Introduction

Introduction

By
Simon Bajada
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742708799
Photographer
Simon Bajada

Yes, this is a book full of recipes to cook from but it is much more than only that. Through the ingredients and methods used, as well as the stories and anecdotes woven throughout, I want to give you an understanding of the food and cooking techniques enjoyed across the region so that you can bring a little Nordic style into your own kitchen and home.

I am often asked, ‘What is new Nordic cuisine?’ It is not an easy question to answer because contemporary Nordic cuisine is constantly evolving. I don’t think we know definitively what it is yet, but I would like to share some of my thoughts on answering the question. It is not a fusion of cuisines, nor is it a simple reinterpretation of Nordic classics. It is not an entirely new set of flavours either. Rather, it centres on an idea. It is a celebration of traditional Nordic methods of sourcing local ingredients – from foraging to fishing and hunting – and preparing them in different ways. I would describe the flavours as earthy, clean and subtle, often with soft contrasts of sweet and sour. Occasionally, it can even be a bit of a challenge to the palate, asking us to test our everyday ideas of how flavours work and to suspend our preconceptions.

New Nordic cuisine is also an overdue appreciation of the histories and cultures of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. And through it, it is a revisiting of often ancient cooking techniques from across the region – usually with a modern twist. At times, it chooses to turn a shoulder to traditions and products from elsewhere in Europe. This may sound idealistic but I believe this strong ethos is what has attracted and maintained the world’s attention over the past ten years or so, since we began to see Nordic chefs and restaurants gaining the reputations they deserve in the culinary world.

This book is not a rhapsody on the wonders of Nordic cooking and it doesn’t intend to be a potted history of the region. My hope is simply that it plants a seed and inspires you to think beyond the cuisines with which you are already familiar. You may cook a recipe and think: ‘That would be better with . . .’ Well, go ahead and change it! Play around with the flavours. As new Nordic cuisine is developing all the time, feel free to make it your own. The only rule I tried to abide by when putting together these recipes was to use ingredients common to Northern Europe. Of course, Nordic folk don’t only cook with ingredients and products from their own region, but I think it brings an authenticity to this wonderfully eclectic cuisine and gives us a clearer understanding of the distinctive flavours from the area. You can use olive oil if you have run out of rapeseed oil; just consider the taste will be different and understand why. The Basics and Larder chapters will familiarise you with how ingredients are used and what their unique properties can bring to a dish, and as you proceed through the chapters I hope you will gain a deeper understanding of how to prepare and serve your own new Nordic dishes.

One particular phrase has stuck with me ever since a Nordic chef placed a dish in front of me and said, ‘Now, we are taking you to the forest floor.’ And the dish did just that: the mushrooms and other wonderfully earthy ingredients took me straight there. New Nordic cuisine mirrors its landscape: raw, subtle, grounded, just like the vast treeless plains of Iceland or the rocky outcrops of the many archipelagos scattered around the coasts. The beauty of the region doesn’t tend to stop you in your tracks; but it will always make you look twice. It will creep up on you until you truly appreciate its harmony and subtle complexity, just like its cuisine.

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