Stars of Nordic cuisine spice up Seattle

Flavors mix at the Nordic Heritage Museum’s second Nordic Culinary Conference

Photo: Håkan Axelsson / courtesy of NHM
From left to right: chef Sasu Laukkonen of Chef & Sommelier in Helsinki; Kalle Bergman, founder of Honest Cooking; chef Gunnar Gíslason of Agern in New York and Dill in Reykjavík; and Titti Qvarnstrom of Malmö’s Bloom in the Park.

Daytona Strong
Taste of Norway Editor

The Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle hosted an impressive lineup of special guests including Michelin-starred chefs from the Nordic region at the Nordic Culinary Conference in May. Headlined by Claus Meyer, the architect of the Manifesto for the New Nordic Kitchen and co-founder of Noma in Copenhagen, the conference offered attendees an opportunity to learn firsthand about the cuisine in an intimate setting.

Photo: Håkan Axelsson / courtesy of NHM
Claus Meyer, co-founder of the world-famous Noma.

The museum’s second Nordic Culinary Conference (the first one in 2016 featured Norway’s Andreas Viestad, host of New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS, among other chefs) also included chef Gunnar Gíslason of Agern in New York City and Dill in Reykjavík, Iceland, who presented tastings of a variety of bites that diners might enjoy. Chef Sasu Laukkonen of Chef & Sommelier in Helsinki taught attendees about Finnish seafood and how to make classic Finnish Karelian pies like his grandma made them. Titti Qvarnstrom of Malmö’s Bloom in the Park represented Sweden and led sessions on Swedish fermenting and pickling and on curing fish. (She’s the first female chef in Sweden who’s received a Michelin star.) Kalle Bergman, the Swedish-born food writer and founder of Honest Cooking, returned for the second year.

Nordic cooking has received global attention in recent years since the creation of New Nordic cooking made the food world take notice. The Nordic Culinary Conference provided an opportunity for attendees to get a literal taste of it—without traveling beyond Seattle.

When cured with salt and sugar, a fillet of salmon transforms into a delicacy that fills the mouth with the very essence of the fish—intensified. At once packed with flavor and delicate, gravlax is a truly classic Scandinavian dish and it’s as easy as can be. Titti Qvarnstrom of Sweden’s Bloom in the Park demonstrated how to make it at the Nordic Culinary Conference in Seattle this May. As long as you’re starting with a quality piece of fish and begin a couple of days before you’re planning to serve it, gravlax makes an easy, impressive, and attractive appetizer.

Photo: Daytona Strong
Start with good quality fish and you can’t go wrong with this Nordic classic.

fillet of salmon (previously frozen and thawed)
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. ground black pepper
small handful of fresh dill, roughly chopped

First prepare the salmon by rinsing it and patting it dry and placing it in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, give the salt, sugar, pepper, and dill a stir and then sprinkle it over both sides of the salmon, making sure it’s evenly coated. Place it in the refrigerator and allow the salmon to cure for two days, turning once in the process. When ready to serve, drain off the liquid and pat the salmon dry, removing excess curing ingredients from the surface, and slice very thinly.

Photo: Daytona Strong
Gravlax as a finished appetizer.

Serve with a traditional mustard sauce if you wish, place it over a salad, or use it to top crackers or bread for Nordic canapés.

Daytona Strong is The Norwegian American’s Taste of Norway editor. She writes about her family’s Norwegian heritage through the lens of food at her Scandinavian food blog, Find her on Facebook; Twitter @daytonastrong; Pinterest @daytonastrong; and Instagram @daytonastrong.

This article originally appeared in the June 2, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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