Every month of Around the World in Twelve Plates has been a learning adventure. It’s been a journey of sorts; of flavours, techniques, and textures. I have been so fortunate to share it with my family (I know they appreciate it!) and blogger friends who I hope have gained a wealth of knowledge and appreciation for the food world around them like I have. This month’s country was…Sweden! Again, I was familiar with all the commonly known Swedish treats and dishes, after all I HAVE been to IKEA. Fun fact about IKEA: It’s the same where ever you are in the world which means that when we lived in Perth and we craved a North America style hot dog, we made a trip to IKEA. That’s not to say hot dogs are Swedish in any way but there you go. It’s been ages since I’ve been to the cafeteria at our IKEA here in Calgary. I used to take the kids up for a treat, mostly for meatballs, then drop them off at Småland so I could shop by myself (here I could add ‘in peace’ but we’ve all been to IKEA and know that it’s anything but peaceful shopping).I like to think of Swedes as the most hipster of Europeans, that is THE most European Europeans and maybe it’s just a stereotype that I am perpetuating here but these guys are the ultimate. They know what they want in life and what they want is to feel awesome, pure, and they do it in the most minimalist way possible. Case in point…have you ever had to put together a shelf from IKEA? Those are some minimal instructions, though I would point out that they rarely make you feel awesome unless by some chance you finish with a stable shelf at the very end of it all. Kudos to you. So anyway, the Swedes have words for feelings that can’t be really explained by a series of words. You’ve probably heard of Danish or Norwegian term Hygge which Wikipedia describes as ‘a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. In recent years it has been described as a defining characteristic of Danish culture’. So yeah, those Danes are pretty laid back too. It shouldn’t be any surprise that the Swedes have their own word for this feeling…it’s called Lagom. There have been so many times when I’ve stopped in my tracks and thought, “this IS amazing, it’s really where I should be right now and everything is awesome!” but of course I never really knew that feeling could be expressed in such a way. I originally was going to make Swedish Meatballs for this challenge because we are huge meatball fans (of any kind) in this house but I knew that wouldn’t be stepping out of my comfort zone at all. I decided to embrace the minimalist purity of Swedish cuisine and chose a dish that brought me Lagom. It does feel a bit strange that I have not done any actual cooking for this challenge, the Räksmörgås is the ultimate good-for-you Swedish lunch but it really only is an assembly of all things delicious. The key to a great Räksmörgås (Swedish Bling Sandwich) is finding the best ingredients you can get. Fresh dill, crispy lettuce, mouthwatering tomatoes and cucumbers. Don’t be tempted to keep adding ingredients, the simpler the Räksmörgås, the better it is. I used a Russian Rye bread with bags of flavour, then spread a very thin layer of mayonnaise on it’s surface. Hey, I didn’t even cook the shrimp. If I was in Europe, I’d be using fresher prawns but these cooked and frozen salad shrimp did very nicely…just thaw and arrange over the bed of lettuce and cucumber! A few scattered scallions, some fresh dill, and a splash of fresh lemon juice is all you need. The ultimate minimalist indulgence.
Around the World in Twelve Plates – Swedish Räksmörgås
- 3 slices thickly sliced rye bread (or other tasty artisan loaf)
- mayonnaise (homemade or store bought, I won’t judge)
- 1 pkg Cooked Frozen Salad Shrimp; thawed and patted dry
- cherry tomatoes
- fresh dill
- 1 scallion (green or Spring onions); sliced
MethodSpread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the surface of the bread slices. Arrange fresh lettuce and cucumber slices over top of the bread. Carefully arrange a handful of salad shrimp over the lettuce and cucumber. I used a ring mold but even then some escaped! Add tomatoes; scatter fresh dill and sliced scallions. Drizzle with a bit of fresh lemon juice. Smakling måltid!
I bet all the other collaborating bloggers have been up to something special for this penultimate issue of Around the World in Twelve Plates…check them out here:
Nicoletta and Loreto at Sugar Love Spices made some hearty Swedish Potato Pancakes
Gabby Peyton at The Food Girl in Town baked up a Swedish Princess Cake
Korena Vine from Korena in the Kitchen with Swedish Kanelbullar & Chokladbiskvier