Friday, October 30, 2009

Thinkin' Bout Smoked Salmon

Today I got to thinking about a cuisine I crave a lot but rarely cook or eat.  Scandinavian food.  Being an American of mostly Norwegian decent, many of the dishes of my youth and childhood, both on my mother's and father's sides, were Norse.  As I sit here with my Swedish cookbook on my lap, flipping longingly through the pages, I'm reminded of a rhyme I learned as a child:

   "Ten thousand Swedes ran through the weeds chased by one Norwegian..." 

Be that as it may, the most accessible source of Scandinavian food I've found so far in SoCal is the wonderful Swedish organization IKEA. Every time I go there I feel like it's the holidays. It's a guilty pleasure. I love it. If anyone knows of any more restaurants or markets where I can get my Norwegian food on in LA without having to wait for the Sons of Norway dinner in Van Nuys in November, I'd be grateful.

For those of you not familiar with Norway, or Norwegian food, Norway is a long thin country up near the Arctic Circle.  Its rocky coast line winds and twists on forever, and the growing season is understandably short.  As a result, preservation and rationing are everything.  Scandinavian food is simple and rich in seafood, pickled herring, smoked salmon, dried salted cod, salty fish pastes.  I'd love to share with you all the simple flavorful dishes I'm really jones-ing for right now, like the infamous lutfisk, but I'll start you slow. ;)  Here are two recipes to begin your introduction to the Scandinavian flavors I love.  They're both simple-surprise surprise!- so get out there and taste something new!  Both these recipes are simple, beautiful, and a little bit hoity-toity due to the seafood and so can be easily modified to make perfect appetizers.

A Special Breakfast for Us Norwegian Kids: Bagles and Lox

2 Plain Bagles
4 oz. Cream Cheeze
4 oz. Smoked Salmon
Capers or Sliced Onions, if desired

Half the bagels.  Toast or warm bagel halves in the microwave.  Spread one ounce of room temperature cream cheese on each bagel half.  Top with one ounce of smoked salmon (and capers or onions if desired).

Makes 4 servings.

*Use mini-bagels and garnish with fresh dill to make appetizers.

Here's Swedish lox recipe modified from the Swedish Cooking NGV cookbook, simplified for everyday use.

Gravad Lax Med Hovmastarsas

8 Rye Crisps (Wasa or similar brand)
4-5 oz. Smoked Salmon (moist)
1/4 c. Honey Mustard Sauce (not honey mustard)
1 Bunch Finely Chopped Fresh Dill

Stir the chopped dill into the honey mustard sauce. Pile each of the rye crisps with a 1/2 oz slice of the smoked salmon and the mustard sauce drizzled to taste.  

*Break rye crisps in half before topping (or buy a large wheel of rye crisp bread and break into pieces) and top with a sprig of fresh dill to make appetizers.

Enjoy! And like I said, simple!

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