The Delicious Ulster Fry
By James Maddock
I've recently spent some time in Belfast and amongst the many sights and sounds there are to enjoy in this friendly city, one of the stand-out pleasures I experienced during my stay was devouring a delicious Ulster Fry.
I don't need to explain this to anyone from the Emerald Isle, but for those of you who have never heard of the Ulster Fry, it's basically a fried breakfast similar to the traditional English Breakfast but with a couple of key differences (which will become clear later in the article).
Before I continue, I'd like to point out that, as with many regional recipes, different people have different interpretations of the Ulster Fry, so please leave comments below if you feel an important ingredient has been left out or something should be removed.
Of course, plenty has been said in recent years about the possible adverse health implications of eating fried food, so bear that in mind if you're planning to make this on a daily basis. But every now and again it makes a great treat.
Preparing and Cooking an Ulster Fry
To cook the Ulster Fry you're going to need a frying pan. Ideally, it should be large enough to accommodate all the elements; Ulster Fry aficionados say that in order to maximise flavour, everything should be fried together in the one frying pan. However, this can be quite tricky so if you feel the need to use more than one pan that's fine too.
As far as cooking oil is concerned, your usual oil should suffice. Top chefs who cook the Ulster Fry for a living recommend using a cold-pressed rapeseed oil, which has the benefits of not imparting any taste and possessing a high burning point which makes cooking the Fry in one pan easier.
Try and keep the heat fairly low and consistent when cooking. This will give you greater control over the process and stop the oil spitting too much.
So, without further ado, here are the ingredients you will need to create your very own Ulster Fry, wherever you are in the world!
Delicious 'bangers' are the meaty heart of an Ulster Fry. As far as I am aware, the sausages can be either beef or pork so go with your favourites. As always when buying meat, try and get good quality sausages; the best ones are normally those made by independent butchers who source the meat themselves and hand-make the sausages.
Whether you like your bacon crispy or floppy, with or without fat, smoked or unsmoked, there's no doubt that an Ulster Fry isn't an Ulster Fry without bacon. So, treat yourself to a premium, free-range brand of bacon and enjoy!
This sets the Ulster Fry apart from the English Breakfast: it's a form of bread that uses bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent rather than yeast. It's very popular in Belfast, and the locals simply refer to it as 'soda'. When soda bread is cut in a triangular shape, it is known as a 'soda farl'. You should be able to source a good soda bread at your local supermarket. Once everything else in the pan is cooked to your preference, lightly fry the soda to get a crispy finish. It'll soak up all the lovely juices in the pan and provide a wonderful flavour hit on the plate.
Another part of the Ulster Fry that you won't find in a full-English: it's a different type of bread that uses potato in place of some of the wheat flour. The bread may be leavened or unleavened and is served in a farl shape similarly to the soda bread. This is sometimes also called 'fadge' or potato cakes. As with the soda bread, fry lightly just before serving.
One or two fried eggs form part of the Ulster Fry, depending on your appetite. I'd recommend a good quality, large free-range egg. When frying the egg, try and get a nice and crispy white and a runny yolk which can then be mopped up with the fried breads.
These are the main ingredients that, as far as I can tell, are the essentials for an Ulster Fry. In addition, you could add tomatoes, mushrooms and black or white pudding. Anything else, including the likes of baked beans, is probably more suited to and English breakfast.
All that remains is to brew yourself a cup of tea and to tuck in! Enjoy!