It’s cosy Swedish comfort food at its best – and hearty enough to ensure some ballast on board this autumn.
Photography Martin Bruno
Recipe & food styling Aya Nishimura
The New Nordic food movement transformed its creators into celebrities but few folk really hanker for herring 10 ways, emulsions or artfully arranged edibles at home. Instead, this month’s råraka (it’s pronounced raw-raa-ka), a Swedish riff on the potato rosti, pays homage to an altogether different Scandinavian tradition – and one definitely worth reviving. Husmanskost, or “home food”, may lack the worthiness of New Nordic’s foraged, foamed and fussy creations but is similarly rooted in Sweden’s past and available produce.
The mainstays of Swedish cookery were always fish, shellfish, milk, root vegetables, onions, apples and plenty of pork – often boiled, rarely spiced. These staples gave us stodgy specialities: meatballs with mash and a dollop of lingonberry jam; pea soup; milk-cooked macaroni with slices of salty falukorv (sausage); plus a smörgåsbord of other delights. Fatty dishes, they would have provided nutritional ballast to labourers and kept the working classes hale and productive throughout the long, dark winters. Today these recipes provide comfort food in its purest and most enjoyable forms.
Råraka is usually plated up with sour cream, red onion and löjrom (vendace roe). It developed on the west coast while raggmunk, a similar recipe with added bacon or pork, is more of a wintery affair and hails from Småland in Sweden’s south. Those clever Danish chefs may have transformed what we all understand by Scandinavian food with their New Nordic Manifesto but there’s plenty to be learned from the merits of Sweden’s culinary traditions too. Smaklig måltid and enjoy.
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3 large potatoes (about 750g), peeled
½ tsp of sea salt
240g smoked salmon
50g roe (salmon caviar)
1 tbsp grated fresh horseradish root
½ small red onion, finely chopped
10g chives, finely chopped
10g dill, finely chopped (set aside some sprigs for decoration)
½ lemon, cut into 4 wedges
- First, prepare your råraka. Grate potatoes on the thickest side of a box grater. Add the salt and massage it into the potato.
- Heat frying pan over a medium/high heat. Add a knob of butter and then a tablespoonful of the potato. Press with the back of the spoon to make a thin pancake. Fry until golden brown (5 to 7 minutes). Flip and fry the other side; repeat with the rest of the mixture. Keep the cooked pancakes in a warm oven.
- For the toppings, mix the sour cream with the horseradish cream and dill. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix the chopped red onion and chives.
- Place the warm pancakes on a plate. Top with smoked salmon, the cream, the onion mixture and the salmon roe. Decorate with sprigs of dill. Squeeze with the fresh lemon and serve.