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You might be thinking that, beyond haggis, Scotland is not world-renowned for the quality of its cuisine. However, those that hold this opinion clearly haven’t sampled the country’s regional delicacies, fresh from source. Based on the cornerstones of meat, dairy products, fish and vegetables, Scotland’s culinary traditions provide a range of distinctive, hearty and flavoursome recipes.
If you’re planning to visit the Highlands on holiday any time soon, here are 15 traditional Scottish foods that you simply must look out for on the menu.
- Aberdeen Angus Beef
Because of the quality of their meat, Angus cattle are bred all over the world for use in beef production. However, Angus beef from native breeds, reared using traditional grass feeding methods, remains the tastiest in the world. When picking Aberdeen Angus from a Scottish menu, look out for meat that has been dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days, as this ensures the most tender and tasty cuts.
- Lorne Sausage
Cut into squares, Lorne sausage is similar to a traditional sausage – but tastier and with more right angles! There is some debate where the name for Lorne sausage comes from. Many believe it is named after the famous Glaswegian comedian, Tommy Lorne, while others claim it derives from the Firth of Lorne. Either way, it makes for a fantastic accompaniment to a fried breakfast.
- Black Pudding
Although it’s popular throughout the British Isles, some of the best Black Pudding in the UK is definitely found in Scotland. Black Pudding is made from a delicious combination of blood, suet, oats, barley and a special blend of spices stuffed into a casing. You’re right, that doesn’t sound great. But when you consider that Scots fought hard for this foodstuff to be granted protected status by the European Commission, it’s got to be worth trying, right?
- Scottish Oatcakes
It’s fair to say that you haven’t properly tried oatcake until you’ve tried traditional Scottish savoury oatcake. Sometimes called bannocks, Scottish oatcake is made using oatmeal and is baked or cooked on a griddle. You will often find Scottish oatcakes served with freshly smoked salmon and cheese – which creates a scrumptious combination.
- Neeps & Tatties
The wonderfully named neeps and tatties is made from swede and potatoes, and will often be found accompanying another famous Scottish delicacy, haggis. Although simple in construction, the combination of swede and potatoes is so delicious that many famous chefs, including Jamie Oliver, have created their own contemporary twist on this classic Scottish dish.
Although Cock-a-Leekie is often called ‘Scotland’s National Soup’, many believe that the dish originated in France. Consisting of leeks and chicken stock, thickened with rice or barley, the original recipe for this dish also included prunes. History fans will be interested in the fact that Cock-a-Leekie is infamous for being one of two soups on the Titanic’s lunch menu on the day it sank in 1912.
The best oats never leave Scotland. For this reason, you simply can’t go for breakfast while in the Highlands without sampling the country’s ‘unofficial national dish’. For the record, traditional Scottish porridge is made with oatmeal and water, which is cooked with a smidge of salt and stirred with a wooden spurtle, before being served in a piping hot bowl.
Stovies is a stew, conventionally made from meat, onions and potatoes – or the leftovers of a roast dinner. Recipes vary, and can include chicken, beef or lamb, and sometimes diced up carrot. No matter what the ingredients, this winter warmer provides the ideal meal after a long walk across the frosty Highland countryside.
In recent times, this traditional Scottish dessert has been given a modern makeover, thanks in no small part to celebrity chefs, including Nigel Slater and Heston Blumenthal. Yet the best examples of this simple Scottish treat still include fresh raspberries, whipped cream, honey, toasted oats, plus – that all-important ingredient – a dash of authentic Scottish whisky.
The name of this delicious snack is believed to refer to the pie appearing on many wedding menus in Scotland. The ingredients of this meat pastry include minced beef, onions and a selection of special seasonings. Traditional Forfar bakers tend to use shortcrust pastry when making a bridie however some other bakers prefer to use flaky or puff pastry.
- Scotch Pie
The traditional Scotch pie is a small, double-crust pie filled with minced meat. One of the oldest ‘fast foods’ in the world, this savoury snack was originally sold at half-time during football matches. These days, however, the snack is sold all over the country, every day of the week, and there are fiercely fought competitions held annually to find the nation’s best-tasting Scotch pie.
- Tattie Scone
The tattie scone – sometimes referred to as a potato scone – is a regional variation of the griddle scone. Fried using a mixture of boiled potatoes, butter and salt, tattie scones are served as part of a full Scottish breakfast – often alongside Lorne sausage. The World Tattie Scone Championship is also held every year at Forres in the Highlands, as part of the European Pipe Band Championships.
- Cullen Skink
This traditional fish soup is a speciality from the town of Cullen, on the north-east coast of Scotland, near the Highlands. The dish consists of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. However, some local variations on the recipe use milk instead of water, while adding a single cream to make the consistency of the soup even thicker.
Traditionally, kippers are smoked herring that are covered in butter, sliced in half from head to tail, salted in brine, and then smoked over smouldering wood. The North Sea provides Scotland with a wealth of tasty herring, and served at breakfast, they represent a fantastically healthy way to fuel up for a day of adventure in the Highlands.
- Clootie Dumpling
A clootie dumpling is a dessert made from flour, breadcrumbs, dried fruit, suet, sugar, spices and milk. Although the recipe for this dessert often varies by region, you will sometimes find clootie dumpling served with lavish helpings of treacle or even golden syrup. So, when on holiday in the Highlands, you’d be silly to miss out on the opportunity to treat yourself to this most enticing of Scottish delicacies.
Do you fancy enjoying some of these traditional Scottish foods while relaxing in the beautiful Highlands? Then check out Highland Heritage’s selection of coach tours – which includes a wide range of full-day excursions, luxurious accommodation and, of course, the chance to sample some amazing foods.