Top National Dishes by Country
Here I thought I would explore something that lies extremely close to my heart and stomach! Introducing top national dishes by country seemed like a great topic for me to write about today, given that I was raised by a family of chefs.
Food has always been in abundance and my love for it is now a part of my core.
What better way to honor my love than to explore some of the world’s tastiest national dishes? I’ve tried a number of these; others are on my hit list.
Top National Dish – England – Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
As an English guy this had to be first, and ah Roast dinner, how I miss you so. There isn’t a Sunday that goes by where I don’t think about my family sitting down to a roast dinner. I’m salivating just typing this. A roast dinner consists of roasted meat (usually beef, lamb, or chicken) accompanied with a variety of vegetables, roasted potatoes, and a homemade Yorkshire pudding (which is pancake batter thrown into searing hot oil and roasted until fluffy) all topped off with a rich gravy. Now if you speak to any English person about which part is the better part of a roast, you will receive variety of heated answers. But honestly, it’s all good. Top tip: The best gravy is always made using meat juices from the roast. Mamalamlarlarlamaleraaaaaaah!
Top National Dish – China – Dumplings
Now these have been my saving grace when that wallet is looking slightly empty, as is my stomach. Dumplings in China are cheap but so tasty. Dumplings are a minced meat with vegetables wrapped in elastic dough and usually come with an array of dipping sauces. ‘Jiaozi’ dumplings are usually boiled or steamed, but my favorite, the ‘guotie’ dumplings are laid flat in a pan and steamed in a thin layer of water, then fried in oil so that you get a nice crunchy bottom. I can easily sit and plough through 20 of these, because I’m a pig.
Check out our China food guide for more information on food in China.
Top National Dish – Georgia – Kinkali
Speaking of my love for dumplings, here’s one that I haven’t tried. The Georgian dumplings are slightly different to their Chinese cousin in that they are a lot bigger. Usually they are filled with a spiced meat of either pork, beef and sometimes lamb with a variety of herbs, usually always coriander and mushrooms, onions and potatoes. These are cooked with the meat raw so that the juices come out and fill the dumping whilst cooking, and you know what that means, more slurping. Traditionally you slurp the juices up before devouring the dumpling; however you do not eat the tip, as it is usually hard.
Check out our Georgia food guide for more information on food in Georgia.
Top National Dish – USA – Hamburger
To quote a song by Phoebe Buffay (the lady that sings the truth) from the popular TV show Friends – ‘The cow in the meadow goes moo, the cow in the meadow goes moo, then the farmer chops and grinds them up and that’s how we get hamburgers’ And I couldn’t be happier for this process. I apologize now to any vegetarians reading this, but I’m a big meat lover. A good pound of beef topped with cheese, bacon, pickles, onion, lettuce and tomatoes means YUM. The sign of a good burger is that it is stacked so high it won’t fit in your mouth.
Top National Dishes by Country – Taiwan – Beef Noodle Soup
This one I have tried, again and again I have tried. If you ask any local in Taiwan or the Asia area what the national dish for Taiwan is, they will always say beef noodle soup. This dish consists of a beef soup (which is more like a broth) that is rich with a hearty beefy flavor that has delicious thick noodles swimming around in there with huge chunks of mouth watering beef. Get your slurp on because this is a very more-ish dish.
Check out or Taiwan food guide for more information about food in Taiwan
Top National Dish – Jamaica – Ackee and Salt fish
This is one for my hit list; I’ve read a lot about it and its one that I’ve wanted to try for a while. You may be wondering what ackee is. Well let me hit you with some knowledge. Controversially ackee was a slave food but now it’s been reclaimed as part of Jamaica’s national dish. It is a fruit that bears a buttery taste with a nutty hint and when boiled resembles something similar to scrambled egg. This is then sautéed with salt fish along with other strong flavors such as onion and tomatoes and finished by serving it on a bed of cassava cakes (bammy) and plantains to give it a Jamaican flare.
Top National Dish – Korea – Bulgogi
Now this one I have tried, and if there’s one thing Koreans know how to do it’s barbequed meat. Bulgogi is a really tasty dish that uses a nice tender cut of beef that is then marinated in delicious flavors consisting of garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, ginger, onions and mushrooms and then BBQ’d (usually at your table). You eat this heavenly beef by using the sides of leafy vegetables to wrap your meat in and enjoy. Often there can be other things on the BBQ such as onion, peppers and mushrooms to accompany the dish.
Check out our Korea food guide for more information about food in Korea.
Top National Dish – Canada – Poutine
I tried this one very recently after my Canadian roommate very patriotically wouldn’t stop raving on about it, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. This is food for addicts, pure and simple. You have greasy chips (or fries as you people over the pond call them) that is then loaded with cheese curds and topped off with a generous slathering of rich gravy. When I tried this dish the world faded away around me, I dived in and totally forgot my friends, my manners, my name….
Top National Dish – Abu Dhabi – Falafel
This I have tried but not in the UAE, and it is one of my most favorite street food and snack. It is a fried patty that is made up of chickpeas and fava beans and is usually served in pita bread and topped with salads, hot sauces and pickled vegetables and drizzled in a variety of sauces. I am a huge meat lover, but this little vegetarian nugget totally makes it up there with my favorite foods.
Top National Dishes by Country – Saudi Arabia – Kabsa
Another one for my hit list, and this one is high up there based on the spices used. You may need to have a word with your taste buds before trying this dish, just a quick prep talk to let them know they are about to be bombarded with flavor that will have them dancing all night long.
This is basically just a meat and rice dish, and it varies depending on who cooks it. However staple spices include black pepper, cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, black lime, bay leaves and nutmeg. almonds, pine nuts, onions and raisins can be blended in with the rice to lift even more flavor. On top of this rice is a slab of meat that has been prepared in a unique way called mandi, whereby the meat is barbecued in a deep hole that is covered whilst the meat cooks.
Top National Dish – Poland – Bigos
If you are a fan of a good hearty meal (such as I am) then you have hit the top spot with Bigos. Bigos actually means hunters stew, if you can hunt it, then it’s in the stew. Regular items to be found hanging out in this stew are cabbage, sauerkraut, sausage, tomatoes, honey, mushrooms and a variety of meats which could be some or all of the following: Pork (usually smoked), ham, bacon, beef, veal, venison or other game and sometimes other left over cuts of meat make it to the party.
The great thing about this stew is that it actually improves its flavor over time, usually a bigos stew will be kept going for a week or more to let the flavors mature.
Top National Dish – Thailand – Pad Thai
Get your taste buds ready for a taste sensation, because coming their way is a rollercoaster party of flavors and you are in invited. Pad Thai is made up of rice noodles that are then stir friend with eggs, tofu, garlic, shallots, dried shrimp, red chllis, palm sugar and lime wedges and then topped with chopped roasted peanuts. Other variations include ingredients such as coriander leaves, bean sprouts, chives, pickled radishes, turnips and even banana flowers. This shall always be a favorite dish of mine.
Top National Dish – Greece – Souvlaki
This one I have tried, both in Greece and in England. This is to the Greeks like what burgers are to the Americans, fast food on a stick! Souvlaki is basically grilled meat on a skewer that has been marinated in a citrus and herb marinade and then thrown on a flame grill to give it a rich smoky flavor. But it doesn’t end there, no, no, no, it is then nestled comfortably into a warm pita bread where it is accompanied by tzatziki, salad and a side of fried potatoes.
Top National Dish – South Africa – Bobotie
Bobotie is something of an interest of mine, I had a friend tell me about it and he couldn’t suggest trying it enough, and yet I still haven’t. This dish offers you an array of textures and flavors that will keep your mouth in bliss. It consists of two components; the first part in the bottom of the dish is spiced minced meat which is where a lot of the flavor comes from. Sometimes this part is spiced with curry powder giving it a nice kick. Put through this meat are dried fruits such as apricots and sultanas which really compliment the curry flavor. On top of this is then put an egg mix and baked giving some moisture to the dish and a variety of textures.
Top National Dish – Spain – Paella
Of course this had to be in here, my mother lived in Spain for a long period of time and there is nothing I would love more than sitting around a paella pot and sharing it with my family. Now I don’t know if you have ever seen a Paella pot, but wow it is big, my kind of portion size.
What’s in Paella I hear you ask? The better question is what isn’t. You can get a seafood paella which has every oceanic creature you can think of buried in its tasty rice. Or maybe a more meaty one which would consist of rabbit, duck, chicken or even snails. Or even a mixture of the two for the greedy (like myself). Accompanying these meats are a variety of green vegetables and beans. There is usually a layer of toasted rice at the bottom called socarrat which is considered a delicacy and essential to successful paella
Top National Dish – France – Pot-au-feu
Another hearty entry here to keep you warm in the winter, pot-au-feu or ‘pot on the fire’ as it translates is an extremely rustic dish and the quintessence of French family cuisine as it honors both the rich and poor tables alike. It is a stew of beef and root vegetables, the beef is cooked slowly for a long time to make it tender, and the vegetables are usually carrot, turnip, leeks, celery and onions. This is all then sprinkled with flavors of salt, pepper, cloves and a bouquet garni. On first look this is a simple dish, however the methods of cooking are where the secret to its success lie. Bon appetite.
I hope that you have enjoyed my journey through the culinary dishes of the world, I of course know I haven’t covered every country, so readers I challenge you, let me know what your favorite dishes are from certain corners of the world and why. Let’s get this list made longer.
Now as much as I love talking about food, it has been a torturous journey as some of these dishes you can’t find in Taiwan. I’m now going to go and eat my body weight in whatever form of stews, grilled meats, rice dishes, and anything else I can find in my kitchen.