What do you think of when you think of the food of Sweden? How about Norway? What defines the food of Denmark? ICE Recreational Chef Instructor Vicki J. Caparulo began ICE’s Modern Scandinavian Cuisine class by discussing how to define the flavor profile of a cuisine, “When I talk about tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, the cuisine you associate these flavors with is Italy. And scallions, ginger and soy sauce associate with China.” To us Americans, Scandinavia, which refers to the cultural-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, is best known for its flavorful gravlax and iconic meatballs. But Scandinavia’s flavor profile goes far beyond salmon and dill. Caraway, vinegar, licorice, root vegetables, foraged berries, fatty fish and gamey meats round out this intriguing cuisine. We broke into groups and began to prepare ten authentic recipes using these flavors in uniquely Scandinavian ways.
Our meal began with Chef Vicki pouring the class a drink of aquavit, a clear, caraway-flavored liquor which is Latin for “water of life.” In Scandinavia, drinking aquavit during a meal is a formal procedure known as snaps. For this traditional ritual, the host pours shots of the liquor and leads songs before the drink is taken. Luckily, we had some Swedes in class to help sing. Swedish-born siblings Magda and Gustav, along with their mother, led us in a snapsvisa, a traditional Scandinavian drinking song. Between snaps we snacked on a delicious smoked salmon tartare.
For dinner we enjoyed a Kale Salad with Pickled Red Onions, Goat Cheese and Pickled Beets over Endive, Roast Quail with Red Currant Jelly Sauce, Grilled Veal Chops with Lingonberry Reduction; Braised Red Cabbage, Heirloom Beans with Leeks, Sweet Potato Dumplings, and, what Scandinavian meal wouldn’t be complete without Swedish Meatballs? We washed the meal down with ice-cold Carlings and finished with a delicious Licorice Ganache-Glazed Chocolate Cake.
It was fascinating to experience this über-popular cuisine and learn how to bring the flavors into my own kitchen. If you are looking to enjoy Scandinavian snaps at home, you can whip up this traditional tartare and pour your friends some chilled shots of aquavit. Finishing the shot with a swig of beer is optional).
Smoked Salmon Tartare with Horseradish, Dill & Pomegranate Syrup
3/4 pound sliced smoked salmon
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons drained capers, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish, or more to taste
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Makes 6 servings as an appetizer
Finely mince the salmon. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Adjust seasoning as needed. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with waffle potato chips.
This can be prepared up to a day ahead, and kept chilled before serving.