Gravad lax Christmas tradition 2016

Regardless of how inventive and creative we usually feel during the year, come Christmas and long evenings while approaching the winter solstice in Sweden, you start wanting those old-fashioned dishes. There is something comforting with the very routines in the traditional preparations that you for sure know goes back into the earliest recesses of Nordic history. You can almost see the Vikings sitting in the long boats out at sea, sharing a piece of pickled (gravad) salmon and saying things like -Pass the Mjöd, Sven … and, well, who wouldn’t have wanted to be there with them on their way to pursue their peaceful trading traditions of olden days.

Dill, an essential to gravad lax.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro, Sweden 2016

The recipe is very simple. One part salt and one part sugar and an handful of chopped up dill. Put under pressure for a couple of days. Done. Traditionally a 6lbs canon ball is fine. Continue reading “Gravad lax Christmas tradition 2016”

Gravlax – Swedish food in the raw

Gravlax sandwich

This Swedish specialty – the salt, sugar and dill cured salmon – these days internationally known under its original Swedish name gravlax or gravad lax, is served with a dill and mustard sauce and is prepared completely without any actual cooking.
Photo © J E Nilsson and C M Cordeiro-Nilsson for CMC 2010

Reading up on the latest food trends, I see that the Californian raw food is getting back in the cool stream of things with the idea of no heat, no cooking. The concept is today, spreading as an ecological trend and with the addition of ‘raw’ as in unrefined and unpolished that refers to back to basic foods. Like raw elk. With the horns on. Or, at least that was how I initially read it, and was admittedly not very impressed.

Personally I appreciate gourmet cooking as the ultimate in good handicraft and I see no point in flairs, fashions and useless embellishments. I have eaten my share of culinary creations that don’t taste good and combinations of flavours that just don’t work together, and have a healthy appreciation for the chefs that actually know what they are cooking, and don’t just combine textures and colours on a whim.

That we ever got stuck with the useless aspects of gourmet cooking is actually the fault of numerous cooking competitions where taste is only judged as one of several aspects of good cooking and not even the most important. In my view, taste should be ranked appropriately much higher than for example, the even thickness of slices or whether the display table has four equal legs.
Continue reading “Gravlax – Swedish food in the raw”

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Julebord at ROAST Tromsø Scandic Ishavshotel

Eyes on the view of the harbour that is just outside our table by the window at ROAST Tromsø. We were there for a traditional North Norwegian Christmas table sitting. ROAST restaurant is located at Scandic Ishavshotel, at Fredrik Langes Gate 2.
Text & Photo © JE Nilsson & CM Cordeiro 2018

This would be my first jultide spent in Northern Norway. It was mentioned several times in the course of various conversations had that the long Norwegian coastline has given rise to slight variations of culinary traditions and Norwegian culture within the country. And I could expect it to be much different from the culinary traditions of the Christmas tables in Gothenburg, along the Swedish west coast. As such, I was curious about the Northern Norwegian julebord or Christmas table. How different is it from the Swedish west coast julbord?

Continue reading “Julebord at ROAST Tromsø Scandic Ishavshotel”

A Christmas dinner 2013

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JE Nilsson, who has researched and written about 1700s Swedish food,
was happy to play Santa ‘Chef de Cuisine’.

Text & Photo © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro 2013

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Selecting first class produce is the key to all good cooking.
Here, we were planning a new orange and honey glazed spare ribs dish,
looking at blood oranges flown in from Italy.

By December every year as the days grow shorter and shorter, it is fun to spend time in the kitchen, planning and cooking Scandinavian classics, trying to recreate inherited recipes from days long gone past. The old fashioned dishes and the manners in which they are prepared, usually involve a lot of time consuming manual work, but nonetheless worth the effort in terms of rediscovering what has been and making it current again.

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Gravad lax is maybe one of the oldest dishes on the traditional Swedish Christmas table.
Today it is pickled with a mixture of salt, sugar, pepper and a generous helping of freshly cut dill.

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Once done, it is ideally eaten with a honey mustard sauce.

Continue reading “A Christmas dinner 2013”

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Swedish Christmas tradition in its julbord: Sjömagasinet 2009

Cheryl Marie Cordeiro Nilsson, Sjömagasinet 2009, julbord, Christmas table

Dining at Sjömagasinet’s Christmas table or julbord.
Outfit is a Karen Millen tartan dress.

Photo for CMC © JE Nilsson, CM Cordeiro Nilsson 2009

It’s funny how impressions of festivities change with time the longer you’ve been in the place. When I first arrived in Sweden, slightly more than 7 years ago, I thought it strange that Swedes did not celebrate Christmas with quite the same pomp as Singapore. I rationalized that Singapore, as a multi-racial society, took pride in celebrating all festivities of its races with splendour, lighting up various parts of the city country, Geylang during Hari Raya and Orchard Road during Christmas for example, depending on the festivities, while Sweden being rather secular, played down Christmas as such.

Sjömagasinet, Christmas decoration, hanging tree, Gothenburg Sweden 2009

A silver and white Christmas tree suspended from the ceiling of the restaurant, Sjömagasinet.

I’ve found over the years though that contrary to what I believed at first, Sweden did indeed celebrate Christmas as much as Singapore, but in a manner that needed much observation and understanding of its people and culture – an aspect that one, with a quick visit to the country over a few days might wont to miss.

Sjömagasinet Christmas decoration, Gothenburg, Sweden, julbord

Christmas wreath and candles alongside the julbord.

Sweden celebrates Christmas with profound rootedness in the Swedish tradition with hand crafted frocks, decorations and not the least in the cooking of Swedish festive food.
Continue reading “Swedish Christmas tradition in its julbord: Sjömagasinet 2009”