house when I was younger. I would always ask for a glass of the Strawberry Purity Syrup. She would know exactly how to mix it, so that it had an extra special feel for the tastebuds. As well, can not forget disliking the brewis and eggs we had some Sunday dinner‘s when church service was in the morning. Now, I certainly enjoy a heaping serving of the Purity Hard Tack! When I travel to Europe and other destinations, or want to give someone a treat from my home province, I ensure to bring Purity Kiss Candy. They have become popular with my friends. This past fall, two German girls couchsurfed at my house and they really loved the variety of flavour, as well as the classic packaging. These are memories made in part by an iconic company that truly is local, unlike companies such as Tim Horton‘s, Molson and the Hudson Bay Company which started Canadian are now owned by foreign stakeholders.
Buying local supports local jobs, builds a stronger economy and allows our communities to prosper. Next time you consider making a purchase, the savings from a big box store to a small local business may be nominal when you consider all the costs, foregoing customer service and the potential loss of the service in your own community when there is an essential need and the distance to the big box store is beyond reach. Many small towns in Europe survive and thrive on small business, complimenting each others services so they are not competing for same small pool of consumers in the local market.
To close, memories can be made with Purity products, or with other local products. We have a rich culture and tradition, why not build your own brand? Opportunities are around every corner here in Rural Newfoundland & Labrador.
Live Rural NL – Christopher Mitchelmore