A spice bag is a favorite takeaway item served in Chinese restaurants all over Ireland. Chinese food is Ireland's favorite type of take-out, known in Ireland as takeaway.
So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that the Irish have invented their own Chinese dish, the Spice Bag.
But what is the spice bag?
What does it taste like, and why has it become a staple in every Chinese Takeaway in Ireland?
I'll answer all those questions and more for you in this article.
What is a Spice Bag?
A spice bag, also known as a spicy bag, spice box, or spicy box, is made of deep-fried chips (thick-cut fries), chicken, red and green peppers, fried onions, and a spice blend that includes salt and five-spice.
This dish is most popular in Dublin, Ireland's capital city, but it is found on Chinese restaurant menus all over the country.
Sometimes it is served with curry sauce and other times without, depending on which restaurant you go to.
In 2020 the spice bag was named Ireland's Favourite Takeaway Dish in the Just Eat Takeaway Awards.
What started out as the ultimate hangover food has turned into something of a phenomenon in just a few short years.
Where did the Spice Bag Come From?
There was a little bit of debate about where the Spice Bag was originally invented for a while. A couple of different restaurants across the country claimed they invented it first.
But, a reporter from RTE, Ireland's state broadcaster, got to the bottom of the case. The spice bag was created by The Sunflower Chinese in Templeogue, a suburb of Dublin, and they've been serving it since 2010. When talking to the reporter about the creation of the Spice Bag, Sunflower Chinese said,
"We kind of looked for something different as a staff, you know, for when you're finished. The food is always the same, so when you work here, you like to have something different. So we tried a few different things one night, and we came up with the Spice Bag, and it was quite tasty. Then a friend tried it and told their friend about it, and they asked would you do it for their friend, it snowballed from then, and I suppose the rest is history; it just grew and grew."
Can I Make a Spice Bag at Home?
You can! But, I should warn you now. If you ever go to a Chinese takeaway in Ireland, your spice bag may not taste like theirs.
That's because every restaurant has a slightly different take on the idea. Some restaurants go very heavy on the salt and chili, while others go for a more restrained flavor.
And of course, everyone will say that their local is the best. Though a few Irish websites have run polls over the years to find the best.
Suppose you'd like to make your own spice bag. In that case, you'll need to start with some thick-cut fries, battered chicken, such as whole breast chicken strips, slices of red and green bell peppers, and just a few small red chili peppers, and large pieces of fried chopped onions.
For the spices, use two teaspoons of Chinese five-spice, a teaspoon of dried chili, and two teaspoons of coarse salt. Once everything has been cooked without any spices, toss it into a paper bag with the spice blend and shake.
And that's all there is to making a spice bag.
I hope you enjoyed this little taste of Dublin and Ireland. Here are a few other food posts you might enjoy...
Thanks for following my recipes and ramblings.