Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gastronomical Delights in Stockholm

Is pickled herring a traditional Swedish food? You bet! There is a limited range of seafood in Swedish cuisine and pickled-sweetened herring is one of them. Pickled herring is a delicacy in the Scandinavians and the traditional flavour is a mixture of salt, sugar, vinegar to which peppercorn, onions and bay leaves are added. Traditionally, herring is eaten on knäckebröd, a kind of thick crackers. Sometimes the pickled herring is served with salad and potatoes for a really filling meal. Other traditional flavourings are sherry, mustard and dill. For first-timers, eating the silvery, smelly and slimy fish could be quite a task but experiencing Stockholm entails forking some inlagd sill and putting it in your mouth!

Husmanskost is not a dish but pertains to traditional everyday Swedish dishes. Ingredients used are fish, pork, milk, cereals, cabbage, onion, berries, apples, root vegetables such as potato. Potatoes are a staple carbohydrate, more widely eaten than pasta and bread. Berries and apples are the most traditional fruits and are cooked and served in a variety of ways - pies, cake, pastry, sauce et al.

Gravlax on crisp bread with pepper and lemon
Photo by Charles Haynes, Flickr Creative Commons

Traditional Swedish food are commonly cooked by boiling and by cooking in fat and flour. Historically, spices were not dominant in Swedish cooking and up to now spices are sparingly used. Popular in most Swedish homes are ärtsoppa (pea soup), rutabaga and potato served with pork, boiled and mashed potato, variety of sausages, bacon and meat. Beef and lamb are cooked sparingly as pork is the more preferred meat. Other Husmanskost are palt which is actually potato dumplings and meat or kroppkakor which is potato dumplings filled with pork and onions; ragamunk (potato pancake); kalops (meat stew with onion) and more.

Swedish Köttbullar (meatballs) is made of a mixture of pork, beef, and veal, breadcrumbs soaked in milk, minced onion, broth and cream. Seasoned with spice, salt and white pepper, the dish is usually served with boiled potatoes, gravy, lingonberry jam and pickled cucumber. There are plenty of restaurants serving Köttbullar. There are high-end restaurants that charge exorbitant rates for a meal of meatballs so consider opting for dagens ratt or set lunch meals for a more affordable fare. There are RV-ers (motorhome vacationers) who troop to the market, buy the ingredients for meatballs and cook the dish themselves for a cheaper option.

Other traditional Swedish main dishes are:
  • Blodpudding - or Black pudding which eaten with potatoes, lingonberry jam and grated carrot
  • Falukorv- or big fat sausages
  • Gravlax - cured Salmon
  • Blodkorv - blood sausages which is made of pig blood, pork, flour and spices
  • Janssons frestelse - which is a casserole made of grated potato , anchovy, fish, onion, cream and spices
  • Julskinka - is Christmas ham, cured, boiled, breaded with mustard, egg and bread crumbs.
  • Kåldolmar - cabbage rolls!
  • Blodpalt - blood dumplings!
The Swedes are fond of pig’s blood, potatoes, dumplings, sausages and pickled herring. If you have tasted all these then maybe it’s time to level up to Surströmming, which is fermented herring said to have the most putrid odour of food in the whole world.

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