The Perennial Australian Question: Potato Cake vs Potato Scallop [they’re not what you think…]

[Thanks to the Melbourne National Novel Writing Month Discoed server for inspiring this post]

So, there’s a long history in Australia of certain linguistic arguments based on what each state/territory calls a certain thing. You see it in things like bathers vs trunks vs cossies [swimwear for my non Australian readers].

The big one though?

….Potato Cake vs Potato Scallop….

Essentially, the argument is about what people call the flat, usually round shaped, battered and fried disk of potato that you can buy at takeaways, fish and chip stores, even on stalls at some train platforms in Melbourne. Its a big running argument that has split families and broken relationships. Its SERIOUS business. There have been many articles written about this, you can find them online.

Now, I am a Tasmanian and we call them potato cakes. Makes sense, right? Its shaped to resemble a cake.

People who use the term ‘Potato Cake’ are often found in:
– Melbourne
– Tasmania
– Parts of NSW [Riverina and Murray River areas]

People who use the term ‘Potato Scallop’ to describe it are nearly all found in:
– Sydney and the rest of NSW
– Queensland
– Parts of the ACT

Now, there are a few alternative terms for this debate but they dont always get mentioned
– WA and NT are pretty mixed, the term apparently depends on local surroundings
– SA and New Zealand tend to use the term ‘fritter’

Now…..we do use the term in Tasmania of ‘potato scallop’ but it isnt to do with the fried food. No, in our household the term potato scallop refers to a very particular dish that I thought I should share with you on this blog. Its called ‘scallop’ because of the shape of the potato pieces and it is….

Wait for it…….

A form of potato bake. Yep, thats a tasmanian potato scallop.

Pretty anticlimactic, right? Well, it just so happens to be delicious.

Our version used to be consumed for special occasions and during the winter, because it is rich and decadent and warming. Its perfect comfort food – hearty and fattening feeling from the potatoes, silky and rich from the dairy. A real ‘stick to your ribs’ dish perfect for when it gets too cold. And like most of our dishes on this blog, its easy to cook, not very complicated, feeds a good amount of people and just…makes you feel good.

I hope, if you do decide to have a go at making it, that you let me know in the comments. Was it as good as I made it out to be? What worked? What didnt? What did you try differently? I really enjoy hearing how people feel and look forwards to any comments left on this blog.

“Potato Scallops” Casserole
3 large potatoes
3 rashers of bacon, chopped
1 large onion
600mls thickened cream
1 cup shredded cheese
2 heaped tablespoons of flour
salt and pepper

1. Mix enough cream into the flour to make a paste and then add the rest of the cream
2. Slice potatoes, either thick or in large chunks
3. Slice onion into rings
4. Layer potato, onion, bacon and cheese in that order to a large casserole/oven proof dish and season with s&p
5. Pour half the cream over top
6. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients in layers
7. Top with remaining or extra cheese until the top is covered
8. Cook at 180 degrees celsius for 1 hour or until potato has softened
9. Serve and eat while hot

So that is our entry in the perennial cake vs scallop potato saga. I hope if you make it, you let me know how it went.


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