Recipe: boiling crayfish

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The last few years I have made sure to invite my London friends to a proper Swedish crayfish party, as it’s my favourite non-holiday holiday in my native country. I usually buy the pre-cooked frozen crayfish from the Swedish shop but last year I actually found a crayfish seller who sold fresh crayfish caught in local lakes or ponds. The price was almost the same, and the quality so much better, but I also really wanted to cook my own crayfish!

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Compared to lobsters who you usually cook in boiling water, we cook crayfish in a sort of brine that we then leave the crayfish in until we eat them, adding a salty dilly taste to the crustaceans.

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My London friends love crayfish as much as I do, so I ordered 7 kg for 12 of us, which may sound like a lot, but we ate every single one. It was a little tricky cooking that many with not that many large pans to hand but I managed*, and had a good time in the process experimenting with two types of brine; one with just salt, sugar and dill and one with beer in (a common practice for cooking crayfish) that add more depth to the flavour.

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Boiling crayfish, basic recipe

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

Boiling crayfish, with beer

20 crayfish

2 1/2 litre water

1 litre beer

75-100 ml salt

1 tsp sugar

plenty of dill flowers (dill seeds can be used instead)

Make sure all the crayfish are alive, discard any dead ones. Rinse in cold water. Bring water, beer, salt, sugar and dill flowers to the boil. Put the crayfish in a colander and lower it into the boiling brine to cook the crayfish. Cook for 10 minutes, from the brine starts boiling again. Leave to cool in the brine, keep cold and eat within 24 hours. 

*The trickiest part was actually storing 7 kgs of crayfish in its brine in a cold place. The fridge surely wasn’t large enough and it was full of all the other food we were having with the crayfish, so I put them in bowls and pans in the bath and filled it with ice. Bonus pic:

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Recipe: lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo

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These little wraps are seriously delicious in an effortless sort of way. Perfect for a post-beach supper with a cold beer or a glass of rosé, or as a light lunch on the terrace. The point is that’s it’s low effort to make but full enjoyment to eat. And almost healthy.

If you want to make them actually healthy I’m sure brown rice or wild rice would work too, but lets be honest; it won’t taste as nice.

But they could easily be converted into a lovely starter by just omitting the rice. You see, the possibilities are endless.

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Lettuce wraps with prawns and spicy mayo, serves 2

2 portions long-grain rice

300 g raw large prawns

1 tsp Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes

1 lime wedge, the juice only

salt, white pepper

1 -2 little gem lettuce

10 cm cucumber, peel off most of the green peel and cut into small cubes

6 cherry tomatoes, cut into small wedges

2 spring onion, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado, cut into small cubes

Spicy mayonnaise:

100 ml Hellmann’s mayonnaise (or homemade) 

2-3 tsp gochujang (Korean chilli sauce)

a few splashes red Tabasco for added heat

a small pinch of salt

To serve:

chopped coriander

1/2 lime, cut into wedges

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet. Leave to cool a little. Mix the mayo. Wash and dry the lettuce leaves. Wash and cut the remaining vegetables. 

Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the prawns and fry until pink. Add Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime. Cut the prawns into smaller pieces. 

Fill the lettuce leaves with rice, mayo, prawn pieces and vegetables (in that order, the mayo works as a glue to hold the toppings in place), add some chopped coriander and finish with a squeeze of lime. Serve with plenty of napkins as they’re best eaten using your hands! 

 

Recipe: Lobster soup with toast

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For New Year’s Eve my assignment was to make a lobster soup with sherry, so that’s what I set out to do. But as I needed lobster shell for the stock I thought it best to incorporate the lobster meat as well and did so by serving a delicious lobster toast (on butter-fried bread!) along side it. So yummy!

Obviously one can make the soup sans toast the day after a lobster feast or freeze the shells and use them another day. Same goes for prawn shells; you find a great recipe for prawn soup here.

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Lobster soup, serves 8

4 cooked lobsters

2 carrots

1 onion with skin on 

1 fennel or celery 

a bunch dill stalks

1 tsp fennel seeds

300 ml double cream 

50 ml dry sherry

approx 2 tbsp maizena or corn starch to thicken the soup

concentrated lobster stock (to taste)

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1 tbsp butter

a splash of sherry

2 shallots, finely chopped 

1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped 

Remove the lobster meat from the shells and set aside. Chop the shells very coarsley (it’s only so they fit better in the pan later). Place the shell in a large cooking tray with a little oil. Also add large pieces of carrot, onion and celery/fennel. Roast for approx 20 minutes on 180/200C. Transfer the shells and vegetables to a large saucepan with a lid. Add plenty of water (3 litres) and bring to the boil. Add dill stalks and fennel seeds. Place the lid askew and cook for 30-45 minutes.

Sieve the stock and reduce (high heat, no lid) until approx 1 litre remains. Add salt and pepper and taste. Add some concentrated lobster stock if needed. Add the sherry to a clean non-stick pan and let it bubble for a minute. Add the stock and cream and let it thicken. Add the maizena/corn starch to thicken the soup further. Sieve if you see any lumps. Season to taste with concentrate, salt, pepper and sherry. 

From the lobster meat I used approx 1/4 of the meat, the smallest pieces, to place in the soup bowls. Melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped shallots. After a minute add the lobster meat and add the sherry. Add salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dill. Divide between the bowls and pour in the soup. 

Lobster toast, serves 8

6 slices white bread

2 tbsp butter

remaining lobster meat from the 4 lobsters

1 batch homemade mayonnaise

1 tsp dijon

1 bunch, finely chopped

1 pinch cayenne pepper

salt, pepper

Chop the lobster meat (not too finely). Add 4 tbsp mayonnaise to a bowl and mix in the meat. Add more mayo if needed. Add mustard, dill and cayenne after taste. Season. Place cold until serving. 

Remove the crusts on the bread and cut into two diagonally. Fry the slices golden brown on both sides in butter on medium-low heat. Divide the lobster mayonnaise between the toasts and serve with the soup. 

Recipe: slow-cooked salmon with fennel, lemon and chilli

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Salmon. Probably the most popular fish in Sweden, but not my first choice to be honest. I blame all the baked (over-cooked) salmon fillets when I was at Uni for that. Although I love the oily fish raw, cured and cold-smoked. And, after trying this recipe, like this; baked in a very low oven and still raw in the middle.

Slow-roasted salmon with fennel, lemon and chilli, serves 6

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

1/2 fennel, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 red or green chili, sliced

4 sprigs dill + more for serving

salt and black pepper

900 g salmon fillet without skin

olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 135C. Pour a little oil into a baking dish. Place fennel, lemon, chilli and till in the dish and place the salmon on top. Add plenty of salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or longer if you want it cooked through. 

Shred the fish into smaller pieces. Remove the dill (and substitute with fresh dill) and serve with the baked vegetables. I also had new potatoes and a cold sauce with lumpfish roe with mine.

Recipe: cod loin with lemon, capers, red onions and browned butter

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Maybe it’s because of my Scandinavian heritage but I really do like cod. I didn’t use to as a child, but back then my mother used to serve the cod poached *shudders* whereas I like to cook mine in the oven which keeps it firmer. My only “problem” with cod is that it looks so beige on the (white) plate, but adorning the cooked fish with pink, yellow and green accessories like in this recipe effectively solves that problem. Luckily the lemon segments, red onions and capers also elevates the cod to a rather sophisticated dinner party dish, which the addition of that amazing browned butter cements even further.

Thank you Bon Appetit for the inspiration and sorry for butchering your recipe, but this version is more Scandi.

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Cod loin with lemon, red onions, capers and browned butter, serves 6

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s recipe.

1 kg cod loin

2 lemons

1/2 red onion

1 tbsp small capers

salt & pepper

500 g salted butter

Cut the cod loin into smaller pieces. Peel the lemon and cut into segments in between the membranes and place in a bowl. Slice the onion thinly and place in a bowl and cover with lemon juice. Place the cod in a buttered or oiled ovenproof dish and season well. Cook in 150C oven for 20-25 minutes or until just cooked through. Leave to rest for a few minutes.   

While the fish is cooking, place the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat until nice and browned. Keep warm. 

Mix the lemon segments with the red onions (but not the juice) and capers on a bowl. Put the fish onto a clean serving plate and top with cod pieces with the lemon and onion mixture. Spoon over some browned butter. Serve with potato purée, peas and carrots and serve the rest of the browned butter on the side, it’s the only sauce you need. 

Recipe: Langos (Hungarian fried bread)

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This Hungarian speciality of yummy deep-fried bread is interestingly quite popular in Sweden. As a child I came across langos stalls at Festivals and markets and when I was in my early twenties and sailed in the archipelago on the West Coast of Sweden I discovered langos stalls everywhere, so you could grab one on your way home from the nightclub. (A brilliant idea by the way!)

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In Hungary langos are usually topped with garlic butter, smetana and cheese, among other toppings, but in Sweden we tend to use prawns, fish roe and creme fraiche. Both are delicious and you can use anything you want really. Thankfully, crispy deep-fried bread goes with most things.

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Langos, maked 8 (which easily serves 4, maybe more)

Translated from and adapted after Jennys Matblogg’s recipe.

25 g fresh yeast (or 2 tsp dry yeast)

300 ml finger warm water

1 tsp salt

1 medium cold boiled potato, pressed

approx 420 g plain flour

1 litre neutral oil for deep-frying 

Toppings:

50 g melted salted butter + 1 small garlic clove, pressed

300 ml smetana, sour cream or creme fraiche 

1 large red onion, finely chopped

500-600 g Atlantic prawns, peeled

1 jar red or black (lump)fish roe

Add the flour to a bowl. Add the pressed potato. Pour in yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other. Mix in the finger warm water and work into a loose dough. Cover and leave to rise for approx 40 minutes. 

Pour out the dough on a floured work surface. Cut into eight even pieces and roll them out thinly, using more flour if the dough is sticky. Leave to rise again, on a floured parchment paper, for approx 10-15 minutes. (This last step can be omitted). 

Pour the oil into a large saucepan and heat it up until 180C (try by putting in a small piece of bread – when it turns golden brown the oil has the right temperature). Deep-fry the breads a few at the time (depending on the size of the saucepan) until golden on both sides and crispy. Drain on kitchen towel, then brush on some of the garlic butter and add the toppings. Eat while hot. 

Recipe: Classic prawn cocktail

 

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One evening at home in Sweden I decided to make langos, something I’ve only made once before a long long time ago, but as these deep-fried flatbreads with yummy toppings are heavy to say the least, I thought we’d start with a salad. And since we already had peeled a mountain of prawns for the langos, why not throw in some prawns and make a classic prawn cocktail?!

I’d almost forgotten this little treasure (although I sometimes make this version) and really enjoyed its revival! Will share the langos recipe shortly.

 

Classic prawn cocktail, serves 4

3/4 large head of lettuce (I prefer a soft lettuce that’s not bitter for this, so no iceberg please) 

1 large avocado

12 cherry tomatoes

28 peeled Atlantic prawns

Marie Rose sauce:

100 ml Hellman’s mayonnaise

2 tbsp ketchup

a few splashes Tabasco

lemon juice

salt and pepper

rosé pepper to decorate

Rinse the lettuce and cut into pieces. Rinse the tomatoes and cut into quarters. Slice the avocado. 

For the sauce, mix mayonnaise and ketchup in a bowl. Season to taste with lemon juice, tabasco, salt and pepper. 

Layer lettuce, tomatoes and avocado, sauce and prawns in a dessert glass on a stem. Sprinkle some rosé pepper on top.