Salmon pudding is based on the traditional Swedish housewife’s firm conviction that a good dinner provides an excellent basis for the next day’s lunch. With a little salmon, a little cream and a little potatoes, you can go a very long way. As usual in home cooking, it is possible to vary the ingredients, provided you control the amount of salt. Thus the salmon in the pudding may be boiled, cold-smoked or hot-smoked, since the basic rule is always that “you take what you have” at home. The main thing is to make sure that the result is delicious. Salmon pudding is traditionally eaten with melted butter. A little fresh lemon juice is a tasty alternative.
400 g (14 oz) salt-cured salmon
1½ kg (3¼ lb) unpeeled potatoes
300 ml (1½ cup) heavy whipping cream
300 ml (1½ cup) milk
1 large bunch of dill
salt, white pepper
Boil the potatoes, and peel them once they have cooled.
If desired, presoak the slices of salmon in milk or water for a few hours to draw out the salt.
Peel and slice the onion. Sauté it in a little butter until it softens, without browning.
Grease an ovenproof baking dish, cover the bottom with potato slices, spreading half the onions on top and then half the salmon and chopped dill. Cover with a new layer of potato slices, then the rest of the onion, salmon and dill. Finish with a layer of potato slices.
Beat together milk, cream and eggs plus salt and pepper.
Pour this mixture on top of the salmon pudding and finish with a few pats of butter.
Bake in oven (200°C/400°F) for 45–60 minutes, or until the pudding feels firm.
Having served as staple food in Sweden for centuries, even millennia, herring still has a central place on our smorgasbord. Most Swedes cannot imagine Midsummer or Christmas celebrations without it. And it is still usually served the old, pickled way. This is a recipe for the more Baltic-style herring, which is first fried then pickled, served with new accessories.
4 fillets of fried pickled herring
1dl (3½ oz) large white beans, soaked overnight and boiled, or canned
8 potatoes, boiled and cut into pieces
2 small onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons almond, blanched and chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
juice of 1½ lemon
3 tablespoons ground sumac
4 tablespoons dill, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
chili, salt and pepper
Fry the almond in butter together with the onions and the garlic. When browned, add sumac (a Middle Eastern spice with a lemony flavor) and stir.
Mix the beans and potatoes with lemon juice and olive oil. Season with chili, salt and pepper. Slowly stir in spring onions, dill and the almonds. Mix carefully and season again.
Serve the spicy salad with fried pickled herring. Top off with a sprig of dill.
In Sweden, fried pickled herring can be bought in many supermarkets, but here is a quick guide to how you can prepare it yourself:
1. Roll fresh, cleaned herring in rye flour, salt and white pepper, and fry it in butter.
2. Mix one part distilled white vinegar (12%), two parts sugar and three parts water in a pot, and boil for a few minutes together with some sliced onion and carrot and a teaspoon of whole allspice.
3. Pickle the fried fish in the cooled sauce.
The recipe was created by Marcus Samuelsson. Marcus Samuelsson was born in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in 1970, and adopted by Swedish parents at the age of three. Set on becoming a chef early on in life, Samuelsson had his breakthrough as chef for well-reputed New York restaurant Aquavit in the mid-1990s with his Scandinavian cooking.
Today, he is involved in several restaurants, among them the Swedish Aquavit restaurant in Stockholm, is a guest professor at Umeå University School of Restaurant and Culinary Arts, and has written several inspiring cook books. Samuelsson was also chosen as guest chef for US President Barack Obama’s first official state dinner.
Fried Baltic herring is one of hundreds of recipes based on the smaller-sized eastern relative of the North Sea herring. Swedes often say that Baltic herring is better the fatter it is, but the truth is perhaps that all Baltic herring tastes good. Some people prefer to fry the filets laid together with parsley between them. Others want the backbone to stay in. But no one talks about frying Baltic herring in anything but butter.
1 kg (2¼ lb) Baltic herring filet
coarse rye flour
salt, white pepper
350 g (12 oz) sugar
300 ml (1½ cup) distilled white vinegar (12% alcohol)
600 ml (3 cups) water
2 tbs whole allspice
2–4 bay leaves
2 red onions
Place the Baltic herring filets skin side down on a cutting board or similar surface.
Salt them and give them a few turns from the white pepper mill, then put together the filets in pairs.
Roll the filets in coarse rye flour and fry them in butter until golden brown on both sides.
Mix all the marinade ingredients and boil for a few minutes in a pot.
Place the finished fried Baltic herring filets, while still warm, on top of each other in a deep bowl or dish.
Pour the warm marinade over them. Let stand until cool.
Peel the red onion, divide it in two, slice it thin and sprinkle on top.
…is a British writer and editor who moved to Sweden in 2001. A former chef turned food and travel writer, he loves everything about food, but particularly the raw ingredients themselves. When not cooking, eating or thinking about food, he can often be found hanging around in butchers shops, fishmongers and grocery stores; a hobby he can pursue for hours on end. He hopes that writing this blog will take up so much time that it halves his food shopping bills.