Modern Finnish cuisine is the heir to the old ways of preparing food from ingredients available in the north. Its formation took place under the influence of local natural conditions and cuisines of neighboring countries. Finnish recipes are simple, few ingredients and surprising combinations.
The main features of the national Finnish cuisine
The cold climate in Finland has determined the orientation of local gastronomy towards hot, high-calorie foods that can keep the body warm and make up for the lack of sunlight in the winter months.
Finnish cuisine is based on the gifts of nature (mushrooms, marsh berries, fish, venison) and livestock products (milk, butter, cream, meat).
Vegetables are rarely used, mainly potatoes, rutabagas and peas. Finns prefer cereals – there are cereals on the menu of local residents, a rare meal does not go without bread, and original cereal sausages are made from rice and pearl barley.
Fish dishes occupy a special place in Finnish cuisine. Finland has a long sea coast, and its unofficial name is the Land of a Thousand Lakes.
Fishing is highly developed, and each hostess knows dozens of ways to prepare the catch. Fish is most often boiled or baked with milk or cream.
The formation of Finnish cuisine was influenced by the country’s geographical position and history. Almost all the ingredients for local dishes are produced in Finland, and rare borrowed recipes belong to Swedish and Russian cuisines.
Popular products in the country of Suomi are barley flour, rutabaga, pearl barley, herring, milk, butter, lard, cream. In one form or another, each of them is included in almost all recipes.
The reason for this selectivity was the orientation of agriculture over the past 200 years to the production of a narrow range of products. Specialization has led to the emergence of original food processing technologies, as a result of which the best culinary effect is achieved.
Finnish cuisine is characterized by a large number of dishes that include fish and meat at the same time. This combination confirms the antiquity of the recipes, since in the Neolithic era, people combined different products for ritual sacrifices.
A fact that points to the centuries-old history of Finnish gastronomy is the presence of three types of meat in many meat dishes: beef, lamb, pork.
Dishes of the same composition exist in the cooking of the Ural Finno-Ugric (for example, filling for dumplings), that is, the cooking technology was the same before the division of the Finno-Ugric tribes in the Stone Age.
In Finland, caviar of any kind of fish is eaten, but on the condition that it is of the first freshness. The fish should have just been caught. Caviar is often used as an ingredient in fish soups.
There are variants of fish soup made only from caviar and milk. These products are considered the most delicious, and the dish is considered a delicacy.
An interesting feature of making Finnish soups is the skimming. In the XIX century. it was always removed, but later the rule was rejected for medical reasons, since it contains proteins useful for the body. In the country of Suomi, foam is getting rid of even now, without this operation it is impossible to guarantee the authentic taste of the soup.
Meat dishes in Finland are not as popular as fish dishes, but the technology of serving them has its own nuance. Finnish chefs add berry preserves to many meat dishes instead of the usual sauces. They are made from lingonberries, blueberries, blueberries, cloudberries. As a result, the meat is eaten sweet.
Salting and steeping stand out from the typical Finnish cooking methods. These are opposite actions in meaning, but their use in local gastronomy is due to historical reasons.
Meat or fish is harvested in summer and autumn and salted for long-term storage. For it, use salt with large crystals of the size of a pea. In this case, the meat is better preserved and loses less nutrients.
At the end of winter, the food is soaked, after which the salted meat and fish are saturated with cream until they are completely absorbed into the tissues. This technology allows salted and soaked products to return to their natural taste.
Typical products and traditional dishes
The gastronomy of the country of Suomi is a combination of authentic cooking recipes and modern methods of assessing the quality of the products used.
Most of the soups in Finnish cuisine are rich and hearty dishes, the main purpose of which is to keep warm in cold weather. Chief among them is fish.
It is brewed in different varieties – from the traditional kalakeitto, which is called milk soup, to klimpisoppa – dumplings are added to it. Fish soup often contains dairy products: cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, butter. Such a combination of fish and milk is almost never found in the cuisines of other countries.
A common everyday soup in Finland is the pea hernekeitto, and the gourmet first course is a deer bone broth with juniper berries.
Most of the Finnish second courses are fish dishes. They are prepared in different ways: by boiling, baking, grilling, stewing in milk. In one form or another, the Finns use fish and dishes made from it almost every day.
Finnish meat recipes are influenced by Swedish cuisine. The inhabitants of the country Suomi love to cook meatballs, which in other countries are called Swedish meatballs. Reindeer and wild animals (elk, bear, etc.) are considered authentic Finnish meat dishes.
The high level of development of animal husbandry gives the inhabitants of Finland the opportunity to widely use dairy products in cooking. Milk is drunk in its pure form, cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter, yogurt are prepared from it.
Several types of cream are produced in the country: for coffee, whipping (they are added to the dough), food (for meat, fish, etc.). Of the original dairy dishes, viili stands out – a sweet and sour product, similar to yogurt, but more viscous and viscous.
The main ingredient in most Finnish baked goods is rye flour. Round loaves and flat cakes are baked from the dough mixed on its basis. Some types of bread, such as reikäleipä, can be kept dry.
This flatbread with a hole in the center is considered a national dish in Finland. Sometimes wheat flour is added to the dough for reikäleipä. In the XXI century. in Finland, kauraleipä bakery products, which are baked from flour with the addition of oats, have gained popularity.
The cold climate has determined the presence of a large number of hot sweet dishes in local gastronomy. One of them is panukakku, lazy pancakes that are baked in the oven. They are often served sweet after pea soup.
Another popular pastry is korvapuusti. For her, use wheat flour, milk, salt, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon. The bun is a favorite weekend dessert.
The original Finnish invention is the Runeberg cake. This is a local version of the “potato”. It is believed that his recipe appeared in the middle of the 19th century. in Porvoo, in Lars Asthenius’s pastry shop, and his wife became the author.
Coffee and milk are the favorite soft drinks of the people of Suomi. The Finns start the morning with them. Throughout the day, they drink kvass, compotes and fruit drinks made from wild berries (blueberries, blueberries, cloudberries). Birch sap deserves special mention, which is harvested in early spring and stored using modern technologies.
The assortment of alcoholic drinks in the country of Suomi is represented by beer, liqueurs, vodka and liqueurs based on wild berries.
Finnish beer is considered one of the best in the world thanks to the use of environmentally friendly ingredients in its production. In the country, mainly light varieties of amber drink are brewed. The best-selling beer brands are Koff, Karjala, Lapin Kulta. There is a way to brew beer from juniper, this drink is called Sahti.
On the basis of wild berries in Finland, liqueurs and liqueurs are made, in the production of which they use whole berries. Drinks are sweet as the bitterness is not crushed.
The quality of Finnish vodka is traditionally high thanks to the use of natural ingredients and strict adherence to technology. The most popular varieties are Finlandia, Saimaa, Koskenkorva. There are variants of vodka with blueberry, currant, lingonberry, vanilla flavors.
Must-haves to try in Finland
Getting to know Finnish cuisine is a pleasant way to experience the local culture.
The traditional pastry kalakukko is a rye dough pie stuffed with fish and bacon. For cooking, use vendace, sea bass, Baltic herring.
The baking time for kalakukko is 5-6 hours, so bones are left in the fish, which soften during the cooking process. Cut a hole in the top of the cake before serving. The filling is spread on plates, the bread shell is spread with butter. They consume a dish with fermented milk drinks and buttermilk.
Kalakukko is a fish pie.
The popular street food mustamakkara is blood sausage in a natural casing. The minced meat for its production includes pork blood, bacon, flour, rye seeds. The sausage is black and served hot with lingonberry jam. Finns often wash down the dish with milk and eat with donuts.
Rössypottu meat soup is a dish that originated in the Oulu region and is not widely used in southern Finland. This is an easy-to-make and easy-to-prepare soup made from pork, potatoes and blood sausage. The dish is popular in school canteens and on the menus of the Finnish army soldiers.
Vetu and Atomi pies
Vety and atomi are typical Finnish fast food. Different names mean variations of the same dish. Atomi is a simple patty stuffed with ham or hard-boiled eggs.
Vety is a pastry with eggs, ham, minced meat and rice, and optionally pickled cucumbers, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard. Pies are served in small bowls, washed down with coffee.
The kalalaatikko casserole is a combination of potatoes, milk, onions and fish. Slices of potatoes are laid out in a 1-layer mold, on it – herring peeled from entrails, tail and head, then onions and potatoes again on top.
The dish is poured with milk. Check readiness with a fork – the casserole should be soft, but baked. Serve kalalaatikko with dill, pickled cucumbers and tomatoes.
Kalalaatikko is the national casserole.
The appetizer leipäjuusto, or bread cheese. It looks like a fried flatbread, and in the cut it resembles a pudding.
A dish is prepared from cow’s milk, which is heated, after which rennet is added. The resulting mass is rolled into a cake, then baked in the oven. Cheese is eaten cold and hot, most often with fresh cloudberries.
The traditional Finnish dessert mämmi is a porridge made from rye flour, sugar and malt. The mixture is simmered in the oven for several hours. After which the delicacy is poured with cream or vanilla cream, steamed lingonberries are added. Dessert is low-calorie and healthy, as it contains a large amount of fiber, protein and trace elements.
Karjalanpiirakka pastries are akin to wickets. In appearance, the pies resemble open boats, in which, instead of cargo, there is filling.
To bake them, dough is used, the content of rye flour in which must be at least 50%. The filler is rice or barley porridge or crushed potatoes. Served with karjalanpiirakka with egg butter (a mixture of hard-boiled egg and butter).
Karjalanpiirakka – baked Finnish boats.
With a countersink
Butter bun laskiaispulla is the main dessert of the Finnish Shrovetide, but you can try it at other times. To bake it, cardamom is added to the dough, and the filling is milk cream with almond paste. The top of the bun is garnished with whipped cream.
The hernekeitto pea soup is considered an everyday dish in Finland. The Finns use green peas rather than yellow peas and add more meat and smoked meats. The soup contains pork, beef, ribs, bacon, fried onions and carrots, peppers, mustard seeds. For vegetarians, there is a meat-free version of hernekeitto.
Fried vendace muikku is one of the popular fish dishes traditionally prepared in summer. The vendace is freed from the tail and head, dipped in salted rye flour and fried in butter. Skillful housewives make it in batter, for this they dip the fish in an egg, then roll it in oat bran with white pepper.
Muikku is a small fried fish in batter.
Roast venison poronkäristys pottuvoilla is the main Finnish game dish. Reindeer meat is cut into slices, which are first fried in reindeer fat, then stewed in their own juice. As a result, the venison softens and melts in the mouth. Poronkäristys pottuvoilla is served on a base of mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce is used to season.
A fish soup
Milk ear kalakeitto is a rich fish broth with cod or flounder fillets, into which milk or cream is added as soon as it is ready.
Vegetable ingredients are potatoes, peppers, onions, parsley, dill. A special feature that distinguishes kalakeitto from other similar soups is the addition of a thickener in the form of flour along with the cream. In Finland, milk soup is consumed a day after cooking, when the soup is infused.
The graavilohi salmon appetizer is an example of an authentic Finnish sandwich. Fillets of salmon, trout or arctic char are cut into slices, sequentially sprinkled with salt, sugar and chopped herbs, doused with gin, cognac or brandy, wrapped in foil and placed in a cold place for 3-4 days. As a result of fermentation, the fish acquires an original taste. It is served on rye bread, thickly spread with butter.
The Finnish New Year drink glögi is one of the mulled wine options. It is made from red wine, brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon, crushed almonds, orange peel.
The ingredients are boiled in a saucepan without boiling. Eat glögi with gingerbread cookies. There is a non-alcoholic version of the drink that uses cranberry juice instead of wine.
In Finland there is a tradition of eating food related to the time or month of the year.
In March, on Shrovetide, Finns eat pancakes with delicious fillings, in April, during Easter, eggs and mämmi dessert, in May – donuts with jam and brushwood with powdered sugar.
In summer, the inhabitants of the country bake pies with mushrooms and berries, eat young potatoes, Atlantic herring, salmon, crayfish, and apples.
In the fall comes the turn of game (hare, elk) and lamb and venison dishes.
In winter, the Finns prefer root vegetable casseroles, beet salad, pea soup, and caviar.
Preparations for the celebration of Christmas begin in Finland in November, with the beginning of the Christmas fast. This period of time is called pikkujoulu, which means little Christmas. The peak of the celebrations falls on December 25 and New Year’s Eve.
The Christmas table in the country of Suomi is rich and takes into account different eating habits.
In the festive menu you can find:
- riisipuuro – Sweet rice porridge with almonds
- kaaliveli – porridge made from cabbage, pearl barley, peas and rutabagas;
- Christmas bread – pastries made from rye flour with syrup, orange peel, buttermilk, caraway seeds;
- kalakukko – a pie made of rye and wheat flour, eggs, fish fillets, onions.
Many dishes of the country of Suomi are easy to prepare at home.
Lohikeitto creamy soup
- red fish – 350 g;
- 4 large potato tubers;
- cream with a fat content of 10% – 300 ml;
- butter – 40 g;
- 1 onion;
- 1.5 liters of water.
- Boil water, put fish in it, cook for no more than 10 minutes.
- Remove the fish with a slotted spoon, strain the broth through cheesecloth, remove the bones from the fish.
- Chop the potatoes and onions as small as possible.
- Melt butter in a container with thick walls, pour broth into it, add potatoes. Cook over medium heat for about 25 minutes.
- Add fish, then cream, salt to taste.
- Bring the dish to a boil, but do not let it boil to prevent the cream from curdling.
- Pour the prepared soup into bowls and serve, garnish with rosemary.
- eggs – 2 pcs.;
- icing sugar – 6 tbsp. l .;
- flour – 1 tbsp .;
- butter – 100 g;
- cream with a fat content of 25% – 100 ml;
- blueberries – 500 g;
- baking powder – 1 tsp.
- In a large container, beat the butter with a mixer. Add 3 tbsp. l. powdered sugar and 1 egg. Then beat the ingredients until the consistency of an airy cream.
- Mix the flour with baking powder and add it to the cream in several steps.
- Grease a mold with high sides, transfer the dough into it and manually mold the side of the pie.
- To prepare the filling, mix 1 egg, blueberries and 2 tbsp. l. powdered sugar. Place the resulting mass inside the cake. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Put the finished pie out of the mold on a dish, let cool, then sprinkle with the remaining powder.
The dish is ready to eat.