Ethnic Cooking - Finland
Is there anyone out there interested in the food of Finland? I'm not even sure if this is the right board, but "International" seemed to have nothing to do with home cooking. I'd be interested to talk to anyone with a Finnish cooking background or interest. Specifically, I am looking for tips on making viilia, mammia, and discussing some of the cultural aspects of Finnish dining. You'd think, my living in Minnesota and growing up a Finn, that I'd have more of a food community in this regard. Sadly, most of the recipes and discussion is about the baking of sweets, i.e. coffeebreads. Anyone love smoked reindeer and know of a source? Anyone know about long or short viili? Anyone in Mpls/St.Paul know of a great crayfish source?
My son is fifth generation Finn from mostly around Astoria / Warrenton / Seaside Oregon. Grandma lived to be 97 and her mom to be 93 - their main house was in the Uniontown part of Astoria a place where lots of Finns hung out here on the West Coast. I hunted and fished with my grandparents and dad on family land most of my life making all kinds of delicacies from the land. Deer, elk, ducks, fish, crayfish, grouse, quail, ... My dad is a dual Finn / US Citizen and he goes over there once in a while. I have many contacts in Finland who I am able to communicate with. Do also have friends in your MN area as well as many Finns there. My grandma was born in upper peninsula MI.
When I get hungry for crayfish I find a non-polluted stream and put my traps in. We always had our own crawdad traps and used fish bones we got bait free from the local fish store - bones with a few scraps of meat mostly. Knowing where the water flows is the trick to getting ones you will want to eat. The critters hang out in the worst of the worst in town and you do not wan to eat those ... even if you flush in a bucket for a few days. My grandma, a nurse for over 50 years, always said you have to boil it for at least 10 minutes to kill the stuff that could kill you - then would follow up with it is good to boil it 20 if you have the time to be safe. The crayfish I eat just barely get warmed sometimes as do not want them too tough so not enough time to kill bacteria. I eat mine from decent water up a local stream to where it is rain run off and not from a parking lot or road with car oil and stuff. You can possibly find your own source of crayfish close to your home if you think about where there is good water around where you live. Having a place close by is best as like to catch them and eat them fresh without delay as feel is best.
Lox / Gravlax is my favorite Finland dish and can share how I was taught by Finns to make if anyone is interested (I eat many ways while thin slices on hardtack with cream cheese is a nice breakfast on the go or snack we like with anything most anytime).
~ SMaki (Maki means 'hill' in Finland)
If unable to catch, possibly consider mail order crayfish if really crave. Noticed on PBS Create Avec Eric, when he cooked mud bugs on yesterdays show he said for those who can not catch can mail order from Louisiana. So did a search on CH and found several threads about mail order crayfish including:
Fixed my link above, but I'll repost here so everyone knows this is the correct link. Hope you find my blog interesting.
My husband is Finnish, but we live in the U.S. now. I've started a blog of the recipes I use as I cook Finnish food for the kids. I'll be making mämmi for Easter, I have the recipe ready. We also enjoyed making a lot of the traditional Christmas dishes. I take traditional recipes from the internet and my Finnish-language cookbooks, also. cookingfinland.blogspot.com
I'm a little late to this discussion, too. My husband is Finnish, but we live in the U.S. now. I've started a blog of the recipes I use as I cook Finnish food for the kids. I'll be making mämmi for Easter, I have the recipe ready. We also enjoyed making a lot of the traditional Christmas dishes. I take traditional recipes from the internet and my Finnish-language cookbooks, also. cookingfinland.blogspot.com
I'm Finnish, and have also lived in the US, so if you have any questions on Finnish food or food culture, I am happy to help.
First, I'd like to comment on what Finnish food is like. Finland is not a place like, for example, Thailand, where the local food culture dominates. For most Finns, dishes like spaghetti, chicken and rice, and salmon are very common day-to-day foods. That's why the more "Finnish" foods are things like baked goods or non-meal foods (like karjalanpiirrakka, carealian pie). When I think of "Finnish" food, I think foraged. So wild fish and berries are the essence of Finnish cuisine, but that is not the case for day-to-day food. However, Finns do eat a lot more berries than Americans, and wild fish is readily (and more cheaply) available than in the US, and is therefore eaten more.
Someone already mentioned this link before, but here I have posted the link to go straight to the ingredients site. I think this site does one of the best jobs of explaining Finnish ingredients, and how they differ from the ones found in the US. http://www.dlc.fi/~marianna/gourmet/i...
On that page you can also find links to internet shops where you can find Finnish ingredients. I have only used suomikauppa.fi which is unfortunately only in Finnish. If you have a particular ingredient you would like to find, I can look it up from this site and then send you the link, so that you can order it.
Here is a list of savory foods that you could try to make:
pea soup (hernekeitto): this is made with whole dried peas and is very easy to make, although you have to let it simmer for a few hours
salmon soup (lohikeitto): you can make this with any fish that hold up well
fried vendace (Coregonus albula = muikku) (paistetut muikut): pan fry this small fish whole until crispy, this can be eaten with mashed potatoes.
spinach pancakes (pinaattiletut, sing. pinaattilettu): this is one of the favorite food of Finnish children during school lunch and is pretty tasty for adults as well. I usually serve this as a first course, since it is quite light. Finns usually buy these, but they are far better if homemade. Serve with lingonberry jam. If you cannot find lingonberry jam, then eat them plain, or maybe with melted butter. This is meant to be savory, and sweet jams will not do.
You should also check out Finnish Christmas foods. Finns eat very particular food during Christmas, and these are more traditional than the day to day fair.
Another tip is to use Wikipedia as a dictionary. So type in lingonberry and then scroll down and click Suomi on the language list to translate into Finnish (Suomi = Finnish, Finland). Or do it the other way around. I have found this to be the best way to translate ingredients into Finnish, since there is no free comprehensive Finnish dictionary on the web.
Very late to this post, but thought I'd follow up anyway. I'm 1/2 Finnish (Mother grew up in Finland and left in her 20's) and travel there regularly, and speak some Finnish. I cook and bake Finnish foods (& many other things) & live in the Twin Cities area. I am also a bit opinionated wrt Finnish foods.
I'm a fan of Käkonen's book , somewhat Previdi's .... Ojakangas, not so much.
I have made a good mämmi , which is time consuming, but not too complicated. To make it right, you need mämmimailta, which is ground dried malted rye, not available at Northern Brewer (as of last month) but occasionally Eden Organic's version (malted rye syrup - their barley malt syrup is good too) is available in natural stores.
To make viili, you need the starter, and ideally un-homogenized milk, and to sterilize everything invlolved (more important if you want to keep it good for many generations - ie months - years). I make viili in wide-mouth half pint mason jars, washed in dishwasher just before making. This gives the delectable cream layer on top that you get in Finland when you buy the small containers...I still have one going from my trip to Finland this summer.... yum! I'm not sure it's long or short - but you can pour a whole blob and have it stay in 1 "piece"
Karjalanpiirakat really should be all rye, as mentioned above, with water or milk + melted butter dip. Strongly agree on egg butter comment.... yum!
Yes, Coastal Seafoods is the only reliably high quality seafood place in Twin Cities, and has crayfish at times - call ahead & ask.
All so called "Leipäjuusto" commercially available in Twin Cities area that I've tried (yes, I keep trying them) is WAY, WAY , WAY too salty (sold under many many names - ironically not the right one). There's a UW professor who has given out a recipe to cheese makers - I'm guessing no Finns are involved....
My kids especially love pulla, karjalanpiirakat and perunarieska (potato/barley flatbread) - they are universally wonderful. It is a wonder nobody commercially makes karjalanpiirakat, esp in Twin Cities - all who have tried them get addicted. Also reg make Joulutorttut (flaky sweet pastry pinwheels with prune filling).
I don't know of a smoked reindeer source in USA.
Haven't been to Finnish Bistro - wasn't impressed with Taste of Scandinavia
If you want a specific recipe or info, please let me know (not sure if anybody's looking!) and I'll try.
dachickenfarmer; I am currently in the throes of making my kids' faves of Finnish cooking for Christmas, but I would love to find out more from you on your sources for making mammia for Springtime. Care to share?
I absolutely agree with you on your statement:>>It is a wonder nobody commercially makes karjalanpiirakat, esp in Twin Cities - all who have tried them get addicted.<< We have now 2 baking days for karjalanpiirakoita, and will produce, I think 160 pies. Just for our greedy happy family!
I'd be happy to talk to you about the mammia sources! If not okay for the board, try firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like a good Finn, I've been slow about responding - basically because there is no good answer - i get my mämmimaltaita from Finland when I visit.... I have been intrigued by "malted rye" which I have seen in brewing stores, which sounds a lot like mämmimalaltaita....my (Finnish) mother (Aiti) made a wonderful , very Finnish, cabbage / lamb / venison soup this evening. ..From Käkonen's book - which is consistently the best (& hardest to find!) book on Finnish cooking - using natural ingredients when they traditionally are, and should be, used. Ojakangas dumbs it down & fattens it up, IMHO, when it doesn't need to be...I'm now craving karjalanpiirakoita!!!
Ingalbretsens in Mpls has Fenn Usto, Finnish squeeky cheese and Costal Seafood has crayfish. mhttp://www.indianvalleymeats.com/gourmet_mea... has mail order reindeer.
I am a Finn-Amercian chef living in the metro and love the bakery at The Finnish Bistro and admire Beatrice O. Glad to hear there there are more people intressted in our food and would love to open a restaurant in the north metro.
If you like finnish baking, then you should take a look at the TV series "Hei, me leivotaan" (hi, we're baking) http://www.heimeleivotaan.fi/tv/ . It's a show where parents and kids get together in the kitchen and bake all sorts of stuff. Nothing fancy, but sort fo fun, anyway.
I live in Finland, and like to cook quite a lot. I made a reindeer roast a few weeks ago (invented the recipe myself), which I thought was really good. Instructions follow:
(Reindeer roast with blue cheese sauce
1 kg (2 lb) poronpaisti (reindeer roast)
-> venison, moose, or elk roast could also be substituted
4 small red onions, whole
400 grams (1 lb) Aurajuusto (blue cheese in a big wedge)
2 dl (1 cup) whole milk
Heat oven to 150c (320f). Place roast in small roasting pan and shake some salt and freshly ground black peppper on both sides. Place the red onions in the roasting pan. Place lid on roasting pan and cook for 3-4 hours, until meat falls apart when tested with a fork. Remove from oven, and keep the lid on the roasting pan.
Slowly heat the milk in a small saucepan. When the milk is hot, cut small pieces off of the cheese and let them drop into the saucepan, whisking until dissolved, and repeat until all cheese is melted.
Pour the hot cheese sauce over the roast and serve immediately with boiled or mashed potatoes.
Drink suggestion: cold beer
Feel free to ask if you need any tips about food ingredients in Finland, etc.
Greetings from Finland
Here are some links that may be helpful to you
One of my favourites is a soup from (cold)smoked reindeer. Unfortunately my vocabulary is rather limited with food substances and I know only liters and kg's. So you have to convert the amounts to imperial units yourself and try to understand my explanations
0.5 liters water
100-200 grams of (cold)smoked reindeer
3 tbsp meat or vegetable fond
1-2 small onions
3 tbsp flour
100 - 150 ml cream
Chop the onion in small pieces and let them soften in butter on a low heat until the onions are tender.
Add flour and let it absorb in butter
Add water and let it boil. Turn down the heat
Add fond and smoked reindeer in very small pieces
Cook about ten minutes
Add cream, salt and black pepper.
Add herbs. Unfortunately I do not know the names of the herbs in English, so you have to use your imagination
Enjoy your soup
You can replace cream and flour with some tasty soft cheese. I would use "Koskenlaskija" which is Finnish processed cheese made of emmenthal. It is tasty and melts easily in a soup. You could also add chopped mushrooms in the soup if you wish.
just found a site for nordic receipes that has great info on all the odd ingredients and tips on where to find them and what to replace them with if you cant find them: http://www.dlc.fi/~marianna/gourmet/r...
for handling the viili, it will keep for a while in the fridge and the main thing is to just keep making more so you keep the culture going. she used to make it weekly through the summer at our summer place and just get a new culture from the farmer in the beginning of the season.
This is a hand-rubbin' wealth of Finnish food lovers! I wasn't expecting more than a few esoteric replies. I'll expand on what I know. I do make porkkanalaatikko, lanttulaatikko, karjalanpiikakoita (my fave comfort food) and vispipuuroa (kids BEG for this). I am pretty brave with most fish dishes, and can take sour like hell-won't-have-it. I read Bea Ojakangas, love Soile Anderson's food.
I'm mostly looking to fine tune and go deeper. To get some tips on, say, viilia (I am ordering a 90 yr-old culture and have access to the right milk) and yes, even if it sounds like a pain (my friends in Finland always buy it) to make mammia. Scanditrash - if you have any source ideas you could send my way for the malt syrup, I'd love it. I live in St Paul, MN, a brewing town historically - would this malt be available from a brewers' supply? Or, does your aunt have a trick for handling viilia once the culture is added, i.e. at room temp or in fridge; or, how easily can you keep a culture going?
I am currently reorganizing my library; I said I would post my karjalanpiirakoita recipe, and I will, along with vispipuuroa, just because it's such a seasonal holiday dish for us, as soon as I can sort through. I'll get to it by Monday, I think, as the books are EVERYWHERE.
In the meantime, bobbyperu has made me very hungry for graavi lohi. Also, does anyone have a suggestion for the best roe to use for mati? I have used flying fish roe, but it's not quite the same. Or, as long as I'm on a roll and salivating, we used to have the mati on the blackest of Russian ryes, dense and thinly sliced. I cannot find anything close to it in the MSP area. Any recipes for such a black brick-like sour bread?
Pulla - our preferred recipe - in our house, cinnamon in a pulla would be blasphemous
1 cup milk, warmed to ~ 100F
1 Tbsp active dry Yeast
½ tsp sea salt
3-3 ½ cups unbleached flour
½ cup melted butter, or veg oil
1/3 cup (raw, i.e. turbinado, if possible) sugar
1 Tbsp (yes, Tbsp) ground cardamom (freshly ground, if possible)
½ cup raisins (optional)
Glaze: 1 egg, pearl or raw sugar
War the milk (~100 degF). Dissolve in yeast + 1/2 tsp sugar. Wait for it to proof. If it doesn't bubble, curse in Finnish & start over. Beat eggs lightly, and add to milk. Add salt & 1 cup of flour. Beat dough well (with paddle attachment).
Add the melted butter and 1 cup flour; beat well.
Add sugar, cardamom and raisins, if used.
Knead in flour, using total of 3 cups (i.e. add 1 more cup) at first, adding more in small portions only if necessary.
The dough should feel soft and elastic to the hand, and never be too hard. It will not clean the sides of the bowl. Knead well until the dough makes smacking sound when you pull out your knuckles, about 20 minutes.
Rise until doubled in bowl.
Shape the dough as desired: braids, buns, loaves, etc. see attached picture for some of my kids' work w/ our garden produce!
Cover and let rise until well doubled in size.
Brush risen breads with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake at 425°F oven for 8-13 minutes for rolls, to 15-20 minutes for bigger loaves, until golden.
wow thanks for this response, just shows you can never give up on a chowhound thread! i'll try your recipe and see if it's the same as my housemate used to make. she made them into little crescents or "snails."
but, uh. . . just in case, would you mind giving me a couple of those finnish curse words called for in step one of the recipe? not that i'm not confidant of my abilities or anything. . . :)
A similar dough is used in Runeberg tortu, named after a famous author and served on his day of celebration.
In spring/summer, there is a rapu fest. Tons of cray fish cooked in dill and accompanied by shots of Korskinkorva vodka w/ beer chasers for the men and white wine for the women. The parties are held outside under the midnight sun. Ahhhhh, those were the days.
I also miss buckwheat blini topped w/ burbot roe, sour cream and diced raw onion.
In spring, bright green nettle soup w/ a dollup of sour cream was another specialty.
False morel mushrooms were also sold in the open air market. If not boiled and water discarded or dried, they were poisonous!
Every Thursday, pea soup was served through out the land, accompanied w/ blood pancakes.
In winter, grilli makara, big sausages, were sold in the parks and one cooked them over a roaring fire. The makkara and beer were traditional after sauna as well.
Back to bed.....
I am half Finnish and have several Beatrice Ojakangas cookbooks, which have many recipes for dishes I ate growing up. I think Beatrice filters them for you to eliminate the less popular ones like maksalaatikko (liver casserole). If you want a recipe for that, let me know :) I always doused it with ketchup. I still haven't found a recipe for lanttulaatikko (rutabaga casserole) that I love, but dutifully eat my mother's at Christmas time. I also have a cookbook called "Natural Cooking the Finnish Way" by Ulla Kälkönen, which was a library close-out. It has a recipe for viili, if you're interested. I have not attempted to make it.
Probably my favorite Finnish food (other than perhaps pulla) is karjalanpiirakat. I have never found a place to buy these, not even in Minneapolis, but can share a recipe, if you're interested.
re: Anya L
Here's a recipe for lanttulaatikko:
Cook until tender about 2 lbs. of rutabagas (peeled, cubed, yada, yada...)
Mash and mix in: 1/2 to 1 cup (depending upon taste) soft bread crumbs, 2 to 3 Tbsp. melted butter, 1 cup half and half, salt to taste (about 1 tsp. or so), about a half tsp. nutmeg, 1 to 2 Tbsps. sugar (depending upon how sweet your ruts are), and 2 beaten eggs. Bake at around 350 or 375 for 45 minutes to an hour. Test with a knife, to ensure doneness. I drizzle some molasses on top before baking.
re: jen kalb
Yes. Ojankangas is the classic. I also have a seasonal cookbook put out by the Finnish Dept. of Tourism, but they are back in Maine.
I lived in Helsinki for 5 years. I'm in the middle orf exams, will reply later.
Rissi and Lija Pirrakka are true Finnish foods from Karalia.
viili and mammi are probably the most pain in the butt finnish things to cook (for viili you new fresh whole milk and the starting culture stuff-at least the way my aunt made it) and mammi requires special rye flour and mammimaltaita (no idea what that is in english, some kind of malt)
For crayfish-you should aim to get them live from somewhere and if you cook them right they taste just like they should. if you can only find frozen ones-try to get them as mildly flavored as possible and if you cook them in the finnish broth they can still be ok.
Let me know if there are any receipes in particular youre looking for, i have quite a few and my moms number (I'm finnish from finland and so is she)
Wow - I was just researching this exact topic yesterday, to see what I could find. I had taken a fancy to making Graavi lohi (freshly salted salmon) and decided to see what else was out there from Finland. If you find anything interesting, post away - I'd love to discover some good Finnish recipes!
There is a lot of crossover between Finnish and Swedish cooking - just go to IKEA and have the Pytt i panna (sp?) and there is a typical Finnish weeknight meal. And the breads and sweetrolls? Mmmm. My thought is, though, that those are the "exported" ideas about Scand. cooking, and I am looking a little deeper. The fact that you love smoked reindeer makes me leap with joy! Any savory dinner dishes/food history you'd like to share? I have many fond memories of my years in Helsinki, but sadly, no one left to go to for more in-depth food lore.
As far as books go, if you haven't already read the Scandinavian installment of Time Life's Foods of the World series (1960s to 1970s), it would be something you might enjoy.
Wow! your kids go to Swedish school; even here in MN (and me married to a Swede) I don't know anyone with that sort of opportunity. I'm guessing you're making some Lucia buns this December?
I'd love to continue this swap of info - have missed all my old Finnish family members that have passed, along with the food lore. Contrary to the bad rap given the foods of Scandinavia by - who? Silvio Berlusconi? - the food is wonderful and fresh and healthy.
If you like baking, I'll post my favorite of all in a couple of days - the Karelian pie. May be good for the week you have to bring the treat.
Not only do my kids attend swedish school but they are fluent in Swedish. And my husband is a teacher at the school...and my daughter is going to be in the SVEA women's Lucia pagent...and we aren't Swedish!
My husband was married to a swede and his/our daughter from his first marriage grew up in Sweden. So there is a lot of back and forth. Our kids speak Swedish so that they will be able to speak to their family [sister's eventual spouse and kids] in Sweden. It is perhaps odd but is working well for us.
We are in SoCal. As best I can tell, this is where the swedes go to escape Sweden. There are bunches [all things being relative] of swedish schools out here: http://www.svenskaskolan.info/
I would love whatever recipes you can post. At home, we do a big Swedish dinner for Christmas but we also have a big party and Lucia deal at the school with a potluck. Typically, we bring a ton of gravlox and my husband makes these oatmeal chocolate cookie things but I'm always game for something new.
Ugh - so veeerrrry late, but here's the Karelian pie recipe:
Oven at 450 degrees
Make a porridge:
Cook one cup rice (regular medium or long grain), Add two cups of milk and cook until it's porridge-like.
Add 2 T. butter and salt to taste. Cool mixture, but keep an eye on the thickness; you may have to add more milk.
Make the pastry:
Combine one and one-half cups each all-purpose flour and rye flour. Mix one cup water, 2 T. melted butter and 2 t. salt in another bowl.
Add liquid to dry and mix. Knead on a floured surface(use rye flour) until smooth and elastic.
Divide kneaded dough into 16 pieces - use plastic wrap to keep unused dough from drying out.
Roll each 1/16 piece into a rough circle. Spread cooled rice porridge mixture down the center of the circle in a strip. Fold up the sides and ends of the circle, using a pleating technique- the finished product should like a bit like a moccasin.
Brush finished pastries with a mixture of 4 oz. butter and 4 oz milk, heated and blended together. Bake on a buttered sheet pan for 15 to 20 minutes (depending upon your oven), brushing with the butter/milk mixture once during baking.
Egg butter should top these: mix a pound of soft butter with 6 to 8 mashed hard-cooked eggs. Blend well and salt to taste.
These are delicious! I ate many last summer in Helsinki. Egg butter is soooooo good ... can't believe more people don't know about it. It's a perfect complement to those pies.
A typical meal our Finnish friends prepare usually goes like this:
Appetizer of homemade brown (rye) bread with gravlax
Baked salmon with boiled potatoes on the side, or salmon soup
Dessert of prune compote, topped with whipped cream
Very simple and excellent cuisine.
Yum. Yum. And yum!
My sister, my daughter and I are making dozens of Karelian pies this weekend. I'm thinking of doing a
salmon soup to go with the festivities/labors. We always called the salmon/potato soup
kalamojakka growing up, but it's more appropriately kalakeitto.
Is this what you make/eat? A few allspice and some dill add the flavor? Milk-based? A wonderful dish. My Dad placed an "order" for it just the other day - I cook, parcel out, freeze, deliver...he enjoys. Good stuff. Glad someone else gets it.
I have a sister-in-law who considered the egg-butter( for KPs) a salad. It is *that* good, but a cup of it? Yikes! Next time I should speak up more, just to prevent serious over-buttering.
My scandinavian link is sweden but heck, i can shoot off my mouth!
I love smoked reindeer but the only place I can think of to buy it is in Stockholm and I'm not even sure they have it at that shop anymore.
If you want to expand your repetoire beyond breads, there are a couple of good cookbooks that deal with scandinavian cooking [including finish] and have more in them but coffee breads. I think one is called Scandinavian Table or something---it has meals for holidays and lovely pictures. And there is a woman who specializes in scandivian cooking who I think is finish but I can't remember her name. Try looking on the jessica's bisquit website.
I have come to believe that good coffee breads in scandinavia is just a really important part of the culture so don't denigrate your ability to bake. My kids attend swedish school and every week someone is assigned to bring the coffee bread. Most times it is dreck from some grocery store but on the occassion when it is homebaked, the place goes crazy. And you should see them at the Christmas pagent buying up more coffee bread than you could ever imagine a single family having in the house at one time.
yum. Bake away! and send me some!