Scottish cuisine is one of my favorite cuisines. If you’re planning a visit to Edinburgh, here’s some Scottish food you need to try. Please note that I’m not listing British food – dishes generic to the British Isles like fish and chips or a steak pie.
Haggis is your quintessential Scottish food. The basic ingredients are lamb, oats, onions and spices. It’s absolutely delicious, although the store-bought product doesn’t measure up to what you’ll get directly from the butcher. It’s most popular on Burns Night, but I eat it all year long. Sadly, you can’t get haggis imported from Scotland to the US, as the US banned sheep lungs (a key ingredient in haggis) in all food products in 1971. While there are Scottish butchers in the US that produce it, it’s better to try the real thing in Scotland.
A similar dish to haggis is black pudding, made with ground meat, oatmeal, onions, milk, spices, and pig’s blood. That last ingredient might not be for everyone, and I’ve found that fewer people enjoy black pudding than haggis, but I still think it’s a nice dish, especially as part of a full Scottish breakfast.
This is a fancy way of saying a Scottish smoked haddock chowder. Cullen skink used to be a stew with beef scrappings from the front legs of cattle. In the 1890s, the fishing village of Cullen altered the recipe to include smoked haddock, and the change stuck. Aside from the haddock, the chowder includes milk or cream, leeks or onions, and usually potatoes. On a cold, Scottish day, it’s the perfect dish to warm you up.
Scottish salmon is often considered the best in the world. There’s a bunch of technical stuff about how it’s farmed naturally of the coast, but the bottom line is the quality is amazing and you can usually get it for a lot cheaper than other places in the world. One of my favorite lunches in Edinburgh is a salmon and cream cheese croissant or bagel, which is on the menu at most cafes in town.
Cheese certainly isn’t unique to the UK, but several farms in Scotland produce award-winning cheeses that are worth a try, particularly sharp cheddar, blue, and brie. Consider getting a cheese board when sipping your favorite single-malt whisky or a glass of wine.
A great way to try a sample of haggis or black pudding is with a Scottish breakfast, quite possibly the biggest breakfast in the world. Ingredients include, but are not limited to, a fried egg, bacon, link sausages, Lorne (square) sausage, baked beans, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, hashbrowns, a tattie (potato) scone, haggis, black pudding, and toast. Now that’s a feast!
Of course, you can’t visit Scotland without sampling the whisky (unless you’re a teetotaler). There are over 130 distilleries in Scotland producing single-malt, single-grain, or blended Scotch whisky. I’m no connoisseur, but there are plenty of locals in every pub who will gladly give you their recommendations.
Edinburgh’s Secret Food Tour
A great way to sample Scottish food is on the Edinburgh Secret Food Tour. A food tour is one of the best ways to explore a new city, as you get a feel of the city, a history lesson, and a culinary experience all in one. Best of all, you might get me as your tour guide!