‘This is very a strange dish … I don’t think these flavours go together’. My new friend and Stockholm tour guide, Ingrid, screws up her face as she says this, as though I have just shown her a picture of cod served with chocolate and whipped cream, with a Brussels sprout on top. Over lunch she has asked about what I cook now that I am living in Sweden, and I proudly tell her that I am trying my hand at the local cuisine. This brutal comment comes after I show her the picture above, of a dish I have made several times since arriving in Sweden – pea and potato pancakes topped with buttery cod fillets and lingonberry jam. I thought I was onto a winner when I showed her this pic. I had all the Scando staples here – the lingonsylt, the Norwegian cod, the mashed potato creatively transformed into a yummy pancake infused with dill. What was not to love?! But as we ate our ox steaks med frites och Béarnaise sås (they love Béarnaise sauce here), I could see there was no impressing this Stockholm native with my concoction a la Scandorama. I felt like a defeated Swedish wannabe as I put away my phone and tried to redeem myself with a mention of Swedish meatballs. But it seemed useless. I had lost her.
Ingrid, if you are reading this, I promise this tastes really good! I’ve done some crazy things in my life, but this isn’t one of them. If you ever do decide to make this, let me know what you think!
Ps. Thank you for picking up a complete stranger from in front of her hostel, all because your friend Monica called and said that she had met an Australian lady on the train (see My Swedish salad) and asked if you could please show her around! Thank you for showing me your glorious home town.
4 large pieces of cod fillets, skinned and deboned
40 g butter
2 tablespoons fresh parsley and/or dill, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
3 spring onions, chopped
½ cup peas
2 tablespoons fresh dill and chives, chopped
2 tablespoons melted butter and extra for frying
½ cup flour
½ cup milk
sea salt and black pepper
(Serves 4, or 2 hungry people!)
Place the cooled, mashed potato into a bowl and add 2/3 of the spring onions, the peas, herbs and butter. Combine the ingredients and season to taste. Add the flour and mix until just combined, then make a well in the centre and add the milk and egg. Stir until the mixture is smooth and has a pancake batter-like consistency that is thick but runny.
Season the lovely cod fillets on a chopping board and add a little olive oil, gently rubbing the ingredients into both sides of the fish. The fish will only take a few minutes to cook, so have both frying pans ready. Heat a large frying pan for the pancakes and add about a tablespoon of butter. When the butter has just melted, add a ladleful of pancake mixture to the pan. Swirl the pan around to even out the mixture, then after about 3o seconds to a minute when the mixture should have set, flip the pancake over and cook for another minute. Both sides should be golden. Continue cooking the pancakes in this way. You should end up with four or five pancakes.
In the meantime, get the other frying pan going on a medium to high heat, and melt about 40 g of butter. Once the butter has melted, add the fish to the pan. With Moscow circus-like efforts, continue to baste the fish with the butter, and keep a watchful eye on your pancakes. After a couple of minutes on one side, gently flip them over and continue basting the cooked side. After about a minute, throw in the herbs and keep basting. Once the fish is cooked, turn the heat off and leave the fish to rest for 30 seconds or so.
Place the buttery fish on top of a fluffy pancake and then drizzle or just pour the lingonberry jam on top (I’m a pourer … love the lingonsylt!) and add some spring onions. I dare you to cook it and eat it and like it!