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Fishy Tales from across the Kattegat.

Yule festivities in Nordic countries means herring, lutfisk and pork amongst other appetising goodies. I have mastered Brantevik, a delicious cured herring dish, and the pork is easy as we can buy pure bred Slow Food Ark of Taste Linderöd that is succulent and flavoursome. But lutfisk is a whole other ball game!

In the far north of Scotland we have wet and dry salt cod that are on the Ark of Taste and in Sweden it is lutfisk. I had seen these

giant fillets of ling at the local market, sticking out of a barrel like wooden planks at a timberyard. I had given them a prod, yes definitely wooden, and passed them by, deciding I would stick to fine-tuning Scandi cooking I could master!

Winter in Småland is beautiful: frost roses and mantles of snow; black woodpeckers, nuthatches, long-tailed tits and a range of hungry garden birds jockeying for position on the bird table, and lots of home cooking. When friends called to ask us for dinner we looked forward to having a good catch up and putting the world of food to rights.

These friends both happen to be accomplished chefs so we knew dinner would be delicious – but I hadn’t anticipated my first ever lutfisk! I couldn’t imagine a better place to taste it! What fun we had talking food whilst I followed them around the kitchen, watching every step of the procedure.

The fish had been soaked in a special way for almost 2 weeks before being poached as you would fresh fish, giving it a very delicate flavour and mildly jellied texture. It is vital (indeed almost a religion) to serve the correct accompaniments: béchamel sauce, Skånsk Mustard, peas and boiled potatoes.

Other delicacies on the night were home-fermented vegetables, smoked rabbit, and panna cotta to finish – we were thoroughly spoilt! It was fantastic to see them again, the lutfisk was incredible and we loved it. We look forward to seeing them again soon…although goodness knows what I shall cook…perhaps a cloutie dumpling?!

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