From Academic Kids

Surströmming is a Swedish delicacy consisting of fermented Baltic herring. People who try it can be confident that they will never forget it.

It is sold in cans, and when you open them a strong, foul smell is released. The smell is similar to fish gone bad or garbage left out in the sun for a couple of days. Actually, this dish is often eaten outdoors because of the smell. However, a trick to avoid the smell is to open the can under water.

This method of preservation was invented long ago, when brining food was quite expensive due to the costs of salt. When fermentation was used, on the other hand, just enough salt was required to keep the fish from rotting.

The herring is caught in spring, when it is in prime condition and just about to spawn. Once tinned, the fermentation can begin.

Half a year later, gases have built up sufficiently to cause the pressure inside the once cylindrical tins to bulge into a ball. These unusual containers of Surströmming can now be found in supermarkets all over Sweden.

When you eat surströmming you need a bread known quite aptly as "tunnbröd". This thin, soft bread (not to be confused with Knäckebröd) comes in big square sheets, which are plastered with butter. Boiled potatoes are then peeled and sliced, and together with some chopped onion, they are sprinkled on the bread. The potatoes are of a special kind, called "mandelpotatis" or almond potatoes.

Then, fork a whole fish from the tin and slice it down the middle. Remove its soft insides, including the dark gray roe, and open the fish up like a book. Stamping the red flesh with a fork the bone loosens and it can be filleted. Cut small pieces ready for the sandwich. The final touch is a big dollop of crème fraîche. The "tunnbröd" can then be folded or rolled up.

The surströmming sandwich is traditionally served with a glass of cold milk and a schnaps. Beer has also become popular, although the combined effects of the surströmming and the release of carbon dioxide from the beer can be quite unpleasant for some time after the meal. Although lots of people do not like it, you have to eat it several times before you really appreciate the taste. There is a hard core of surströmming devotees located in northern Sweden, where, not surprisingly, they live virtually undisturbed by the rest of the world.

See also: Swedish cuisine

External links

ja:シュールストレミング sv:Surströmming

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