Let the Northern spirit inspire your taste buds with these ten culinary specialties typical of Scandinavian cuisine.
Salmon, sandwiches, meatballs—Nordic cuisine goes far beyond what’s found by the Ikea cash registers. Pure, graphic, simple, and efficient, Nordic cuisine is increasingly renowned on the world gastronomy scene. If Copenhagen remains an an undisputed gastronomic capital,its neighbors shouldn’t be overlooked. After taking a look at French, Spanish, and Portuguese cuisines, we now head north–here’s a look at culinary specialties typical of Nordic cuisine.
In Sweden, this delicious cinnamon- and cardamom-flavored rolled bun is a must at the mid-morning fika time and the traditional afternoon Swedish coffee break. The kanelbülle (singular) is so popular, it’s celebrated every October 4 on Kanelbullens dag .
2. Gravlax salmon
Scandinavian-style gravlax salmon is a delicate, tasty, and elegant starter. Raw salmon fillets are seasoned for several days in a marinade of mostly salt, sugar, pepper, dill, and red berries, then sliced into thin slivers and served up with a delicious mustard sauce called hovmästersås.
3. The knäckelbröd
This crispy Swedish bread is the essential start for smörgås, the colorful savory toast. Incredibly rich, knäckelbröd is ideal for braving the Scandinavian winter frost.
4. Hasselback Potatoes
Hasselbackspotatis are oven-roasted potatoes cut, fanned out and served as an accompaniment to meat or fish. Impossible to resist, these potatoes are crispy and golden on the outside but tender on the inside.
5. Kalops Stew
What could be better than a piping hot stew to warm up those long northern winter evenings? Seasoned with dill and steeped in a thick sauce, Kalops is a beef stew that will melt in your mouth.
How about the sweet side? Semlor are cardamom-flavored brioches filled with marzipan and whipped cream and topped with sprinkled icing sugar. Typical Mardi Gras pastry, you can also find them in Nordic countries throughout the Christmas to Easter periods.
Of Danish origin, Drømmekage is a soft, vanilla-flavored cake smothered with a layer of caramelized coconut. Its name literally means “dream cake.” Tempting, no?
8. The köttbullar
There’s no point in writing about Scandinavian specialties without the inevitable: meatballs. Emblematic of Swedish cuisine but just as popular in Norway and Denmark, köttbullar are prepared from a mixture of different meats and traditionally served with mashed potatoes, cucumbers, and cranberry jam.
Whether marinated, smoked, grilled, boiled, fried, or part of a soup, salad, or simply fermented, herring is a staple of Scandinavian cuisine. In fact, the fish is used in almost every sauce. Served on buttered polar bread or knäckelbröd along with potatoes and fresh onions, it can be enjoyed in a thousand different ways.
10. The brunost
With its soft caramel-like appearance, brunost is a Norwegian brown goat’s cheese usually spread on a slice of rye bread or a waffle. It pairs perfectly with chicouté jam, a typical Nordic berry sauce.