Although it is not for the faint of heart, surströmming has a devoted following and is considered a delicacy by many.
Surströmming is one of the oldest and most beloved Swedish seafood dishes, known for its strong and unique smell and delicious taste. It is a traditional dish that has been enjoyed for centuries and continues to be popular to this day. Although it is not for the faint of heart, surströmming has a devoted following and is considered a delicacy by many.
Let’s explore the history, ingredients, and unique flavor of Surströmming and discuss why it is still a popular dish in Sweden today. We will also discuss how to prepare Surströmming and what to drink with it, as well as explore the possible health benefits of this traditional Swedish dish.
What is Surströmming?
Surströmming is a traditional Swedish dish that is made from pickled herring. It is a type of fermented fish that has been stored in a barrel or jar and is known for its delicious taste. It is usually served with potatoes, onions, sour cream, and different types of bread and often accompanied by a strong alcoholic beverage, such as akvavit, a distilled spirit that is principally produced in Scandinavia, where it has been produced since the 15th century.
In Sweden, surströmming is often associated with summertime and is often served as a summertime snack, accompanied by potatoes, butter, and bread. It is also often served at Midsommar, a traditional Swedish holiday that celebrates the summer solstice.
In addition to being a symbol of Swedish heritage, surströmming also has a strong connection to the natural environment and the marine ecosystem of Sweden. The herring used to make surströmming are caught in the spring, when they are at their freshest and most flavorful. The tradition of fermenting herring is also a way of preserving the fish, which allows it to be enjoyed throughout the year.
Surströmming has a long and interesting history. The dish is believed to have originated in the 16th century, when herring was salted and stored in barrels to preserve it. Over time, the salted herring began to ferment, and the resulting dish was known as Surströmming.
The dish quickly became popular in Sweden, as it was a way to preserve the herring and make it last longer. The fermentation process also gave the dish a unique flavor and aroma that was unlike any other dish.
Today, surströmming is considered a symbol of Swedish heritage and is often served at cultural events and celebrations.
Here is a general overview of the process of preparing surströmming:
Catch the herring: The herring used to make surströmming are caught in the spring, when they are at their freshest and most flavorful.
Clean and gut the herring: Once the herring has been caught, it is cleaned and gutted to remove any excess dirt or debris.
Brine the herring: The herring is then placed in a large container and covered with a mixture of water and salt. This mixture is called a brine, and it helps preserve the fish and gives it its distinctive flavor.
Ferment the herring: The herring is then left to ferment in the brine for a few months, during which time it gives off gas and gets a strong, pungent smell.
Pack the herring: Once the herring has finished fermenting, it is carefully packed into cans or barrels to preserve its flavor and freshness.
The herring can also be cooked to reduce the smell further. To do this, the herring should be boiled in salted water for a few minutes before being served.
Serving Ideas for Surströmming
Surströmming is a versatile dish that can be served in a variety of ways, such as with different sauces, such as mustard or mayonnaise. It can also be served with pickles, olives, and other pickled vegetables. Surströmming can also be used as an ingredient in other dishes, such as omelets, salads, sandwiches, and soups.
What to drink with Surströmming
Surströmming is usually accompanied by a strong alcoholic beverage, which helps cut through the strong smell of the herring and provides a refreshing contrast.
Beer is also a popular choice to drink with Surströmming. The carbonation of the beer helps to balance out the flavor of the herring, and the alcohol helps to reduce the smell.
Surströmming can also be enjoyed with wine or cider. These drinks provide a refreshing and slightly sweet contrast to the salty and tangy flavor of the herring.
Surströmming Around the World
Surströmming is a traditional Swedish dish, but it has become popular in other countries as well. In recent years, the dish has become more widely available in grocery stores, online, and in restaurants around the world.
Surströmming is popular in Finland, Norway, and Denmark, as well as other Scandinavian countries. It is also becoming increasingly popular in the United States and other countries around the world.
Health Benefits of Surströmming
Surströmming has been studied for its possible health benefits and was found to be high in protein and low in fat. It is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for a healthy heart. Studies have shown that the fermentation process of the herring can help to reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Surströmming is not for everyone, as its strong aroma can be off-putting to some. In fact, it is illegal to open a can of surströmming on public transportation or in many public places in Sweden due to its strong smell.
Whether you're a fan of fermented foods or simply looking to try something new, surströmming is a truly unique and authentic culinary experience.