The scandinavian food trend is one that has been making considerable waves on the British food scene since its initial invasion 2 – 3 years ago. Steeped in its Nordic ancestry, the Scandinavian cuisine draws on three geographical influences, mainly being the food habits of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Although all three low-lying neighbours are to be held responsible for rich and complicated political, linguistic and cultural history, the Scandi cuisine has been enriched by their varying and diverse geographical and social contacts.
Although each country prides themselves on distinct national dishes, there is one overriding similarity to all three of these Nordic countrys’ cuisines; simplicity. Making the most of their rich soils, harsh winters and extensive coastlines, Scandinavia has developed a palate that simply places unadulterated onus on just a handful of stunning ingredients. Placing complete prominence on a couple of well produced, quality ingredients, is something I look to promote in my own recipes, using West Country produce in its purest form. This therefore makes Scandinavian cookery the perfect inspiration to draw on.
With a traditional diet of foraged plants, wild meat, seafood, root vegetables and whole grains, Nordic food often draws on ancestral traditions of food preservation in everyday cooking and is very much commonplace in convivial eating. Pickled vegetables and cured fish are typical additions to Smorgasbord (traditional Nordic buffet table), methods introduced by the Vikings that have swiftly become the defining traits of Scandinavian fare.
One dish popular to these turbulent shores is herring and beetroot salad. Particularly abundant on the west and east coasts of Sweden, herring is traditionally served in its cured form as soused herring. However, the combination of salty herring and sweet beetroot married together in a creamy mayonnaise has to be one of the simplest yet most beautifully balanced dishes to come out of Scandinavia.
With this in mind and a desperate desire to catch the end of the British mackerel season, this weeks recipe looks to place a Saxon twist on a staple Scandinavian recipe; Mackerel and beetroot open sandwich
Using deliciously rich, sweet and malty rye as the perfect bread base, and topped generously with the creamy mackerel and beetroot salad, this open sandwich is finished with a delicious crisp-skinned mackerel fillet. A little apple is added for sweetness and acidity, as well as dill, lemon and capers for vibrancy, freshness and bite.
Ideally get your hands on sweet smoked mackerel in an attempt to achieve a more authentically sweet salad, and of course source your fresh mackerel from a local, sustainable source where possible. And don’t forget to look for bright eyes and vibrant scales when in search of the freshest possible fish!
Even if its just the Scandinavian food, us Anglos have a lot to thank our long horned, bearded brothers for! Nordic nosh is slowly becoming one of the continent’s most recognised cuisine – and justified on every level!
- 150g sweet smoked mackerel
- 150g cooked beetroot, cubed
- 1 small apple
- 2 spring onions
- 1 tbsp creme fraiche
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- Bunch of dill
- salt and pepper
- 1 lemon
- 2 mackerel fillets
- Dash of oil
- Handful capers
- Rye bread, two thick-cut slices
- Shred the smoked mackerel into a bowl and add the cubed beetroot. Core and dice the apple as well as finely chopping the onions – add to the bowl. Spoon in the creme fraiche and mayonnaise before roughly chopping and stirring through a handful of dill. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon zest and juice. Set aside.
- Prepare two thick slices of rye bread and place ready under the grill. Season the mackerel fillets both sides before heating a little oil in a non-stick frying pan. Allow the oil to get hot before careful placing the fish, skin side down, in the pan. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes, until the skin is crisp and golden, before flipping and cooking for a further 2 – 3 minutes – at this point lightly toast your bread.
- In the last minute of cooking, add a handful of capers and a squeeze of lemon to the pan. Remove from heat and assemble the sandwich. Place the toast on the plate before generously spooning on the smoked mackerel and beetroot salad. Top with the mackerel fillet, skin side up and sprinkle with a little extra dill and lemon zest. Serve with a little green salad.