International Dinner #31 Raw Fish and Finland

Finland and Raw Fish

Sunday, 2 September 2012

When Sam chose Finland, we knew exactly who we were going to turn to, to recommend our menu for the night. My wife has had a penfriend from Finland since she was about 12, and even managed to visit her in 2000 when we went to Europe for a couple of months. So Anne, our sincere thanks go out to you for your help and “inside” knowledge in preparing our menu!

Ingredients were not hard to find, we are both countries surrounded by water at similar distances from our respective poles, so fresh fish was not hard to find.

Sam and I went shopping and we finished in record time, most of the ingredients we had in house, it was really just the meats and fresh cream and extra dill that we needed – so we had a bit more time to sit down and talk over our fortnightly muffin and coffee.

GraavilohiKermainen kirjolohikeittoSuomalaisruisleipä—————————————
Graavilohi ( Salt, dill and pepper cured salmon)
Kermainen kirjolohikeitto (Creamy salmon soup)
Suomalaisruisleipä (Rye Bread)

Let’s start with the dish that required the least cooking. Food prep started on Friday morning as the Graavilohi (more commonly known here by its Swedish name Gravlax) needed a few days absorb the flavours. Lots of dill, some salt and some white pepper, set in the fridge and come back two days later – done… simple – moving on!

I love a good rye bread and this was a nice simple rye bread to make, and I’ll be making it again. A mix of rye and wholemeal flour, and brushed with melted butter as soon as you take it out of the oven. Before it was cooked we left it to rise a second time inside the warm car (you should know my technique by now!) and when the boys and I went back to check it an hour or so later it was way more than doubled in size, it was rising right out the top of the bread tin which had the boys laughing hard, so quick it went into the oven – once again – the bread was super popular with the boys.

And lastly the soup. We’re coming toward the end of the cold weather here, but a soup is still welcome as it’s still brisk in the evenings. The recipe made quite a bit of soup, and while I didn’t think the boys would be gulping this down – I hoped they might try some of it. We have given them salmon in the past except it was called “pink chicken” – it worked about twice before they decided “pink chicken” was not something they liked as much as normal chicken… well it was worth a try. Ryan loves celery, so he had some of the celery from the soup, and I thought the fact it had cream in it might convince Sam, (the boy that used to have a dairy allergy that now loves cream, but still drinks rice milk).

Sam did strap on his adventurous hat and try a small bit of the Graavilohi (I was really proud of his for that – Ray fish is a big ask for a kid), but wasn’t all that keen, I think it was the texture more than the flavour – so I had his helpings… 😉

Sam’s Rating: 0/10
Sam’s Rating: 0/10
Sam’s Rating: 10/10


Karjalanpaisti ( Beef, Pork, Lamb hot pot)
served with Mashed Potato and cranberry sauce

This looked like a good hearty, simple dish. With a mixture of beef, lamb and pork it had a good range of meats, some spices and and onions and carrots, all cooked in the oven for 3 hours. The meat absolutely melted in your mouth after 3 hours cooking. Known as a Karelian Roast, or Karelian Hot Pot in english, I had to look up Karelian to find out something about it – it originates from a region called Karelia now split between Finland and Russia (see! Educational as well!)

Served with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. The cranberry sauce was good as it added a little acidity  to the strongly meaty flavour of the stew. The boys had no problem finishing off their meat, and while they normally eat carrots, they normally have them steamed, and not as soft – they had also absorbed a lot of the juices from the meats, so were a different flavour than they were used to. So the meat got the thumbs up – but the carrots – not so much…

Sam’s Rating: 9/10

Omenapiirakka ja vaniljajäätelöOmenapiirakka ja vaniljajäätelö

Omenapiirakka ja vaniljajäätelö ( Apple flan and vanilla ice cream)

I had my little helper for this one, Sam was really keen to help with the dessert. We called it apple pie, but the base and lack of pastry makes it more like a flan. The base dough was more like a batter, which took no time to make, cinnamon abounds – which you’d expect in an apple dish! Sam tried his hand at peeling the apples (Granny Smiths, they have the nice tart flavour for dishes like this). Then we sliced the apples nice and thinly, tossed them in cinnamon and sugar, and Sam arranged them on top of the batter. We then sprinkled a little more cinnamon for good measure – voila – Sam was extremely proud of his handiwork – I think he did a great job.

30-odd minutes cooking and dessert was ready, double helpings for everyone – and no leftovers for me the next day… never mind I had plenty of the soup left for lunch…

Sam’s Rating: X-Infinity / Infinity

All in all a very successful meal, we didn’t expect the boys to be into the raw salmon, but it was interesting for them to see that not all meat has to be cooked, and there was no hesitation from them over the stewed meat, which is good, that would have cause a major ‘kafuffle’ a year ago. Alright – onward to the next country – Ryan, you’re up!


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