A Wheel and Away

Try Surströmming – Swedish fermented fish

Ulvö Hotel, Ulvön Islands

Surströmming is a traditional dish made of fermented Baltic herring.  Originating in the 16th century, this was initially a method of preserving the fish to make it last but has since become a dish with a reputation in its own right.  It is particularly linked with the north of Sweden and specifically with the Ulvön islands in the High Coast.

Although described a s a delicacy, the truth is that many Swedes either do not like or it have not even tried it.  If prepared incorrectly, the smell of the fish, which is essentially rotten, can be overpowering and most certainly off putting.  Many Swedes recall being made to try it as a child during a traditional Suströmming party or Surströmmingskiva, traditionally held in August.  While for adults this was often helped along with a lot of alcohol, the same was obviously not true for younger members of the family!

Watch YouTube and there will be many a video giving guidance on how to prepare it including under water but this is really not necessary.  There is only one correct way.  It is very simple and negates most of the odour, leaving a dish that, while it is an acquired taste, is actually quite delicious.

It can be served in many ways, the most traditional being simply with potatoes, although many places also serve it on flatbreads with various accompaniments.  it should also be served alongside both beer and schnapps.