Three Delicious Recipes from East Anglia’s Rich Culinary Past
In these days when we can buy virtually any food at any time of year – strawberries in January, anyone? – and when regional specialities seem to be falling by the wayside in favour of more and more standardised tastes and preferences isn’t it time we made more of a stand for our regional specialities?
Every area has them and East Anglia has a particularly rich heritage that has always exploited the riches of the land and sea. Yes, the region may be famous for its mustard from Norwich and dressed crabs from Cromer but there is also a great deal more to East Anglian cuisine. Sure, the Friday night pizza takeaway is a bit of a tradition, but a home-cooked meal is a tasty, even historic alternative, especially when it’s putting fresh, local ingredients to good use.
Let’s take a look at three specialities of our beautiful region.
From the sea
The long coastline of Suffolk and Norfolk means that food from the sea has always played an important role in the cuisine for the eastern part of the region, even if the industry is no longer what it once was. Of all of the seafood recipes of the area, this Suffolk Fish Pie is certainly one of the easiest and most satisfying.
Simply poach 2 lbs of fresh cod or haddock in a pint of milk, seasoning to taste. Reserve the milk and flake the fish into a large buttered dish. Slice 3 hard boiled eggs and lay on top of the fish. To make the sauce, melt 2 oz of butter in a saucepan and stir in 2 oz of flour and add the milk, stirring all the time. When the sauce has thickened add a handful of chopped parsley and a teaspoon of chopped capers, pour over the fish and cover with 1 lb of mashed potato. Place in the oven for 30 minutes at 190°C: 375°F: Gas mark 5.
From the land
For farmers they’re a pest, but for the people of Suffolk and Norfolk rabbits were always a source of cheap but very flavoursome meat, not to mention the main component of this classic East Anglian rabbit casserole which uses local cider too.
Slice a small cabbage and boil for five minutes, then drain. Fry a small, sliced onion with 1 lb of sausages until they brown. Put these in a large pot along with the cabbage, a jointed rabbit, and four rashers of uncooked streaky bacon. Add ¼ pint of chicken stock, ½ pint of dry Suffolk cider and mixed herbs and seasoning. Cover the pot and simmer on a very low heat for 2 ½ hours.
And to round it all off
Allegedly a favourite of the Duke of Norfolk, the pudding of the same name is a rich and boozy treat. First take half a dozen eggs and separate them. Beat the yolks with a glass of brandy and add a pinch of nutmeg and a tablespoon of sugar. Boil a large cupful of pudding rice in a pint of Madeira for 30 minutes then add a dozen ratafia cakes and the beaten egg yolks. Pour into a dish lined with puff pastry and bake in a low oven for 45 minutes.
So next time anyone questions the culinary credentials of the region here are three great examples to put them right. And, of all three, the rich and indulgent flavours of the Duke of Norfolk’s pudding is sure to be the one that settles the matter once and for all.