One of the best parts of Finnish summer is undoubtedly having ample amounts of fresh fish. To me, nothing says summer better than sitting with my family on our cabin deck overlooking lake Saimaa enjoying a quintessential nordic meal in the sunshine.
I was born into a family of skillful cooks.My mother is a crazy good cook. She can make gourmet out of canned tomatoes and saltine crackers. I don’t understand the method to her maddness while she’s doing it, and each time I see a completely empty refrigerator I wonder, how is she going to do it this time, she ends up making something delectable and it frustrates me. I definitely didn’t inherit this trait. My brother, Mike, did, he’s a mighty fine chef. He clearly got all the cooking genes. But me? I suck. No, I’m not being humble. I really do suck.
And then there’s my dad, who can make you never want to eat another cooks steaks again. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, I think because I’m subconsciously aware that I will be disappointed if it’s prepared by anyone else but my Dad!
I can bake and I guess that (partly?) makes up for it, but I’ve never had a good hand at cooking. Or spices. Or how long to cook anything before it turns to charcoal. Or how to properly respond to my mother when I ask her “how much do I add?” and she replies “I don’t know really… the right amount.” Or, “which spices should I add?” “I don’t know, just smell them.” (<— !?!?!?!!?!?!!!!!!?!)
Every time I cook with her I try to pick up a few pieces of kitchen wisdom (futile) and this time was no different. My mom made probably one of my favorite summer dishes: salmon. She practically forbade me from photographing it (especially putting it on public display) because it was “too basic”. But the idea of the recipes I want to include on here are ones that are simple. Recipes that even cooking amateurs like myself could recreate. Healthy, simple and delicious 🙂
Normally we’d grill fish, and we bought a new grill this summer (a must have for a cabin summer!) but my brother wants to christen it so we’re stuck with the oven and stove until he gets here. Although knowing Chef Mama,
she’ll we’ll manage.
So here I introduce to you:
KISS salmon = Keep It Simple Salmon !
Recipe from my mama.
Warm a skillet on the stove. Pour enough vegetable/canola oil (rypsiöljy) to coat the bottom. Chop up a bunch of random vegetables you have on hand, we had onion, whole garlic cloves (a staple in this household) , peppers, sliced thin new potatoes and sweet potatoes. Naturally the pots take longer so put those on first, crisper vegetables later. While those are cooking away, season your fish. We have some really wonderful spice mixes from Penzeys which are magic herbs (not what it sounds like…) but I’ve learned they suit nearly every dish and can help amateurs like me when indecisive and unsure about suitable spices. (My favorite Penzeys spice mixes are Fines Herbes and Parisien)
Sprinkle a fresh salmon, about half a kg (that’s about 1 pound my American friends) with Fines Herbes spice mix or equivalent (chives, dill weed, French basil, French tarragon, chervil and white pepper) until evenly coated. Finalize with a thin coat of sea salt.
You can sprinkle these spices onto the vegetables as well!
When potatoes feel about half cooked, place salmon skin upward onto skillet. Turn salmon after a few minutes. Salmon is finished when it flakes with a fork. This takes less than 10 minutes! Don’t overcook salmon, as it will turn into a rubbery mess.
When the salmon and vegetables are cooked, sprinkle a generous portion of fresh chopped herbs on top. We always have on hand whatever herbs are in season. Now in Finland that means chives, parsley and dill. We put these into our salads too!
I’m such a wine connoisseur so I even have a Hungarian wine to recommend! It’s called Sauska Cuvee 2013. I found it at my local Spar for about 1,300ft so 4€ ! (oh the joys of living in Hungary! 😀 )
I’m currently writing this from our porch swing next to the water whilst being serenaded by these quacks.
I love my little duck friends.
Until next time! 🙂