They’re known worldwide for their rich musical heritage and exceptional hospitality, so it’s no surprise Atlantic Canadians have a distinctive cuisine, too. If you’re lucky enough to be invited into a warm Atlantic home, chances are they’ll fire up a scoff (a.k.a., make some food) right quick and serve you one of these iconic Atlantic Canadian treats.
1. Clam Chowder
Enjoyed across the Maritimes, clam chowder is classic comfort food and was a favourite aboard the long-running Canadian warship HMCS Haida, commissioned in 1943 and “the fightingest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy.” Said one sailor, “Each day ran into the next aboard a ship; when you got clam chowder, you always knew it was Friday.” You can whip up a batch of our creamy Quick Clam Chowder in under an hour.
2. Jiggs Dinner
Whether they call it Jiggs, boiled, cooked or Sunday dinner, this traditional single-dish meal of salt beef, split peas and root veggies (sometimes a roast turkey is added to the mix, too) is a favourite among Newfoundlanders. It’s usually served up with preserves, such as sweet mustard pickles. And if you’re lucky to have leftovers, fry them together in a pan with bologna slices for a traditional Monday hash. Try our hearty Jiggs Dinner to get a taste of this beloved meal.
3. Sweet Mustard Pickles
With as many recipes as there are cooks on the East Coast, this mix of cucumbers, onion, cauliflower and red pepper in tangy mustard brine is served at formal events and holiday gatherings. Also a must with Jiggs dinner, these pickles essentially taste good with everything. In fact, when Smucker’s ceased production of its popular Habitant and Zest mustard pickles, Newfoundlanders stocked up on the remaining jars, sometimes trading them online. Then, in the summer of 2016, Smucker’s re-released the sweet and zesty condiment under the Bick’s brand. Try a homemade version of this coveted condiment with our Sweet Mustard Pickles recipe.
4. Fish and Potato Bake
Ask a Newfoundlander, and they’ll tell you the word “fish” really means “cod.” The mild, white-fleshed delicacy that spawned a once-thriving industry on Canada’s Atlantic coast has begun to flourish again. Luckily, Atlantic Canadians’ traditional cod recipes haven’t gone anywhere. Our East Coast Fish & Potato Bake recipe celebrates two regional superstars in one hearty homestyle dinner: cod and potatoes—an essential P.E.I. crop.
Those hailing from Halifax, or Haligonians, know this quintessential street snack tastes best in the wee morning hours. A Maritime spin on the doner kebab, donairs are made from spiced ground beef shaved off a spit, piled onto fresh pita with onions and tomatoes, and smothered in an addictive sauce of garlic powder, sweetened condensed milk and vinegar. Try our Donair Burgers & Halifax Sauce—it is right tasty!
6. Slow Cooker Hodge Podge
Not only do Maritimers remain good-natured throughout the wickedest weather conditions, but they can also turn a random selection of veggies into a delectable one-pot meal. Hodge podge is that kind of dinner (or side, as you like) and a New Brunswickers and Prince Edward Islanders favourite. Recipes vary, depending on family traditions and what’s fresh, but you’ll know your hodge podge is the real deal when it’s simple, savoury and satisfying. Our Slow Cooker Hodge Podge is no exception.
7. Blueberry Grunt
Cape Breton’s famous blueberries are on full display in this beloved dessert, which goes by several different names, each quirkier than the last. Whether you call it a grunt, a slump, a bangbelly or a fungy, the combination of sweet, doughy dumplings poached in homemade blueberry sauce will surely have you coming back for more. Try our Blueberry Grunt made with fresh or frozen berries.
8. Crosby’s Molasses
Proud New Brunswickers enjoy a long-held tradition of using molasses as a spread over hot-from-the-oven biscuits, baked into molasses and gingerbread cookies, and as a staple for Saturday night dinner with baked beans and brown bread. Why? New Brunswick is known for Crosby’s, a family-owned company founded in 1879. With its roots as a supplier of “liquid gold” (a.k.a., fancy molasses), families could purchase one gallon jugs of this sweet ingredient from Crosby’s in its early days. Although the bottle size is much smaller today, Crosby’s Molasses is still a beloved treat on the East Coast.
9. Lobster Rolls
What better way to use up unfinished meaty bits from a whole lobster than to mix them with onions, celery and a generous amount of mayonnaise, and serve them on a bun? “Mom’s next-day lunch” is how many Atlantic Canadians remember the lobster roll, before it rose to rock-star status in the sandwich world. Try our Chive-Lime Lobster Rolls to savour this rich and satisfying meal for yourself.
10. Deep-Fried Pepperoni
Snackers all over the world know that to deep-fry a favourite food is to make it that much tastier, so we have to wonder why deep-fried pepperoni rarely strays far from its East Coast origins. Dipped in honey mustard sauce and paired with a local ale, deep-fried pepperoni is a Halifax pub staple, guaranteed to sustain you through an evening of fun—or at least until it’s time to grab that late-night donair.