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Time Out - Scandinavian Kitchen
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SCANDINAVIAN FOOD

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Scandinavia is a big place, and filing our whole food culture in a box marked “pickled herring” isn’t going to cut the (dill) mustard.
There’s a lot of talk in the press about something called the Nordic Diet. It all stems from a study about how eating the Nordic way can be very beneficial for your whole being. Read more about the actual Nordic Diet here (Link to be added here – need to write it too – wooo hooo – feel free to have a stab?)
Scandinavian food is a bit like us, really: no nonsense, direct and occasionally your face. It is what it is. Each region has different flavours and ingredients, but the basics are the same:
    
Grain and cereal such as rye and oats
Seafood and fish, mainly prawns, salmon, mackerel and herring
Meat both smoked and cured, including lots of game (sorry, Rudolf)
Stuff from trees, bushes and fields such as wild berries and mushrooms
A distinct lack of sunlight and very long, cold winters meant we quickly got used to the idea of preserving food, pickling vegetables and smoking and curing meats to make sure we had enough to last the winter. Popping over to England to do some plundering wasn’t just a day-trip: the ride lasted weeks and the Vikings needed enough food to sustain those journeys; even back then we were finding ways of preserving food for long periods of time.
Scandinavian food is simple. We call it “husmanskost” – farmers’ food, natural and honest, made with the staple goods found on the land. In our opinion, trying to turn our traditional dishes into fancy-schmancy food is not true to what we are. When you work with amazing produce, there is no need to overcomplicate it: just pick, serve and eat.
If you want a good introduction to the basics of what we like to eat, have a look at some of our top sellers (ADD LINKS TO SHOP):
Leksands Crispbread – big, round wholesome slices of crispbread. Once you’ve tried proper crispbread, you won’t go back.
Swedish Mustard Herring – a good herring for beginners. Pickled and marinated in a sweet mustard dressing, it’s a winner even for people who are scared of herring.
Scandinavian cheeses – first timers should go for the brown cheese from Norway, Vasterbotten from Sweden or stinky Gamle Ole from Denmark.
Rye bread mix – to make your own dark rye bread at home just add water and fresh yeast. It’s very easy and you get foolproof Danish “rugbrod” every time.
Easy salad – for a classic beetroot and apple salad, just chop pickled beetroot, mix with chopped apple, add a dollop of crème fraiche and season. Traditional, quick and so very nice 
Our Scandi elves are always in store to help you out if you want to learn more about Scandinavian food. We also stock Nordic recipe books and have handy hints to help you get started.

There's so much more to Nordic food than pickled herring and meatballs. Stretching from the midnight sun of northern Norway to the flat, fertile fields of Denmark, Scandinavian food culture is a lot more varied than you might think.

That said, several dishes and ingredients link all the regions together, bringing a uniquely Nordic food experience to life. That was created by thousands of years of heritage and shared culture. And a bit of Viking pillaging.

Scandinavian food is simple. We call it husmanskost - farmer's fare. It's natural and honest, made with the staple produce found on the land. For ScandiKitchen, trying to turn traditional dishes into fancy and fussy affairs isn't true to who we are. When you work with the very best produce, there's no need to overcomplicate it. Just pick (or pickle), serve and eat.

 

Smörgåsbord

It literally means 'buttered table' - indeed, the Swedish word for sandwich is smörgås. An array of small dishes, both warm and cold, a traditional smörgåsbord starts with fish, moving on to cold meats, and then warm dishes. Cheeses come at the end. In Sweden, the smörgåsbord is always laid out in advance; in Denmark (where it's called det kolde bord, or 'the cold table'), dishes are sent to the table throughout the meal. A traditional lunch can take hours, and aquavit is enjoyed at regular intervals, of course.

Popular dishes for a smörgåsbord include bowls of pickled herring served with rye and crispbread, beetroot and apple salad, meatballs, pâtés, and different types of cured and smoked salmon.


Fish

You probably already know that our most popular fish is herring. We eat it pickled, but also smoke and fry it. Scandinavian varieties of pickled herring are less sharp than what you'll find elsewhere in Europe, as the brine is sweeter.

Any kind of cured or smoked salmon is also loved. Gravadlax (dill-cured salmon) is probably the most famous of these. Smoked mackerel is also served, as are less commonly known fish such as Arctic charr.

Sweden celebrates the crayfish in August, with outdoor parties where we eat bowls of them washed down with aquavit.


Meat

Pork is an important meat in southern Scandinavia. Flæskesteg pork roast, eaten with a heavy gravy and caramelised potatoes, is as Danish as roast beef is British - and is also the quintissential Danish Christmas lunch. Further north, game such as reindeer and elk is served - and it's not difficult to find bear sausage in some places. Northern Norwegians eat a lot of smoked, dried lamb.

Of course, we can't discuss meat without mentioning meatballs. There must be tens of thousands of different recipes - actually, that's probably a vast underestimation.

In Sweden, a mixture of pork and beef is usually prepared, whereas Danes prefer pork and veal. In Norway, there's more regional variation, but beef is popular. In Sweden, meatballs are small - and in Norway, they're big. If you're going to learn how to make meatballs, you'll need to find a good, basic recipe and then put your own spin on it.

Across Scandinavia, meatballs are usually served with potatoes, either boiled or mashed. If you're looking for a Swedish or Norwegian twist, add a dollop of lingonberry jam. But all leftover meatballs are great in sandwiches.

 

Sweetness

Scandinavian baking is getting a lot of attention in the UK right now, and you're probably aware that cinnamon is an important factor in our cakes and buns. Cardamom is just as popular as well.

Kanelbullar - cinnamon buns - are massive in Sweden (and, of course, the dough sometimes has notes of cardamom). A cinnamon bun can be eating morning, noon and night - usually with coffee. In Denmark, Danish pastries are the thing, you might be surprised to learn. But they're called wienerbrød there - 'Vienna bread'. If you've never eaten a Danish Danish pastry, then go to a bakery there on a Sunday morning and buy a smørsnegl. It's a taste like no other.

Other favourites include kladdkaka, a sticky Swedish chocolate cake, and anything packed with fruit and berries.

 

Bread

While we have the same word for bread as you do (brød in Denmark and Norway, bröd in Sweden), our loaves are quite different. We love rich, dark rye in any shape or form. Rye bread, rye buns, and rye grain thrown into many different dishes.

Crispbread is delicious and healthy - and not the same as what you buy in the supermarket here in the UK. Check out the vast variety that we sell in the shop.

Bread can also be a sweet treat - try vörtbröd, limpa or franskbrød.

 

The scary stuff

Yes, we admit it. Some of those horror stories you've heard about Nordic food are quite true. And if you want to give them a go, we can help.

Surströmming is Swedish fermented herring, popular in the far north where crayfish aren't as plentiful in the summer. It actually tastes amazing, but smells really bad. We advise you to open the tin outside.

Lutfisk is cod preserved in lye, and eaten in Norway at Christmas. To British eyes it looks a bit like tripe. It's on sale during the festive season.

Hákarl is Icelandic fermented shark, buried for weeks and hung for months. It's the very definition of 'an acquired taste', and not on sale in the UK. Sadly or happily, that's for you to decide!



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