...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Food journal number 22: Matjessill and Dill

More summer food coming right up!

Matjessill (translated as soused herring, shown here in mild- and stong- flavored variants), is a usual midsummer food and served with new potatoes, and sour cream with chives.

I know I wrote about herring just recently, but this type (soused herring or matjessill) is not to be confused with the pickled herring (inlagd sill) of the earlier food journal. They have two notable differences, the first one being that soused herring is not marinaded with other ingredients or complicated flavors but is pickled only in brine. The second difference is that soused herring is not a Swedish dish to begin with, but Dutch. The Dutch had developed this way of preserving fish in the middle ages, and the herring for the process was usually caught at the end of May just before mating season (when they were the fattiest), which probably accounts for the Dutch name maatjesharing, which translates to "maiden herring". Nowadays, the process involves freezing the fish to -45 C (to keep parasites at bay) before keeping them in oak casks filled with brine for about 5 days. Wiki also says that an important part of the process involves leaving the fish's pancreas intact during the pickling, the reason for which was not explained.

Because the soused herring is not preserved in ättika, it's not sour as picked herring. Rather, it's just.. well, fishy (but not as fishy as the German counterpart apparently, as many articles report). The fish is also more or less salty beause of the brine, and may sometimes be (as they are here in Sweden,) have some other taste to it, like cinnamon and other spices. I think the new potatoes and the works are nescessary to enjoy the dish; otherwise you would literally be eating raw fish on its own, and that dosn't exactly sound like a lip-smacking idea unless you're a cat... But wait... do cats have lips?

That green herby stuff around this smoked regnbågslax (rainbow trout) is dill. We ate this dish at the end of May with some new potatoes and a sour cream sauce, in celebration of the final version of Karin's MA thesis that I helped to edit.

Dill, an herb, deserves a summer food journal too. The new potatoes that I talked about the last time, are usually boiled with a bunch of dill for extra taste, and since new potatoes are a must to eat in this season, dill is now also finding its way into all grocery promotional magazines. Karin's mom, who tipped us on how to prepare the regnbågslax, even emphasized that we couldn't boil the potatoes without dill... it's simply not done! :-)

Potatoes or no potatoes, dill goes well with fish and seafood dishes. For example, it is used as one of the main ingredients for the preparation of buried salmon, and is also one of the components for high-end shrimp-and-roe sandwiches. It also makes good edible decoration to smoked fish such as our regnbågslax pictured above, which could well have been midsummer food. The English translation for the fish by the way is rainbow trout. However, as trouts belong in the salmonoid family, they are sold commercially (and as others say, deceivingly) as rainbow "salmon" (regnbågslax).

Despite its origins actually beng Asian, dill has become a very "Swedish" herb due to the frequency in which it features in Swedish cuisine. The local chips brand Estrella found another use for the herb too, as dill chips. The chips taste like onion chips -- or rather, like sour cream and onion flavor without the sour cream. It's still a nice change from the Grill- or Pepper chips that we usually buy, though. They're probably good for dipping in, uh, the sour cream that wasn't there. Oh, and did I mention that dill was apparently good for curbing flatulence? Dill-ightful!

Okay, that's it for June blogging (so that you can keep up, Cheryl, heheh)! ... I better leave some ideas out for the next months too, y'know!

2 Comments:

Blogger Ishtar said...

I love the way you present the food! Are they your own pictures?

Cheers, Ishtar

1:49 PM

 
Blogger Ahoy! said...

Yeah, I love food! It's nice to try out "strange" food too, and one of the incentives is that I could blog about it, heheh :-)

I try to take most of the pictures in the blog myself, except when I can't -- like the picture of ABBA and the Swedish map graphic from a few entries back (So, the answer to your question is yes!) :-)

...that also means that I had bought the Estrella Dill Chips (partly) for the food blog. As you can see, eating is a nice excuse to blog and blogging is a nice excuse to eat!

9:54 PM

 

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