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Cured Trout for Easter

It’s Easter again and I’m planning to treat myself and guests to some cured trout. To cure trout I use the same method and ratio as when I make traditional Scandinavian gravlax. The recipe below is plain and simple. Not much more is needed for this delicate treat, but if you want to try something different you can add other flavors. Ederflower, ginger, crushed juniper or a shot of aquavit work really well. The list is endless.

Besides salmon and trout you can use this same method to cure other types of fish. Mackerel is an excellent option, and Keiko over at food blog Nordljus cured a good looking seabass with a scent of licorice. As I love licorice, I decided to add some toasted fennel seeds to my cure this Easter, which I think will go really well with the mild trout flavor.

for the curing you will need

1 kilo (2 lb) trout fillet
1 teaspoon freshly milled white pepper
4 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons sugar
bunch of dill

toasted whole fennel seeds (optional)

for decoration
fresh dill

Note: The trout should be frozen one or two days before you start the curing. The freezing will eliminate unnecessary bacteria.

It’s not hard to fillet your trout yourself. The benefit is that you can use the remaining parts (except for the guts) to make an excellent stock together with bay leaves, carrot, celery, onions, dills stalks, some herbs like thyme, salt and pepper.

If you still think this is too messy, ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish for you but remind them that the skin should be kept on.

When you have your fillets ready. Rinse them in some cold water and pull out, if there are any, remaining bones with a pair of pliers.

Mix together salt, sugar and pepper. Rub the fillet with some of the mixture and sprinkle the rest on top of the fillets. Wash the dill and chop finely. Put the fillets together, meat against meat with the chopped dill and (if you like) some toasted fennel seeds (slightly crushed) in between. Wrap the fish in a plastic foil. Let the fish cure in the fridge with something heavy on top for 48 hours. Turn them now and again.

After two days, unwrap and clean the fillets. Start to slice the trout at the end of the fish into thin diagonal slivers using a fillet knife (or any other suitable knife). Garnish with some dill branches and slices of lemon. They can be served on toast or dark bread. However this fish is sensational on a thin “knäckebröd” topped with a drip of Hovmästarsås. Enjoy!

Stir together 3 tablespoons mustard, 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar with plenty of chopped dill. Slowly start dripping in a little less than a 1/2 cup of olive oil into the mixture while stirring continuously (just like you make mayonnaise). If you add the oil too quickly the mixture can separate. The result should be a thick sauce. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Before buying any fish check with Seafood Watch (US) for the most sustainable options.


This article was originally published at Ecosalon, 5 April 2012

Äggakaga (Eggy Cake)

Äggakaga (Eggy Cake) is a South Swedish thick pancake that’s baked on top of the stove. This cake is rich in eggs and baked with plenty of butter and pork fat (not for a slim diet). Its creamy and hearty and fills the stomach with pleasure and warmth. Traditionally the cake is served for both lunch or dinner with plenty of smoked bacon and lingonberry jam. As a lunch it will give you strength for a hard day’s work. For dinner it gives you comfort and a good night’s sleep. It will also be enjoyable as a brunch served with ale instead of mimosas.

My version is made with an addition of fresh rosemary and brown sugar is used instead of regular white sugar. The rosemary works really well with smoked bacon and adds a nice touch to this old traditional dish.

Äggakaga with Rosemary 
for 2 servings

4 eggs
1 2/3 cup (400 ml) milk
¾ cup (175 ml) regular flour
1 ½ tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt

plenty of butter for frying

½ lb (250 g) smoked bacon, sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk them together with the milk. Add salt and sugar. Sift the flour into the batter little by little to avoid lumps. The mixture is done when all is well mixed and has become a smooth batter. Let it rest on the counter while you fry the smoked bacon. Add the rosemary to the bacon when its almost done. Set the bacon aside and reserve the fat, as that will be use when cooking the pancake.

The pancake should be about 1- 1 ½” thick so a regular frying pan (about 10″-11″ wide) that can fit the whole batter will work perfectly. Heat up the pan  and melt a large lump of butter. Lower the heat to medium and pour in the batter. With a spatula, scrape the bottom and move the firm batter into the middle of the pan to prevent the mixture being burnt. Continue until all batter is firm. Turn the cake by covering the pan with a plate before turning. Add some more butter if necessary before sliding the cake onto the pan again, raise the temperature slightly and cook until the cake has browned underneath. Turn one more time. This time add the bacon fat before sliding the cake onto the pan. The cake is done when it’s golden brown on both sides.

Top the cake with the fried Rosemary bacon and enjoy with lingonberry (or cranberry jam). Best served with either milk or beer.

This recipe was first published at Honest Cooking26 January 2012.

Cooking in Marrakesh – Semolina Pancakes

The best tagine I have ever had is the one I cooked myself while attending a cooking class in Marrakesh, Morocco. Its probably also the only proper tagine I have ever had. Raja (the cook) who really did most of the work that day, also led me carefully through and demonstrated every step in how to make other traditional Moroccan dishes such as salad, Berber bread and chocolate layered semolina pancakes. I watched and learned. Smelled and ate. It was absolutely my best day in Marrakesh.

The day started at an indoor market in Mellah (one of the neighborhoods inside Medina) where I could pick meat and vegetables for the cooking lesson. The market had everything from meat (even live chickens), vegetables, bread and milk. We got some beef, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, chili and olives for the tagine and some apricots, eggs and dark chocolate for desert.

The salad we made was really simple and fresh. Just finely chopped onion, cucumber, yellow pepper and tomato. Seasoned with a splash of olive oil, salt and freshly chopped mint.

The beef tagine was cooked in a traditional ceramic tagine cookware on low heat for about 3 hours. At the bottom we arranged onions, garlic and chopped fresh cilantro. The cookware was placed on the stove and the heat was set to low. The meat was placed on top and spices (ginger powder, cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper) were added at the edges around the meat. When the meat had been turned once we arranged carrots, potatoes, zucchini, one whole chili, ½ lemon, olives and parsley on top. Lastly we poured in a mixture of both olive and sunflower oil. Before the tagine “hat” was placed on top, a little water was added. Now and again we scooped up the cooking liquid and poured it over the vegetables and meat. In this way all ingredients got a nice taste of the spices without moving them around.

The semolina Berber bread  we made was baked on top of the stove in a skillet. In Morocco, bread is  served to almost any meal during the day and a must when having tagine. Raja’s recipe used only semolina flour but I stumbled upon some breads in the city that seem to have a mixture of semolina and wheat flour. Unfortunately they were not as nice. Our local deli (a hole in the wall) in Kasbah sold something that looked like a rye version of the bread. That was amusing!

The sweet dessert semolina pancakes were really the thing that won my heart and also something that was new to me. These pancakes should not be mistaken for the more well known pancake, begrhir. Begrhir is a yeast based semolina pancake that is often served for breakfast with honey. These pancakes are baked on only one side and the yeast create decorative holes on the surface. Raja’s dessert pancakes were sweeter and made with baking powder. They create similar decorative holes but are baked on both sides.

Below I have tried to translate Raja’s semolina pancake recipe as best I could. Raja used a typical Moroccan teacup when measuring the ingredients, so her cup measure was slightly less than a standard measuring cup. My recipe is as close as I could come!

Sweet Semolina Pancakes
serves 2-4 people

one egg
½ cup sugar ( I used sucanut)
½ cup milk (+ more if batter is too thick)
¾ cup semolina
one teaspoon baking powder
¼  sunflower oil (optional)*

zest from one lemon**
one teaspoon ground cardamom**

I don’t really remember the order Raja mixed the ingredients together but I did it this way: Whisk egg and sugar until well blended before adding the milk. Mix together semolina flour and baking powder. Add the semolina mixture to the batter and whisk well together (make sure there are no lumps). Add the oil, lemon zest and cardamom. Let the batter rest for 15-30 minutes before baking the pancakes.

Heat up a frying pan with some neutral oil (if using nonstick you don’t need any oil in the pan). When the pan is hot lower the heat to medium. Spoon up some batter in the pan with a sauce ladle (You may need to add more milk to the batter if it’s too heavy. It should be fairly easy to pour into a pan). When the pancake has nice decorative holes and starts to get firm on top flip the pancake over. The other side should now have a nice brown color. Press down the pancake with your spatula so the pancake doesn’t rise. Continue until done. Repeat until batter is finished.

It may take some time to get used to how much batter you need for every pancake. A finished pancake should be about 1/8” thick.

Serve the pancakes with sour cream and seasonal fruit and berries for breakfast or brunch. I loved it with a simple apple & orange fruit salad spiced with mint and chopped pistachio. The pancakes can also be done as Raja’s desert, layered with melted dark chocolate (she added some neutral oil to the chocolate) and topped with fresh mint and fruit of your choice. Serve it cool when the chocolate is firm.

*Raja used some neutral oil in the batter and fried the pancakes in a non-stick frying pan. As I didn’t use a non-stick pan I learned that the pancakes got a little greasy with oil both in the batter and in the pan.  They still tasted great but got firmer and easier to handle with oil only in the pan.
**Raja didn’t flavor her pancakes with cardamom and lemon, instead she used 1-2 teaspoons vanilla sugar. I just didn’t have any at home when re-creating the recipe. Both versions are equally delicious.

If you planing to go to Marrakesh and want to participate in a cooking class, I can warmly recommend Raja’s class. Contact Jean Peres at Riad Dar One for details and booking.

Story and recipe was originally posted at EcoSalon on 19th January 2012.