the scandinavian cookbook (home-cured salmon) by the gourmet traveller ***

Having only visited two cities in Scandinavia (Copenhagen and Stockholm) my knowledge of the regional cuisine is meagre at best, limited mostly to gravadlax, herrings, meatballs and smørrebrød (all of which I love). Trina Hahnemann’s beautifully presented book sheds light on the clean flavours of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, through simple recipes that take a modern slant on traditional Scandinavian fare.

Sectioned into months, the book is a real joy to browse through (Lars Ranek’s photography is stunning) and the recipes are very accessible, although many were rather simplistic and only a few really grabbed me. Of particular interest were the varied selection of bread recipes, which included rye flatbread, yoghurt and wholewheat, cinnamon rolls and cardamom buns. The divine Danish Kartoffelkage (cream-filled choux pastry covered in a layer of cocoa-dusted marzipan) is also down on my to do list.

The side of salmon gleaned from a recent trip to Billingsgate Market was perfect for trying one of the many salmon preparations in the book. I chose the Marinated Salmon, cured using a mixture of salt, sugar and citrus zests. The recipe unhelpfully failed to specify the size of salmon to use, and I found the amounts of both salt and sugar excessive for my relatively small piece of fish, so I cut it by a third. The resulting cured salmon was still too salty to eat on its own, but was perfect when paired with roasted beetroot, lambs lettuce, toasted sourdough and horseradish cream*. I actually attempted the pickled cucumber recipes from the book as well but the pickles came out so overwhelmingly sharp that we barely touched them.

The Marinated Salmon recipe is below if you’d like to give home-curing a go. You will need to tweak the measurements stated (they’re straight from the book) according to the size of your fish – I would advise you to cut the marinade quantity by a half for a medium-sized piece of salmon.

Marinated Salmon
serves 20-24

zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
300g caster sugar
300g sea salt
1 side of salmon, filleted

to serve:
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
toasted bread
green salad

Combine the salt, sugar and citrus zests and spread the mixture evenly over the enter surface of the salmon. Wrap it tightly in cling film, place in a deep dish (the fish will expel liquid as it cures) and leave in the refrigerator for 3 days.

After 3 days, take the salmon out and remove the cling film. Wipe as much of the marinade as you can off with a paper towel, then wrap in a new sheet of cling film and freeze for 12 hours (you can portion the salmon up before freezing, and just defrost each portion as needed).

Remove from the freezer and defrost fully. Then cut into thin slices to serve, sprinkling it with lemon and orange zest if desired (I served mine with roughly chopped dill).

* 150ml creme fraiche with 2 tbsp creamed horseradish, and a little salt and pepper.

The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann is available on Amazon (RRP £14.99).

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