Fish Cookery the Finnish Way

June 15, 2015 Updated: June 16, 2015

The Finnish smorgasbord or “voileipapoyta” is considered the best by Finns, although Swedes might not agree as they also do a fine presentation. Each version starts with a cold table with numerous fish, meat, and salad dishes. Hot dishes are usually presented on a smaller table, and might include meatballs and various casseroles.

A mini version is presented in private homes, often eaten on the same plate as the main dish, both usually served with plain boiled potatoes. The grand version is to be found in manor houses, inns, city restaurants, and on the luxurious ships that sail between Finland and Sweden.

Here are some simple yet very tasty Finnish fish recipes for the cold table.

Salmon Steak Tartare

Makes 4 servings

400 g (14 oz) lightly salted salmon
15 ml (1 tbsp) finely chopped dill
15 ml (1 tbsp) mayonnaise
15 ml (1 tbsp) sour cream
15 ml (1 tbsp) cream
Few drops of lemon juice
Salt, if necessary
Freshly ground black pepper
Fish roe to decorate, optional

Dice salmon into very small cubes and mix it with the dill and other ingredients in a glass bowl. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Form this mixture into serving portions, decorate with fish roe and sprigs of dill, and serve with toast.

Dilled Shrimp

Makes 2 to 3 servings

1 litre (1 qt) water
15 ml (1 tbsp) coarse sea salt
5 ml (1 tsp) sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) dill stalks and seeds
500 g (1 lb) medium shrimp
1 large bunch fresh dill with leaves removed

Start in the morning. Combine water, salt, sugar, and dill stalks and seed in a deep pot and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Put the shrimp in, cover again, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are done. Remove the shrimp from the liquid, strain off the dill, and put the shrimp back in the liquid. Chill until evening. Remove from the marinade and arrange on a platter. Decorate with dill leaves. Serve with crisp warm toast and butter.

Fish Salad

Makes 4 to 6 servings

500 g (1 lb) leftover boiled or smoked fish
50 ml (1/4 cup) chopped fresh dill leaves
Bibb lettuce leaves

40 ml (3 tbsp) sour cream
5 ml (1 tsp) prepared mustard
250 ml (1 cup) yogurt
Salt to taste
50 ml (1/4 cup) finely chopped chives

Debone fish and remove all skin. Break into bite-sized pieces. Mix with dill. Put lettuce leaves into cocktail glasses and place the fish on the lettuce. Chill.

For the dressing, mix sour cream and mustard. Fold in yogurt and season with salt and chives. Pour dressing over salad. Serve chilled as an appetizer or make one large salad by putting the lettuce and fish on a platter and pouring the dressing over it. Serve as part of a smorgasbord table.

Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings, and Doctor’s Review, among others. She is currently the European editor of Taste & Travel International. Email: