In part one of our culinary journey across Scandinavia, we saw how the vast landscape of the Nordic region influenced the food of the region. In this blog we look at how important fish is to the Nordic cuisine as well as what meats are preferred. Scandinavia has a vast coastline which obviously is perfect for fishing, and the traditional way for preserving fish in the Nordic territories for the harsh winters is sousing or pickling. In fact, pickling is used for many ingredients as well as fish, including vegetables, and herbs.
Probably the most popular fish in Scandinavia is the humble herring. The Nordic people get really creative with herring and fry it, smoke it, but most of all pickle it. In Scandinavia the pickling solution is less tart than in other regions in Europe, so the fish can be used for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Curing is also a very popular cooking technique in Scandinavia and smoked and cured dishes are also loved. Smoked salmon is one in particular. Gravadlax is a world famous dish that originated in Scandinavia, and basically is a dill-cured salmon.
Mackerel is also popular in the region, which can also be smoked or soused and eaten hot or cold. One of the lesser known local fish is the Arctic Charr. The Nordic people also love seafood, and Sweden in particular enjoys the crayfish season, with plenty of outdoor parties arranged to enjoy this seasonal delicacy.
Meat is also loved by Nordic people and pork in particular. A highly popular family dish is flaeskesteg which is the Nordic equivalent to Roast Pork. Served with lashings of gravy and potatoes it is a Danish as Roast Beef is British, it is also very common as a Christmas Day lunch.
In the north of the region more game is eaten, such as deer and elk. The meat is very healthy and lean with very little fat content. In some of the more extreme areas you can even find bear sausages, and even smoked lamb. Of course, the meat section must include meatballs which is one of the most loved dishes in Scandinavia. Depending where you are the recipes differ slightly, for instance in Sweden they used pork and beef mince to make the dish. In Denmark however, pork and veal is preferred. Also depending on the region, the size of the meatballs differs from small to large, but whatever size they are usually served with potatoes.
The Nordic cuisine has not been particularly known for its desserts, but time are now changing. Scandinavian baking is now becoming very much in vogue. The added spice of cinnamon is commonly used in Nordic buns and cakes along with fruit.
Kanelbullar are particularly enjoyed in Sweden, which are better known as cinnamon buns. And in Denmark pastries are more popular, what would coffee be like without a Danish pastry? Another great favorite is the Swedish chocolate cake, kladdkaka.
Bread is highly important in Nordic cuisine, known as brod.
The traditional favorite breads are dark rye which are full of flavor and can be eaten with almost anything including pickled fish!
The food of the Nordic region is as varied as its people, a fair percentage is traditionally born out of the harsh weather conditions and the importance of preserving. But the tastes have stayed even in a modern refrigerated world.