Monday, May 30, 2016

Dining-In: A Culinary tour of the World-Finland

The Country: Finland

Continent: Europe, North
Capital: Helsinki
Current Head of State: Prime Minister Juha Sipila, President Sauli Niinisto
Form of Government: Unitary Parliamentary Constitutional Republic
Official Language: Finnish, Swedish
Ethnic Groups: Finns, Swedes, Sami, Roma, Russian
Formation Date: 15th century, though first known inhabitants date back to 5200 BCE.
Population: As of March 2016: 5,488,543
Currency: Euro
Independence Date: December 6, 1917-From Russia
Main Religion: Christianity-Luthern, Eastern Orthodox
Famous Finnish Americans: Jean Auel, Pamela Anderson, Matt Damon, George Gaynes, Jessica Lange, Vanessa Williams
National Anthem:

The Food: Lohikeitto and Pannukakku
Translated into English, this is salmon chowder and a giant oven pancake. The two items aren't necessarily related, but they were recipes I could make that didn't require me to special order any ingredients and actually sounded like things I would eat. It's not easy to get my hands on lingon berries or reindeer meat in Seattle. Both recipes come from the internet and I will post the original links in the sources section.

Lohikeitto-Finnish Salmon Chowder

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, chopped (white and light green part only)
3 cups plus 1 Tbsp. water, divided
1 bay leaf
3/4 lb. potatoes, cubed and peeled
3/4 lb. salmon filet, skinned, boned and cut into small chunks
3/4 cup cream (I used coconut milk since I can’t eat cream of any kind)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch (up to 1 1/2 Tablespoons if you'd like the broth thick)
1 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley or dill for topping
Lemon wedge (optional)

Heat the olive in a large saucepan and saute the leek until softened. Add 3 cups of the water and the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and carefully add the potatoes. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender.
Add the salmon and simmer for five minutes. Add the coconut milk and stir to mix. Make a cornstarch slurry with the cornstarch and 1 Tablespoon of water, stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Add to the soup and simmer until the soup has thickened.
Add the butter and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with plenty of fresh parsley or dill. Serve with a squeeze of lemon, if desired.
This soup is really light for a chowder. One thing I have noticed with Scandinavian cooking is a minimalist style. The ingredient list is usually pretty small and the dish is prepared in such a way that each ingredient shines for what it is. In this one, the potatoes were very potatoey and the salmon was very salmony but not fishy. I used dill and lemon to drizzle over the top and both helped enhance the flavor. I highly recommend using both.

Even though the soup is light, it was filling as well. It's a chowder for warm weather. Using the coconut milk helps it from being too heavy and don't worry, all the other flavors mask any coconut flavor, so it doesn't taste odd with the chowder. I recommend using the kind of coconut milk in the cardboard containers, not the kind in cans. The canned kind is "real" coconut milk and very strongly flavored. The kind you find in the baking aisle is not what I consider "true" coconut milk, and works better for things you don't want to taste like coconut. Also, be careful when you stir this soup. The salmon and potatoes are both very delicate and you want to keep them in pieces, not broken up to bits.

Next up was the Pannukakku, or the oven pancake. This shows up in other cultures. It's called a Dutch Baby or German Oven Pancake, but this is the Finnish version. I found this to be a very easy and fun recipe and it made me want to try other versions.


6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar (optional)(I cut it down to 2 Tbsp. and it was a very light sweetness. If you like sweeter foods, I would use the full amount.)
1 Tbsp. vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract) (I used the extract)
1/8 tsp. grated lemon zest(I didn’t measure this exactly, but used the zest of one whole lemon. You could also use orange zest if you want. That would be amazing too.)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup butter(I found this to be a bit too much. I blotted out some of the butter, so you might cut out one or two Tablespoons of it.)
1 cup cream, whipped until stiff peaks form(I sprinkled powdered sugar on mine instead of this)
Fresh fruit, fruit compote, or sautéed apples(I used fresh blueberries and they were amazing with this)

Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla sugar (or vanilla) until creamy. Stir in grated lemon zest. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder and stir into egg mixture. Allow batter to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450º. When pancake batter has rested, place butter in an oven-proof frying pan. Place pan in oven and allow butter to melt without browning. Once your butter has melted, remove pan from oven and use pastry brush to coat surface and side of pan evenly with the melted butter.
Pour pancake batter into the hot, buttered pan and return to oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden.(Resist the urge to open the door to look at it. Like a soufflé, you don’t want to let the heat out for this one.)
Serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit, fruit compote, or lightly sautéed apples.
Yield: 5-6 servings.
This pancake was fun! It's all puffy when you take it out of the oven, but it deflates after a minute. It's really dense and eggy. I'm not sure it was supposed to be that dense, but it was still delicious. I really liked it with the powdered sugar and blueberries. Raspberries and blackberries would be great too. Strawberries too, obviously!
I really enjoyed making and eating both of these recipes. Neither of them takes too much time to make and were not difficult at all. I highly recommend both of them! Finland always seems to be forgotten, but their food is really tasty. Give it a try!

Salmon Chowder Recipe

Pannukakku Recipe

National Anthem

Flag Link

Map Link

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