,,One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating.
And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends. ,,
-Laurie Colwin

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Genuine Estonian Food- Is there such a thing?

Traditional Estonian cooking is simple in comparison with other European cuisines, but it is anything but ordinary (normaalne) and cannot be compared with the sophisticated French or Italian cuisine. Estonian food is usually simple and satisfying. In the last few years foreign food from all over the world have enriched Estonian food culture with new exciting dishes. Foreign junk fast food has become as well an inseparable part of Estonian food culture, at every corner in all the cities. All the countries in the world are trying to get rid of junk fast food and Estonia is developing this business.
The definition for main courses is meat or fish served with vegetables, potatoes and sauce. Boiled potatoes with dill and butter are the side dish with almost every meal. Salads are only plentiful in summer, and feature plenty of chopped, fresh vegetables in a sour cream dressing. Soups and stews are popular in winter, made from a selection of meats and vegetables.
A variety of fresh Estonian ingredients are available — including fish, poultry, lamb, beef, and wild game. Traditional methods of smoking, salting, drying, marinating and poaching continue to create their own taste ’’sensations’’. Forests not only provide wild game but also mushrooms, cowberries, blueberries and cloudberries. People who spend their summers picking and drying juniper berries and various home-grown herbs have no problem at all in seasoning winter stews.
For many years the Estonians had a habit of borrowing methods and techniques from other culinary cultures, especially from Russia, Germany, Sweden and France, country where people know the art of living in order to eat. Estonian culinary tradition is based on people’s need to eat in order to survive.
Restaurants tend to serve more foreign dishes than their own traditional food. Modern Estonian cuisine is more exciting with the young generation of Estonian chefs who has scored major successes abroad with their tasty innovative creations. Modern chefs use best local ingredients, then cook them in new ways and they try to be inspired by the old Estonian culinary traditions. The best of the old recipes have been revised so they try to reduce the fat content and add more fruits and vegetables.
Apart from the meat and potatoes, there are a number of Estonian specialities that are worth trying and mention.: -Heeringas - herring ; -Angerjas - eel ; -Suitsu Forell - smoked trout; - Hapukapsas - pickled cabbage; -Leib - black bread; -Kama - roasted cereal grains; -Rossolje - creamy salad of herring and beets; -Seljanka - thick, sour, meat soup of Russian origin; - Herne supp - peas soup; - Sült - pork in aspic; Verivorst - blood sausage that is traditionally served at Christmas and also wild game. You can find some of my ideas with wild game here.
So, my opinion is that genuine Estonian food is present, but is not used and explored enough.  
Herring is a mainstay of the Estonian diet and is prepared in a variety of ways. For that I picked the Herring for a small challenge and try to put it on a better light for you, who never eat this before. This is the way I believe the chefs jobs should be based on buying the best ingredients and transform them in something great with flavors and not buying the cheapest ingredients and turn them in something edible.
I will try to present my way of changing a classic Estonian recipe with something that can be serve in a restaurant or to be made at home in a very easy way.
I will keep the traditional ingredients (Herring, boiled potatoes and dill) and add some extra flavors and cook in three different way to change this .......
                                                        into a dish with personality.
Here I rolled the Herring and I topped it with homemade tomato sauce and I baked them for 5 min. I served the baked herring rolls with new potato salad made with garlic and dill, then I topped it with salsa Verde made with green peppers, cucumber, celery, capers, dill, parsley, anchovies, olive oil and lemon juice. Garnish the dish with lucerne sprouts for a finish touch.
For a nice breakfast we grilled some baby asparagus with cold herring and served it with poached eggs and yogurt tarragon sauce.
Then for a cold winter dinner you can make a very easy, herring “au gratin’’ with cauliflower and panko. Easy step by step recipe and photos is following.
Herring gratin.
They reheat very good, or they can be par-cooked and finished as guests arrive. They can easily be made a day in advance and just baked as needed.
To simplify preparation, the leeks and onions are braised in a fry pan until tender.Arrange in layers the fried onions and herring in a fireproof dish greased with garlic butter.  Place the cauliflower on top and then spread the bechamel sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs (panko) with some herbs like dill- parsley and sprinkle on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Enjoy! Pin It Now!


  1. "All the countries in the world are trying to get rid of junk fast food and Estonia is developing this business."


    Where do you buy asparagus? Even in season, the stuff on sale is dried and yellow.

  2. I have to search hard to find some good asparagus, but nobody wants it in Tartu, because it's too expensive.


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