Every year before Christmas, many supermarkets in England have salmon on special offer. This big boy is farmed somewhere from Finland and weighs over 3kg. At £15, it was too good a deal to pass, even there's only two of us at home and I have no freezer. I ended up eating salmon for the next fours days!
I cut the whole salmon up into six pieces. Four big steaks, plus the head and tail. The head and tail was made into a tofu tomato soup with rice noodles, I took one steak over to my sister's during Christmas as she likes salmon, and I steamed another piece chinese style. The third piece I baked for my Christmas eve dinner with honey, soy sauce, ginger and dill. It was so nice and fresh.
And finally, I used the last piece to make Lohikeitto. This is a potato and salmon soup, a popular dish from the Nordic. I first had it when I went to Finland to see the northern lights. Boy, was that a good holiday! In fact one of the best three holidays I've had. I went for a week in January 2014. Scientists say the best time to see the northern lights is when the magnetic storms are the strongest. The solar system works on an eleven year cycle and the last time the solar maximum was in 2014/15. I timed my Finland trip perfectly and saw the northern lights 4 nights out of 6!!
Anyway, during my stay in Finland, we had salmon for dinner every day, cooked in different ways. I'm not normally a big fan of salmon, but I don't think I got bored of it that week. The Finns know how to make their salmon. My most memorable dish was the Lohikeitto, and I've made it many times since I've returned from my Finland trip. It always brings back nice memories. Plus it's very easy to make.
Ingredients to make Lohikeitto
The ingredients to make Lohikeitto are pretty simple. Salmon and potato of course.
Onion, a little butter, a fish stock cube for extra flavor, cream for texture and dill to garnish.
How to make Lohikeitto
The dish is very easy to make. First, peel and dice one onion and sautee in butter till it's soft.
In the meanwhile, peel, and dice two potatoes. Make sure the dices are about equal size so they cook in the same time.
When the onion is soft, add some water and the fish stock cube. I can't remember how much water I added as I always wing my recipes. I measured about 4 soup bowls for the two of us, so I'm guessing maybe one litre? You can use fish stock instead if you have that. Once the stock has come to boil, add the diced potato. Let it simmer slowly.
Now for the salmon. This is probably the trickiest part of the recipe particularly if your knife skills are a bit rusty. Mine are ok so I did everything in parallel to save time. If you're not confident in handling fish, it's better to prepare the salmon and potato first before you start cooking.
I removed the main bone first to open up the salmon steak. Then I deskinned it. This is easier than it looks, you just place the fish skin down, cut slightly into the edge of the flesh and guide your knife horizontally against the chopping board. The skin will come off easily in one piece. I saved the fish skin and baked it a few days later till it was nice and crispy, it was a perfect snack with a beer.
The most important part with the salmon is to debone it properly. Apart from the main backbone, there are some smaller bones where the belly meets the back. They have to be removed carefully. Just run you finger over the flesh and remove the bones with your fingers or tweezers. Once that's done, dice the salmon into cubes, roughly the same size as the potato.
I deboned, deskinned and diced the salmon in time for the next stage. Once the potatoes are soft, add the cream and let the soup come to boil again.
Next is the best part. Tip the diced salmon into the soup, space them out a little and make sure they're all submerged into the soup. Turn the heat down to let the residual heat from the soup cook the salmon. Salmon cooks easily and if you cook it this way the salmon will remain very tender otherwise it could go quite chalky if you overcook it. This should take only about 5 minutes.
Finally chop the dill and sprinkly to the soup. Keep a few sprigs back for garnish. Season as necessary. I didn't have to, as all the ingredients were so fresh and flavoursome.
Overall it only took me about 40 minutes to make my lohiketto. It's a quick and wonderfully tasty meal for the winter and perfect to replay the beautiful northern lights memory.
The next maximum solar cycle is expected to be in 2025, hopefully Covid will be long gone by then as I don't want to wait another 11 years for the next one before I go to see the northern lights again.
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