We all have heard of the stories or hints of the experience one has when tasting Surströmming, a Swedish delicacy known for its unmistakable smell. The refreshment, which definitely refreshes your sense of smell, is translated to sour herring. Part of Sweden’s traditional cuisine, Surströmming is becoming widely popular outside of the borders of Scandinavia due to its very distinctive characteristics. Here are some tips to make sure that the first time you taste it, the experience will be remembered in a positive way!
1. Minding your surroundings
There are no two ways about it – the smell is very, very intense. There are several reasons why a can of Surströmming should not be opened inside your house.
First things first, due to the nature of the fermentation of the herring itself, the smell can seep into your walls and you can have a rent-free resident living in your beloved home. While he will be invisible to your vision receptors, your scent receptors will definitely not be pleased with the new tenant.
Secondly, due to the aforementioned fermentation, pressure builds up in the Surströmming can. Thus, as one opens it up with a can opener, fluids can squirt out and worsen the potential side-effects of only opening the can – not even tasting it yet!
2. Prepare for the tasting experience
Not only you have to prepare mentally for the experience but have the right items near you to make sure your Surströmming tasting goes as smoothly as possible.
Surprisingly, a bucket will become your best friend as you open up the can. Unsurprisingly, a can opener is also a must! Now, while eating the sour herring alone is an option, the table should be filled with more ingredients to take the Surströmming experience to the next level:
· Boiled potatoes
· Sour cream or crème fraîche
· Tunnbröd (flatbread)
· A beverage of your choice.
There are variations in regards of the drink to have nearby, a general recommendation is to stock up on some strong liquor like vodka, beer. However, a glass of water or cold milk will do just fine!
3. Opening the can of Surströmming
Although opening a tin can is a simple process, the contents inside the Surströmming can undoubtedly complicate things.
This is the step where the bucket comes in. Fill it with water and bring it outside, as far away from the dining table as possible. Penetrate the can with a can opener of your choice inside the water. Lift the can out of the water and proceed to split it apart, making sure not to drop the salted herring inside of the bucket. Now, bring back the Surströmming to the dining table, much to the delight, and as soon as the smell begins to spread, the disgust of the guests sat at the table!
4. Serving Surströmming
Properly preparing and serving Surströmming is not a complicated process and will only allow one to enjoy the sour herring that much more.
Firstly, if the Surströmming you have purchased is not a fillet, remove the head, the skin and the backbone of the fish and extract as much meat as possible. Proceed to put your boiled potatoes, Surströmming, onions, chives and dill in that order on top of each other on the flatbread. Spread some sour cream near the neatly placed ingredients and roll the flatbread. Pour in the drink of your choice and voilà – you are ready to taste!
5. Have fun!
There is no doubt that eating Surströmming will be an experience. The smell, the look on everybody’s face once they catch the scent, the taste and the concluding discussion about what just happened will be memorable. The most important thing is to have fun while doing so, as the first time you feel the presence of Surströmming near you, will be unforgettable. Bon appetite!