Lohikeitto with Wild Alaskan Coho
Since the earliest conquests of the Vikings, the bedrock of traditional Nordic fare has been an abundance of fish, seafood, root vegetables and berries. Lengthy, cold, dark winters meant storing up food supplies from a short growing season. Present day dishes are comprised of some of the same Viking foods that would have been stored in ancient ship galleys as they raided and sailed across the Atlantic, or Baltic Seas.
One timeless dish still served today is a hearty, yet light, cream-based salmon and root vegetable soup called Lohikeitto (Lohi-salmon, keitto-soup in Finnish). It is a favorite in Finland’s northern most sub-arctic wilderness region, Lapland, where the Tana River flows and reindeer, moose, birds, and grey seal are abundant. The Tana is said to be the best salmon river in Europe and runs into the Tana fjord. The delta is the one of the largest pristine delta areas in Europe.
Finnish salmon soup uses very simple ingredients and certainly is not fancy. But, if you are Viking marauding across Scandinavia, or a modern day trapper mushing huskies through rugged terrain checking lines in -45º degree F temperatures, Lohikeitto yields the metabolic energy and gut warming thermal energy you need. It also proves to be good fare on a chilly Sunday after chopping wood for the fireplace, or snowshoeing through the back forty here in Minnesota.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
· 2 T butter
· 1 leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
· 4 cups fish stock (vegetable, or wild turkey stock will also work)
· 1 lb potatoes, cubed
· 1 carrot, sliced
· 1 lb salmon fillet, de-boned, de-skinned and cut into small chunks
· 1 cup of ½ & ½ cream
· ½ cup fresh dill for garnish, finely chopped
· salt and pepper to taste
(NOTE: This recipe used coho (silver) salmon caught on the fly in the Togiak River, Alaska. Guide: Stephen Burns of Tikchik Narrows Lodge. Scroll down to see the author with her fish!)
Remove the skin from the salmon, cut into 1 inch chunks and set aside. In a 3-4 quart enameled cast iron pot melt butter and gently sauté the leek until translucent. Add the stock, cubed potatoes, and sliced carrot. Bring to a low boil and cook until potato is fork tender. Pour cream into a separate bowl and slowly whisk in about ½ - ¾ cups of the hot broth. Then stir warm cream mixture into pot. (This keeps the cream from curdling when added to the pot.) Gently lay in the salmon chunks and cook about 5 minutes, or until salmon is done. Sprinkle on chopped dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with fresh kale, rye bread or toast, a squish of lemon and a few radish sprouts if desired.