Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sillisalaatti - Herring Salad: Part I

Now if you live in Finland, or in Gloucester for that matter, it's almost expected that you will eat a lot of fish and like it. I think I missed out on that gene. There is something about the taste of most fish that I find very unappealing. I do like smoked salmon, however. So, when I read the Sillisalaatti (or Herring Salad) recipe and saw that smoked salmon could be substituted for the herring, I was thrilled!

My mother mentioned that when she was growing up, it was pretty common to eat dried, salt herring and cod. I think that these types of fish must be similar to the Italian baccalà. The salted herring is what the original Sillisalaati recipe calls for. "Silli" means "herring" and "salaatti" means "salad". I suppose, I should rename my recipe Lohisalaatti, since I am using salmon.

My intention with the Sillisalaatti remake is to create a layered, "verrine" type appetizer. I need to refine the recipe and I need to find a better verrine glass to use for my photo. However, some key revisions to the recipe (aside from using salmon) include:

(1) Roasted fresh beets -- I like the flavor and texture of roasted beets much better than flabby canned beets. And they are easy to make.

(2) Use sour cream, instead of mayonnaise

(3) Use a minced shallot, instead of the chopped onion, for a more delicate flavor

(4) Layer the different ingredients to show distinct, different colors -- such as the deep red/pink of the beets, the bright orange of the carrots, the pale pink of the salmon, and the green pickles.

I must say that my husband G. is quite a pickled herring aficionado (I think he must have some Scandinavian blood in him somewhere!). He tried Lohisalaatti Part I last night and thinks that it would work well with pickled herring too.

Here is the original recipe -- I will post my refined, revised recipe shortly.

The Original Recipe: Sillisalaatti (Finnish Salad)

source: Recipes and Finnish Specialties - St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Gloucester, MA. July 1955.

1 1/2 salted herring
2 cups diced cooked meat (optional)
2 cupst boiled diced potatoes
2 cups boiled diced carrots
2 1/2 cups diced beets
2 pickled cucumbers (optional)
White pepper
1/2 chipped onion.

Soak fish in water a few hours. Bone, skin and chop. Mix with diced vegetables and add French dressing or mayonnaise. Place in bowl, garnish the surface with hard boiled eggs. As a variation, smoked salmon may be used instead of the herring.


Anonymous said...

What a good idea to substitute salmon. My mother-in-law (in Finland) made this salad, and I love it. It is typical to chop things in much smaller pieces than you have here. Also, I think sour cream is a great idea. My mother-in-law used a type of sour cream that is very close to smetana (Russian style), and not mayonnaise. She also served the salad in layers in a glass bowl. Looked great, tasted great.

Anonymous said...

One more point: I have only had the salad with pickled herring. It's interesting that your old Gloucester recipe used salted herring. I guess that was easier to transport and store. (Unless the salting refers to traditional pickling methods....?)