Monday, February 12, 2007


Bannock is a staple of Inuit cooking (now there's an oxymoron!). Borrowed from Scots fur traders, it is an essential complement to tea and is ideal for a high-energy nibble. It tastes a bit like a scone, but with a heavy smack of lardy goodness.

It is also one of the simplest of recipes, consisting of flour, baking powder, lard, water and salt.

The trick is in the cooking. In northern Quebec, most bannock is heated in a frying pan on top the stove or baked in a frying pan in the oven. A "cake" is made about an inch thick and the diameter of the pan. The heat has to be just right or else you'll burn the exterior and have an uncooked centre.

Its popularity isn't just due to its simplicity and taste: it is just as easy to make in camp or outdoors on a Coleman stove (naptha, not the newfangled propane abominations) as at home. Moreover, it is high in carbohydrates, something you'll much appreciate when outside at -30ยบ C. Speaking of which, being dryish it doesn't freeze solid, so it's easy to bite off a mouthful without fear of cracking a tooth even when it has been packed on a sled for a couple of days.

The ultimate high-carb bannock is inuluyaak* made primarily in the Hudson Bay communities of Puvirnituq and Inukjuak. Same ingredients but deep fried in melted lard. Definitely not for those of us watching our waistlines, but incredibly tasty and filling.

When I first moved north, I asked a woman for a recipe to make bannock. She laughed and said she'd show me, since it's one of those foods whose ingredients are eyeballed rather than measured. Just don't forget the salt.


Blogger D said...

Recipes are not necessary for bannock. I presume ours down here is the same as yours up there. Cree Fry Bread with raisins is where it's at!

9:18 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Looks good - "d" beat me to the punch - it looks like Navajo Fry Bread. Drop some chili on top of that bad boy and you'll have an "Indian Taco". Most excellent.

I checked out a Scottish cookbook once, figuring on doing some dishes from my roots, but found the Scots mostly ate the stuff I throw away. In the words of Mike Meyers, "Most Scottish food started on a dare".

11:45 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Some olive oil, a little basil and some of those mussels and prawns on there and you could have Inuit Pizza.

11:07 AM  
Blogger marty said...

Didn't George Peppard play a tv detective called Bannock?

10:29 PM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Sounds delish. Although I think an artery or two hardened just reading about it.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Sounds lovely - minus the lard tho!

1:09 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

d: Raisins? How urbane! Up here people are staunch traditionalists all their habits, including food. Seeing someone put raisins in their bannock would be seen as living on the edge.

Phos: Strange but true - Navaho were originally from the far north in the MacKenzie Valley in the Yukon, so their predeliction towards bannock is understandable. Re: the pizza, it would be an ultra-thick crust, and I bet you couldn't get through nore than a couple of slices.

Marty: Wasn't that Banacek or something like that?

WoD: Did you have hard tack aka New Brunswick cake?

Fuff: here lard = vegetable shortening. It is the "sine qua non" of bannock.

2:59 PM  
Blogger L said...

looks odd but tasty

11:44 PM  

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