Yuki Sugiura

Swedish winters are long, dark and cold. It can be really difficult to leave the sofa when it’s utterly freezing outside. When my friend, Axel, first moved to London for work, I asked him how he was finding it compared to Stockholm. “It’s great,” he replied. “In the winter, you can make plans after work to go out, go to the pub or for a meal. In Stockholm it’s too cold.”

This was perhaps a slight exaggeration but the Swedes have developed some excellent coping strategies for the winter months. They dress properly, prepare their homes and vehicles and adjust their routines. And then there’s fredagsmys. Roughly translated as “cosy Friday” this phenomenon has been going since the 90s, driven by an advertising campaign by one of the main snack brands (complete with a catchy song). The idea was that you hunkered down with your family and indulged in front of a film or TV programme. Favourite foods include pizza, noodles, popcorn and pick ‘n’ mix sweets. But the most popular dish, by far, is tacos.

Having tacos, complete with all the sauces and sides, on a Friday is a Swedish institution. There are supermarket aisles dedicated to fredagsmys with Tex Mex at the centre. And who can blame the Swedes – it’s delicious.

I love the idea of elevating Friday evening to something special, a chance to spend time together and relax after a busy week with some indulgent, comforting food. Here are some of my versions of fredagsmys favourites, with a slightly lighter twist.

“Since I moved here, all I do is mys and mys” [From the Fredagsmys song by crisp manufacturer Owl, circa 2009]

Wild tacos with venison, pickled red onion, grilled guacamole, coriander & feta


Quantity Ingredient
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons paprika
pinch chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil or olive oil, plus extra for frying
600g venison steaks

For the guacamole

Quantity Ingredient
2 ripe avocados
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 small handful coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped
pinch chilli flakes

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
Grilled mackerel salad with sourdough croûtons, tarragon Caesar dressing & quick pickled red onion, pickled red onion
small soft corn tortillas or taco shells
sliced pickled or fresh chillies
lime wedges
coriander, roughly chopped
feta, crumbled


  1. Begin by making the marinade. In a large bowl, combine all of the spices with the sugar and plenty of salt and pepper. Tip in the garlic, lime juice and zest and whisk together with the oil. Trim any fat and sinew off the venison steaks, then turn the steaks in the marinade to coat well. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, but ideally overnight.
  2. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and fry the steaks for 4–5 minutes on each side for medium-rare, more for very thick steaks. Set aside covered with a little foil or baking parchment to rest while you make the guacamole.
  3. Heat a griddle pan to scorching hot. Halve, peel and stone the avocados and place cut side down on the griddle. Grill until charred and starting to soften, about 4 minutes, then flip over and repeat on the other side. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. Roughly mash the avocados in a bowl with a generous pinch of sea salt, pepper and the lime juice. Add the lime zest, red onion, coriander and chilli flakes and taste to adjust the seasoning.
  5. Slice the steaks thinly and place on a platter, sprinkled with a few coriander leaves. Serve with the guacamole, pickled onion and all of the accoutrements, allowing your guests to get stuck in.

Salmon burgers with crunchy corn salsa, & lime & jalapeño mayo


Quantity Ingredient

For the burgers

Quantity Ingredient
4 skinless salmon fillets
1 small bunch coriander
1 egg, beaten
50g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced
cold-pressed rapeseed oil or olive oil, for frying
4 burger buns or large lettuce leaves, to serve

For the salsa

Quantity Ingredient
2 fresh corn-on-the-cobs
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 green pepper, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the mayonnaise

Quantity Ingredient
2 egg yolks
1 fat garlic clove, crushed
1 pickled jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 lime, zested and juiced
300ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil or vegetable oil


  1. For the burgers, finely chop the salmon and the stems from the coriander (reserve the leaves for the salsa). Place in a large bowl with the egg, breadcrumbs, chilli, and lime zest and juice. Season and mix to combine. Alternatively, blitz briefly in a food processor until the mixture comes together. Form into 4 rounded patties and set aside.
  2. For the salsa, cut the corn kernels from the cobs and place in a bowl. Roughly chop the reserved coriander leaves and add to the bowl of corn with the red onion, chilli and green pepper. Make a quick dressing by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, paprika and a little salt and pepper. Dress the salsa and set aside while you make the mayonnaise.
  3. Place the egg yolks into a large bowl with the garlic, jalapeño pepper and lime juice and zest and whisk with electric beaters while you slowly pour in the oil, trickling it into the mixture in a thin stream until you have a thick mayonnaise. Pop in the fridge.
  4. Heat a generous glug of oil in a large frying pan and fry the salmon burgers over a medium heat for 7 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.
  5. Serve in the buns or lettuce leaves with the mayonnaise and salsa along with any combination of extras, such as lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber, pickled gherkins, sliced avocado, capers and tomato chutney.

Spelt pizza with mushrooms, potatoes & fresh cheese


Quantity Ingredient

For the fresh cheese

Quantity Ingredient
2 litres whole milk
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 lemon, zested and juiced

For the pizza

Quantity Ingredient
350g wholemeal spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil or olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
3-4 small potatoes, very thinly sliced
150g mixed mushrooms, sliced
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
1 large handful rocket, to serve
parmesan, shaved, to serve


  1. To make the cheese, place the milk in a large saucepan with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Slowly bring to the boil then immediately remove from the heat. Add the 2–3 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar and stir until you can see the mixture splitting into curds and whey. If this doesn’t happen, add more vinegar or lemon.
  2. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with muslin [cheesecloth]. If you have a bag for making jelly or nut milks, you can also use this. Squeeze the muslin or bag a little and discard the resulting liquid, but it shouldn’t be too dry. Tip into a bowl with the lemon zest, a squeeze of the juice and a little seasoning. Place a plate directly on the curds and weigh down with a couple of heavy cans. Chill for at least 2 hours. The cheese is now ready to eat and will keep in the fridge for up to a week (stir in a little milk if it is not creamy enough).
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C and lightly grease 2 baking sheets. For the pizza, mix the flour, baking powder, oregano and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a large bowl. Place 250ml “finger warm” (just warm to touch) water in a jug with the oil and slowly add this to the dry ingredients, mixing constantly. The mixture should come together to form a dough, but if very dry, mix in a little more water.
  4. Divide the pizza dough in half and flatten to form ovals on the prepared baking sheets. Spread the cheese over the bases and top with the thinly sliced potato. Scatter over the mushrooms and rosemary and drizzle over some oil and seasoning. Bake for 17–20 minutes, until puffed up and golden, swapping the trays halfway through cooking so that they both get some of the heat from the top of the oven. Serve topped with rocket and shaved Parmesan.
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