...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Food journal number 57: Skaldjursfrossa, with a recipe for Västerbottenpaj

Skaldjursfrossa – a happy Swedish word. The mouth, which opens for the first syllable, puckers as if for a kiss for the second, and the two last vowels jump out of the mouth with a joyful intonation. True enough, the mouth also puckers and lets out sighs during a skaldjursfrossa. The word means a seafood feast –literally "seafood reveling".

The eating of seafood, especially crustaceans, are quite special events here as the price of fresh seafood is quite high. The last Friday of September, with its start-of-autumn weather, was our backdrop to the seafood feast. Margareta had the idea of buying crustaceans home instead of eating them out, and invited us to our own little seafood party in their home.

We had havskräftor, or Norway lobster, boiled plain (in Sweden, they are called "ocean crayfish" but this is a misnomer; they are related to lobster more than they are to crayfish). These were normal-sized and thus much, much larger than the frozen Norway lobster which we baked during the crayfish season. Even for being a lobster though, don't expect its tail to be bigger than a thumb. It's thumb-sized pure seafood goodness! (I'm humming to the tune of "Les Poissons").

Another yummy creature in the buffet are these crabs from the west coast of Sweden. They translate to Wikipedia as "edible crab" (sometimes also "Cromer crab") and live in the Atlantic. Their shells are darker and thicker than the crabs I'm used to from the Pacific. The Atlantic crabs' arms are hairier, and their bodies are almost pure fat, except for the areas around the arms and the arms and claws themselves. Lovers of crab fat – a delicacy that can be bought in bottles from the Philippines – will love this.

We also had shrimp. Though medium-sized, they really are shrimps, figuratively, in comparison to the size of other crustaceans out there.

Some differences between how Filipinos and Swedes prefer to eat their seafood are the sauces and the side dishes. In the Philippines, cloudy vinegar is the preferred dip to boiled crustaceans, and they are eaten with rice, the steamier the better (crab fat with rice is a major yum, by the way). In Sweden, there is a dill- and mustard-based seafood sauce, and it is not uncommon to eat seafood with some kind of vegetable or cheese quiche ("paj"). Mats whipped up that seafood sauce in the small footed bowl in the above pictures. The quiche, which you see in the background, is a cheese quiche out of a special Swedish cheese called Västerbottensost, baked by Margareta.

Västerbottensost is a cheese has traditions from the second half of the 19th century. It is cooked and stirred in its vat for a longer time and ripens for 18 months, resulting in a strong taste. Västerbottenpaj is also a classic autumn quiche and can be made with chanterelles (another autumn delicacy). And because I can't make seafood from scratch, here's a recipe of the Västerbottenpaj to round up this post:


10-12 slices

2.5 dl flour
1 dl grahams flour
150 g butter
2 T cold water
whisked egg for brushing

4 dl milk
2 dl cream
350 g grated vAsterbottensost
6 eggs
black pepper

1. Heat the oven to 200 C.
2. Combine the two kinds of flour, salt, and cut the cold butter into the mixture until it resembles crumbs, preferably with a food processor. Add the water and knead quickly into a dough.
3. Press the dough into a pie form, ca. 28 cm in diameter. Make high edges. Set aside in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.
4. When the 30 minutes are done, whisk up the egg and brush the unbaked crust with it. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, take the crust out and take the temperature down to 150 C.
4. Heat milk and cream in a large pot, and take away from heat. Add the grated cheese and stir until it melts. Stir in the 6 other whisked eggs – they will not coagulate, surprisingly enough. Add salt and pepper to taste, and pour the filling into the pre-baked crust.
5. Bake again for 45 minutes.

Serve with seafood! :-)

Thanks again, Margareta and Mats, for all that seafood yuminess!


Blogger Leplume said...

Sooo hungry now!! :)

5:33 AM

Anonymous Lara said...

joy, how is your family? i know they live in an elevated area in manila. i hope theyre alright.

11:17 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Hej Lara! For the first time ever, flood water got in our garage in Quezon City! It didn't go in the house itself though, but very near it - Mom said that if the water was an inch higher, it would have gotten in our first floor. She and my dad lifted stuff from the first floor to the second (my sister who used to live with them is in Bangkok now). They're okay. I can't help thinking of my friends who live in Marikina / Cainta and other low areas though. :-(

5:36 PM


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