Apart from special traditions across the world in the weeks leading up to Christmas, there are also countless traditions regarding must-have delicacies at the Christmas dinner table! It is always a joy to discover different countries’ culinary delights, so in this post I will give you an insight into typical Christmas food served in the Nordic countries on the 24th of December.
Some things are simply a must in all the Nordic countries, like gravlax – raw salmon that has been cured with salt and sugar and fresh dill – and glögg (in Swedish and Icelandic), gløgg (in Danish and Norwegian) or glögi (in Finnish). This is the Nordic variant of mulled wine and is found both with and without alcohol, and often enjoyed with almond flakes and raisins for some extra flavour. Another Nordic Christmas classic is rice pudding served with many different possible toppings, for example cinnamon, sugar, or berry sauce which is usually made out of cranberry, raspberry, red currant or cherry. It can be eaten as a starter at the Christmas dinner, as a main (lunch) course, or cold as a dessert. Often an almond is hidden in the pudding, and the lucky eater who finds it on their plate gets a small prize or gets to make a wish!
Why not spice up your Christmas by also trying out some of these selected Nordic treats:
- Denmark – For the Danes feasting on good food is of vital importance, and juleaften (“Yule evening”) is no different! The Danish like to treat themselves with roast pork, flæskesteg, or roast duck, andesteg, small caramelised potatoes, hot pickled red cabbage and the unbeatable dark brown gravy sauce.
- Finland – The most important dish at the Finnish joulupöytä (“Christmas table”) must be the Christmas ham, often prepared with a crust of mustard and bread crumbs. The ham goes very well with rosolli, a salad made out of boiled beetroots, potatoes, carrots, onions, pickled cucumber and possibly pickled herring, and different casseroles made out of carrot and rice, turnip or pork liver and raisins.
- Iceland – Cooking plays a very big part in an Icelandic Christmas celebration, and the dinner on aðfangadagskvöld (Christmas Eve) is seen by many as the most important dinner of the year. Traditional Christmas delicacies in Iceland include rjúpa, rock ptarmigan (a gamebird) cooked in a pot, hangikjöt (hung meat), usually made of smoked mutton or lamb meat and laufabrauð (leaf bread), a round-shaped thin and crispy bread with beautiful patterns cut into it.
- Norway – In Norway, typical julemat (Christmas food) includes pinnekjøtt (“meat on a stick”) referring to salted, dried and sometimes smoked lamb ribs, and julepølse (“Christmas sausage”) made from pork and seasoned with ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Lutefisk, dried white fish which has been soaked in lye and acquired a jelly-like consistency (not everyone’s favourite!) is also widespread, and is not only eaten in Norway but also in the other Nordic countries.
- Sweden – Last but not least, at a traditional Swedish julbord (“Christmas table”) you will most likely start your meal with pickled herring and baked herring, followed by smoked salmon and gravlax, and then a plate of cold meats such as sliced Christmas ham and different patés. Concerning warm dishes, of course, Swedish people have to have meatballs (not IKEA´s) on their Christmas dinner table, but you will also find the famous and totally delicious Janssons frestelse, literally “Jansson’s temptation”, an oven-dish made out of potatoes, anchovies, onion and lots of cream.
For a great overview of all possible Swedish Christmas delicacies check out this blog!
Also, don’t miss out on the 24 tasty recipes in bab.la’s 2013 International Recipe Advent Calendar!