25 (Mon) January 2021
Pasta and Salmon Pudding
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
On 23 October 2012 – exactly 99 months ago – Number One Swedish Fan GK and I began a virtual culinary exchange (see 3.292 Köttbullar) wherein he would make Korean dishes and I would make Swedish dishes, and we’d share photos and comments, which were posted on GMTD. We completed 5 rounds (see most recently 4.168 Köttbullar with 3D Mash), then just stopped for no particular reason.
The exchange continued in different forms, including in-person meetings – a career highlight of GMTD is the time when I served Swedish meatballs to a Swede in my own home (see 4.227 Köttbullar med Lingonsylt) – and care packages of cookbooks and ingredients (see 5.100 Tomatsill on Baguette Slices).
I am very pleased to announce that GK and I have agreed to resume the virtual culinary exchange.
The cookbook that GK sent me is Traditional Swedish Cooking (2011) by Caroline Hofberg. It’s a gorgeous book filled with colorful photos that confirm Swedes to be blonde and beautiful and blessed, spending their time enjoying lavish picnics at lakeside farms. According to the recipes, Swedes eating nothing but potatoes and stinky fish, occasionally antlered animals of the tundra, always prepared with some kind of cream/cheese-based sauce, plus berries and more berries of all kinds in all forms on every dish and every drink.
- Potatoes: Potato Pie with Apple and Herbs, Potato Salad with Asparagus, New Potato Salad with Salmon Sauce, Almond Potato Soup with Anchovies, Root Vegetable Salad with Herb Vinaigrette, Elk Stew with Root Vegetables, Root Vegetable Gratin, Root Vegetable Lobscouse, Root Vegetable Jansson, Jansson’s Medley, Caviar and Potato Box, Chanterelle Mash, Mustard Mash, Primeur Salad, Sailor Potatoes (see 5.126 Creamy Sailor Potatoes with Pan-Fried Halibut).
- Stinky fish: Anchovy Tart, Captain Medley, Old Man’s Medley, Jansson’s Medley, Buckling Medley, Sandwich with Buckling, Marinated Baltic Herring on Crisp Bread, Buckling Box with Horseradish, Striped Buckling Box, Herring Box with Roe Sauce, Lemon and Onion Herring, Aquavit Herring with Root Vegetables, Juniper Berry Herring, Herring Salad, Schnapps Salad (also includes potatoes), Sweet-Pickled Salad with Apple Sauce (also includes potatoes), Cod Burgers with Anchovy Dressing, Salmon-Filled Herring.
- Berries: Lingonberry Cheesecake, Crumb Pie with Lingon and Pear, Lemon Cheesecake with Vodka-Spiced Berries, Currant Fromage, Strawberry Elderflower Parfait, Strawberries with Raw Cream, Current Pie with Meringue, Strawberry Suisse with Luxurious Chocolate Sauce, Lingon Panna Cotta, Berry Dessert with Topping, Milk Chocolate Cake (also includes raspberries), Strawberry Pie with White Chocolate Cream, Cloudberry Charlotte, Roll Cake with Raspberry Cream, Berry Muffins, Berry Squares, Lingon Cookes with Oat Crisp, Hazelnut Canapés with Cloudberries, Apple and Blueberry Cake, Gingerbread Muffins with Lingonberries, Raspberry and Currant Jam, Gooseberry Jam with Vanilla, Cloudberry Jam with Cinnamon, Blackberry Jam with Vanilla, Rhubarb and Strawberry Marmalade, Tangy Currant Compote, Pickled Cherries, Lingonberry Chutney, Squash with Black Currant Leaves, Fall Salad with Lingon Dressing, Juniper Berry Burger with Lingon Coleslaw, Fillet of Venison with Lingonberries and Gin, Raspberry Juice with Vanilla, Cherry Liqueur, Cloudberry Liqueur, Hot Juniper Berry and Bitter Orange Drink, Lingon Dry Martini. (Good thing I have a lot of lingonberry jam.)
Makes me wonder if my open-faced herring sandwich the other day was more Swedish than Spanish (see 12.006 Three Herrings and a Loaf of Bread).
GK holds a critical advantage in this exchange because he’s had direct exposure to Korean cuisine. If I recall correctly, I think he had roomed with Korean exchange students while in Australia for a while, then he’s visited Korea (where we met up), and he’s eaten at Korean restaurants. These experiences give him first-hand knowledge of specific Korean dishes and a general awareness of Korean culinary traditions.
On the other hand, I have no solid frames of reference. Only on-line recipes, a single cookbook, a cafeteria meal at IKEA (see 11.169 Swedish Meatballs), and a few random tips from GK – though come to think of it, GK was fooled just a couple days ago into thinking that baby elephant stew is a Swedish delilcacy (see 12.018 A Nice Roasted Elephant with Onions and Brown Gravy), so maybe he’s not a reliable expert on Swedish food. So, when I see something like Fillet of Venison with Lingonberries and Gin, I don’t know if it’s a traditional dish, how it fits into a broader spread, what it’s supposed to taste like. Also difficult to acquire certain Swedish ingredients in Korea – what the fuck is an elderflower? – though GK presumably has his own difficulties with Korean ingredients in Sweden.
That said, I tried the Pasta and Salmon Pudding. Described in the cookbook as: “A mix between salmon pudding and macaroni. Two classics in one delectable dish.” I don’t know what salmon pudding is, but generally the dish appeared to be a casserole with simple and accessible ingredients, and a very easy 3-step process.
Alas, it didn’t turn out so great. After 30 minutes in the oven, the casserole came out perfectly browned. But underneath, the milk and egg sauce had dripped to the bottom in a watery pool, leaving the layers of macaroni and peas and smoked salmon and spinach completely dry. The components themselves were okay, so the dish was pretty good to eat with additional salt and pepper and lots of Tabasco Sauce.
Incidentally, my family had already eaten an early dinner by the time that I got home. But I’d prepped the ingredients from the night before, so I went ahead and made the dish for myself. Ordinarily, I would make such special dishes when everyone can share the experience. Good thing to be solo this time.
PART 1 : KIMCHI
Me: After all these years, GK remains an overachiever, at least where Korean cooking is concerned, or least in the context of our virtual culinary exchanges. While I focused on a single dish, he made a full spread. To give full credit to his efforts, I will show the spread in 3 parts, each part presented in a separate post alongside a dish by me.
GK: The recipe I used for making kimchi is actually a mix from the one in the Swedish language korean cookbook Koreansk Mat, and the one website Maangchi has for “mak kimchi” (https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/easy-kimchi).
I have used the methods for making “mak” kimchi that Maangchi demonstrates, since the Swedish recipe takes the more traditional way of preserving the leaves and putting the paste between them. I have also taken the proportions of the amount of gojucharu from Maangchi’s recipe, since the Swedish recipe calls for 5 tablespoons for 2 kg of cabbage, while Maangchi calls for about 2 dl.
GK: For the actual ingredients, I have mostly used the ones in the Swedish recipe, not squid and so on like Maangchi.
- 3 kg of napa cabbage
- 1,5 dl of kosher salt
- 250 g of radish
- 3 Tbs of ginger
- 3 Tbs of ginger
- 3 dl of leek chopped
- 3 dl of gojucharu
- 1 Tbs of sugar
- 1 Tbs of fish sauce
The last time I added the “rice flour porridge” that Maangchi uses in her recipe. Plus I don’t think I used leek. I found using the porridge made the kimchi paste adhere much better to the cabbage. I also found that my gojucharu has a much more vibrant strong red color since I learned that an opened package should be stored in the freezer. This made the finished kimchi look much “redder” than I’m used to.
GK: Overall I felt it was a success. I find the process to make a lot of kimchi just as time consuming as making a smaller batch, so why not make a lot when you’re doing it?
Me: This is in itself a remarkable achievement. People make their own kimchi at home ever more rarely these days, with so many great packaged kimchi brands in stores. Homemade kimchi demands passion and dedication, and a lot of work. And perhaps need is a critical factor, like living in a country where kimchi isn’t sold at the corner market.
I’ll never forget that a Swede shamed me into making kimchi myself for the first time many years ago (see 4.172 Ggagdugi with Pyeonyuk).
Since then – while I was living in the Philippines, where kimchi is sold at the corner market – I’ve been developing my own recipe (see 11.144 Kimchi Paste), which is remarkably different than the one GK used above. While both start with a similar 1 cup (250 ml) vs 3 dl (300 ml) of gochugaru, the other ingredients are wildly imbalanced: 25 cloves vs 3 tablespoons of garllic, 6 tablespoons of anchovy sauce + 2 tablespoons of shrimp paste vs 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, 12 tablespoons of plum extract vs 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 tablespoons of rock salt + 2 tablespoons of beef bouillon powder vs 1.5 dl of salt. Just comparing these amounts, my initial impression is that GK’s kimchi would be saltier but far less pungent, which could be more amenable for Swedish palates. Then again, Swedes do seem to like stinky fish, so perhaps he could try to up the pungency.
My general understanding of fish sauces available on the global market is that they are typically Southeast Asian style, like those found in Vietnam or Thailand, which are light and sweetish (not Swedish), great as a condiment for noodle soups, stir-fries, etc. But Korean anchovy sauce is much denser and fishier, produced specifically for kimchi – Koreans would never ever use it as a condiment for noodle soups, stir-fries, etc.
Finally, if I may humbly suggest for your next kimchi endeavor, how about trying to make it in the traditional whole-leaf (pogi) style? Big batches of kimchi, especially chopped into small pieces, can quickly get overripe, too strong to be eaten as is, good only for kimchi stews and kimchi fried rice, which are great of course but anyway. However, keeping the leaves intact allows the kimchi to ferment much slower, which also facilitates a much richer flavor and preserves the crispy texture of the cabbage (see for example 9.093 My Kimchi). When I send you the ingredients, step up to the challenge!
All around, from both sides, this was yet another excellent exchange – what a fantastic reboot.
For Part 2, I will attempt a dish of potatoes and stinky fish, of course with cream: Jansson’s Medley. GK, some background on this Jansson guy would be much appreciated.
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)