Posted on 29/10/2020

#Culture #Sweden

Surprising things you might not know about Swedish food

Even heard of reindeer pizza or pickled herrings? Yes, we know, Swedish food might seem pretty weird to you, but they can combine some exciting, and sometimes very unusual flavours. As other Scandinavian countries, they are pretty famous for the fish dishes (and for the Ikea meatballs), but there is a whole lot more to it - their gastronomy is actually full of flavours and originality!

Kroppkakor (potato dumplings)

Kroppkakor (potato dumplings) © Sergii Koval / 123RF

Kroppkakor come in many different shapes and versions all over Sweden, but they are dumplings made with potatoes and flour, which are then wrapped around fried pork. Very comforting and hearty, they are usually served with butter, cream, lingonberry and béchamel sauce.


Crayfish © Subbotina / 123RF

Every summer in early August, there is a kräftskiva in Sweden - a crayfish party which is washed with lots of beer and liquor, and involves somes rowdy singing. A real seafood celebration, crayfish is usually served as a main course, and can come with some lobster if you really feel like indulging in the meal. Preparations for crayfishes usually involve boiling them in brine, sometimes with beer, and lots of dill and spices. Traditionally, the best crayfish comes from Småland in southern Sweden, but on the West Coast they usually prefer langoustines.


Herrings © gkrphoto / 123RF

Pickled, fried, or even cured, there are many different ways to eat herrings in Sweden, and it is a really important part of their culinary traditions. Pickled herrings are also a centerpiece in Smörgåsbord - a Swedish buffet that also includes meatballs, mini sausages and cured salmon. They can come with different flavours, such as onion, garlic, dill and mustard, and very often come with potatoes, sour cream and eggs. The preservation process of pickling usually consists of vinegar, water, salt and spices, and when you eat it, it comes with boiled potatoes and chives. But if you feel like herring in a lighter and sweeter option, go ahead and try fried herring - cooked in melted butter and served with mashed potatoes, green peas and lingonberry sauce, it is both a very healthy and tasty dish!

Knäckebröd (crisp bread)

Knäckebröd (crisp bread) © elvinphoto / 123RF

The most common side dish in Sweden, knäckebröds are rye crispbreads that can have various toppings such as cheese and ham, smoked salmon, or even caviar if you have luxurious tastes. A common staple food in everyone's cupboard because it keeps for so long, crispbread is a convenient and easy option for a snack... But make sure you get some tasty toppings in order to make the most of it!

Gubbröra (egg and anchovy salad)

Gubbröra (egg and anchovy salad) © garciafotografia / 123RF

Very popular in Swedish cuisine, Gubbröra is an egg and anchovy salad that can be eaten as a starter or as a snack, and usually comes with some dark bread. Funnily enough, the Swedish name actually translates into "old man's mix."

Ärtsoppa (yellow pea soup)

Ärtsoppa (yellow pea soup) © Mychko Alexander / 123RF

Made with yellow peas and topped with bacon and thyme, Ärtsoppa is a comforting and warm soup that could be a great option for the cold days coming up. It is traditional amongst students and in the Armed Forces since it is a pretty quick and filling preparation. You can add some mustard to spice it up, and it also often comes with pancakes and jam... So what is obvious is that even if it might not be the most elaborate of Swedish dishes, it definitely won't leave you hungry!

Kalops (meat stew)

Kalops (meat stew) © Mychko Alexander / 123RF

Originally from Skåne in the very south of the country, Kalops is a delicious meat stew that is slowly cooked for a long time with Swedish spices, pimento and bay leaves, which gives it plenty of flavours. Hearty and warm, it is perfect for the winter months, and is usually served with boiled potatoes and pickled beetroot.

Köttbullar (meatballs)

Köttbullar (meatballs) © Elena Veselova / 123RF

A pretty iconic dish because of IKEA's meatballs, Köttbullar usually come with mashed potatoes, cream sauce, and lingonberries, but you can also find them with macaroni. It is a very traditional dish and an important one for every Swede out there - it is usually homemade since every Swedish mother tends to have her own recipe for it, which is why it is sometimes called "Mom's meatballs". There are some variations depending on the regions though, and the more north you go the less fat there is in the meatballs, whereas further south, there tends to be much more fat than pork in the meatballs.

Västerbottensost (Västerbotten cheese)

Västerbottensost (Västerbotten cheese) © funandrejss / 123rf

From northeastern Sweden, Västerbottensost is a strong and tangy cheese, and the most famous all over Sweden. It is a definite must-try when sampling Swedish cheeses, and can be associated with other local produce such as crayfish - in a flan.

Jansson's temptation (potato and anchovy casserole)

Jansson's temptation (potato and anchovy casserole) © Yusuke Madokoro / 123RF

Jansson's temptation is a creamy potato and anchovy casserole that is particularly popular at Christmas, but can also be found in Sweden any other time of the year.