Written by a gal from NYC living in Sweden, this blog dabbles in Swedish food and culture!
Easter is here and that means: 10% Easter eggs, 30% Easter cooking, 25% candy, 30%, the start of many days off in the next few months, and 5% Jesus. Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian church, but it has also lost a lot of its religious meaning; it’s not very surprising that chocolate bunnies, påskris, or “Easter rice”, and painted eggs come to mind rather than the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs are fairly common in the US, but “Easter rice”? Come again? “Easter rice” is something special to Sweden and has nothing to do with rice whatsoever. They’re basically twigs pulled from birch trees with colorful feathers atop- Easter’s idea of a Christmas tree. According to Wikipedia, “Easter rice is linked to Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem and the palm leaves that were strewn on the ground for him”. The first time I saw the twigs at the market, I thought they were so insanely strange. I just couldn’t understand why people were paying money for sticks. But two years later, here I am, buying my own bunch of twigs and making “Easter rice” by slapping some colorful feathers on them. Woo!
This is the first year that we cooked an Easter meal. We’ve always had Easter dinner with Aron’s family, but this year they’re celebrating with a friend from out of town, so we were on our own and ended up inviting a friend and her kids over for an impromptu Easter lunch. The Easter spread is pretty much like the Christmas spread. However, it’s lighter and often contains eggs, lamb, and salmon. So….Aron made a lamb tjälknöl (which is a frozen hunk of meat slow-cooked in an oven for 12 hours and then drowned in a salt bath for 5), and I tried out a recipe for Gubbröra, literally “Old Man Mix”. I’m not sure why it’s called what it is called, but perhaps it comes from a time when old men got together to make this simple salad ?!?! After reading a few recipes for this classic Swedish dish, I’ve decided that it’s basically an egg salad mixed with some kind of packaged fish. Some recipes call for anchovies, others use caviar from a tube, or fish roe spread. Classy! I chose one with anchovies and liked it very much. It was surprisingly creamy and fresh!
Feeling a bit motivated, I even made a Janssons Frestelse. And that had anchovies in it too. I have never cooked so much with anchovies in my life. But as they say- When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?
recipe adapted from http://www.recept.nu/recept_nu/forratter/fisk_och_skaldjur/gubbrora/
1 (125 g) pickled sprats (or matjes herring, if sprats are hard to find)
½ yellow onion
1 dl (ca ½ cup) dill, finely chopped
½ dl (ca ¼ cup) chives, finely chopped
4 potatoes, boiled and cooled
4 hardboiled eggs
a pinch of black pepper
1 teaspoon anchovy liquid
1. Drain the anchovies, saving about 1 teaspoon of the liquid. Chop them finely. Peel and chop the onion. Finely chop the dill and the chives. Throw them all into a bowl.
2. Dice the potatoes and eggs. Add them to the bowl and gently toss. Add pepper and anchovy juice. Here, the dish is ready. Cool in the refrigerator before serving.
Serve with crisp bread or rye bread.