Assignment 20: Finland

Finland

Location: Northern Europe
Population: 5.5 million
Capital: Helsinki
Geography: A low-lying country of lakes, fens, and coniferous forest.
Language: Finnish
Signature flavours: Salted and smoked fish, rye, potato, white pepper, mushrooms, butter, pork.

The Menu

Eric and I have been to Estonia and Norway and loved the food, so Eric was excited to have the chance to explore the culinary traditions of a country in the neighbourhood. His Finnish knowledge was limited to Moomins, hockey players, and the Netflix show Bordertown, so he got to researching. He was surprised to learn that Finland has far from a glowing reputation when it comes to food, at least among former European leaders. Eric was determined to prove them all wrong. He came across Finnish pasties, and built a meal around them.

Karjalan Piirakat (Karelian Pasties): Rye flour dough wrapping an egg, milk, and rice mixture, served with boiled egg and butter.

Prep and cooking time: 2 hours
Difficulty: 4/5

Lapland Perch Filets: Freshwater perch baked with white pepper, thyme, salt, and white wine.

Prep and cooking time: 20 min
Difficulty: 1/5

FD taters
Lemon and Herb Potatoes: Potatoes fried up with lemon, parsley, and cream.

Prep and cooking time: 60 minutes
Difficulty: 2/5

FD salad
Mixed Greens Salad: A fresh salad of greens, tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese, dressed with olive oil, salt, and white pepper.

Prep and cooking time: 5 min
Difficulty: 1/5

Smoked Herring: Eric was forced to buy smoked fish since we regrettably don’t have a smokehouse. Minced and garnished with white pepper, the herring has a strong, fishy, smoky flavour.

Prep and cooking time: 5 min
Difficulty: 1/5

The Shopping List

The rye flour was easily located at our local bulk store. Trusty fishmonger Hooked came through for the perch, and smoked herring was found on the shelves of Mike’s Fish Market at Toronto’s St Lawrence Market.

The Meal

Eric grew discouraged when the pasty dough was first too sticky, then too dry, then too sticky again. He called me in for support. I’ve worked in a bakery and am not a stranger to pasty panic. We whipped up those piirakats in no time.

FD dough
Piirakat dough, before the bad feelings started

It must be admitted that we both found the finished product rather underwhelming. The rye pastry has a characteristically underdone texture. The rice inside was pretty lacklustre. Topped with the buttery egg mix, though, they were pretty enjoyable.

FD fish pasty
The potatoes were a highlight for me — oily and lemony and parsley-y — as was the smoked herring. I must be vitamin deficient this week, because I ate about four helpings of salad. The dressing was very mild and the feta was nice and salty to go with it. We enjoyed the meal with Finlandia vodka in our glasses. Kippis!

FD dishesLinks
http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/karelian-pasties-karjalan-piirakat-136480
https://laplandwildfish.fi/en/fish-recipes/perch-filets-with-potatoes/

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional chef. I’m just a passionate cook with a curiosity for flavours I’ve never tried. For great recipes from gifted local cooks, follow the links above.

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