Sunday, September 21, 2008


No recipe today, sorry. It's a quarter past one in the morning, and I only just arrived in my small room in Munich. Tomorrow, I'll pack up all my belongings, and then I'm moving to another small room only a few blocks away. Then, I go back to Sweden to work some more. Not exactly the Oktoberfest vacation most people associate with Munich this time of year, but c'est la vie, eh?

After a year in Munich, and then a couple of months in Sweden, I've reflected a bit about the two cities I call home. Munich and Stockholm have so many differences, yet there are some key similarities, too. For lack of a better word, I'd like to say that both cities have a distinctly career-y feeling. Lots of business people running around talking in their mobiles, expensive apartments, loads of IT firms, salad bars and €4 cups of caffe latte. Both cities have a decent night life, yet neither is a never-sleeping vibrant party metropolis like Berlin or Amsterdam.

But I think the thing that most unites Stockholm and Munich is that despite their size (both in the range of a million inhabitants), they're not exactly super-urban. Both have large green areas, and also a distinctly greener feel than many cities. The first thing I saw when I got off the subway where I live was a hedgehog. And honestly, where else but Munich would you find a herd of sheep in the city park?


So... itchy...


... oh noes!

Again, I'm sorry there's no recipe here. I was going to write one up, but I had a layover in Shithole Schiphol airport, so I'm going to bed instead.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pasta with Shrimp Saffron Sauce


On my todo list for my stay in Sweden, "eat fish and shellfish" is way up on the very top. I love seafood, and it's impossible to find decent quality fish at reasonable prices in Munich. So, I'm trying to binge on it while I'm here in Stockholm, as evidenced by the marine blog posts of late.

This pasta sauce was one of those divine inspiration moments that came while we were browsing our supermarket trying to come up with a dinner plan. We realized that we had a bag of frozen shrimp at home, and fresh pasta was on sale. A match made in heaven, when combined with a creamy creme fraiche sauce and seasoned with saffron and some chili. The idea for the ad hoc shrimp stock (I couldn't help but use that rhyme) comes from one of my mother's staple recipes, a great shrimp curry sauce called Tages räkcurry.

Pasta with Shrimp Saffron Sauce
Serves 3.

The simple shrimp stock from this recipe is also great in fish/shellfish soups or sauces to serve with fish. It's a waste to ever throw shrimp shells away, when it's so easy to create a great stock for future purposes. Like any stock, it also keeps well when frozen in ice cube trays.

250 g fresh tagliatelle or linguine
700 g of unshelled shrimp
250 ml creme fraiche
0.5 Tbsp flour or 1 tsp starch
1 red onion
1 clove of garlic
1 fresh chili pepper
0.5 g saffron
olive oil for frying
salt, pepper, lemon juice for seasoning

Shell the shrimps, and save the shells in a pot. Set shrimp aside. Almost cover the shrimp shells with water, then bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain the shells off, pour the stock back into the pot and reduce to about 350 ml.

Start heating up your pasta water, and don't forget to cook your pasta in time (what time is "in time" of course depends on if you're using fresh pasta as recommended).

While the stock is reducing, finely chop the onion and garlic clove. Trim all the white stuff and seeds from the chili, then chop it finely. Heat a pan to medium low heat, add a splash of olive oil, then slowly fry the onion, garlic and chili for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add flour, give it a stir and then add half of the stock and the saffron. Stir in creme fraiche and bring to a boil. Let simmer for a few minutes, then check the consistency and add more stock or creme fraiche if necessary. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add the shrimp and serve over your pasta.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Pan-fried Herring on Crisp Bread


Herring has been an important staple of Swedish cooking for a very long time. The Swedish working class used to subsist almost exclusively on salted herring and potatoes, with the occasional pickled herring when it was party time. Due to its importance, herring holds a special place in the food culture of Sweden. This recipe is one of the most beloved, but luckily also one of the simplest. If you're ever in Stockholm, you can buy these sandwiches at the square by Slussen. The only tricky part about the recipe is finding the right type of herring. Or perhaps, finding herring at all, depending on where you live.

You see, herring comes in many styles, depending on its origin. The version used here is the smaller and leaner Baltic herring (the subspecies Clupea harengus membras), fished in the Baltic sea off the east cost of Sweden. This type of herring is known as strömming in Swedish, while the larger and fatter herring used for pickling is called sill.

Pan-fried herring on crisp bread
If you prefer, you could serve these with mashed potatoes and a sour cream dip, but do try them with crisp bread at least once. If you have a hard time finding decent crisp bread, try IKEA, who usually carry crisp bread from Leksand. Avoid Wasa if alternatives exist.

1 kg of fresh herring fillets
a large bunch of parsley
bread crumbs


Remove the back fins from the fillets, if present, wipe them dry with kitchen towels, then match them up in pairs of roughly equal size.


Chop the parsley, and place a generous amount between each pair of fillets. As you can see, frozen parsley is fine too.


Pour bread crumbs on a plate and coat each fillet pair with a generous amount of crumbs.


Get your local nationalist butter...


...and place a big knob of it in a hot skillet.


Then fry the fillets for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.


Now get your best crisp bread. This particular brand is produced in a community of treehuggers in Järna, south of Stockholm. They also sell their own flour, beans and lentils, all of which is great produce.


Spread some butter on the bread, place a couple of fried fillets on it, and you're done! Serve with a cool beer or a glass of cold milk.