Sunday, August 17, 2014

Time-Life: Scandinavia

I've gotten somewhat behind with the the Time-Life books cooking schedule. Part of it was the interruption caused by my holiday. The good part of that was that I was able to pick up the rest of the Time Life set that I purchased last year. It had been languishing at my sister's since then.

Another part of the interruption is perhaps how uninspiring I found the Scandinavian book. Traditional Scandinavian cooking seems to be just as plain as Dutch cooking. The baked goods looked the most interesting of all, but I really don't feel like making Danish pastries (which are of course, Viennese pastries.)

Nevertheless, I found one recipe that sounded interesting and that was the Norwegian fish pudding, which can also be formed into balls and added to a soup. So I decided to try my hand at Bergen fish soup with fish balls, but with a twist from Louisiana (hello Creole and Acadian Cooking!).

I made the fish stock following the recipe but found it very bland. Since I was also making jambalaya, I had some shrimp shells, so I added them to the fish bouillon, which ended up being more flavourful, a bit more colourful, and perhaps a less delicate match for the fish balls. Ah well, the resulting soup was good.

The fish balls were an interesting addition. They added a soft and fluffy texture that complimented the delicate flavour and texture of the soup. I can imagine children enjoying this soup.

Norwegian Fish Soup

My adaptations to these recipes were to and shrimp shells to the stock for the fish soup. I used the last of my parsnips for the fish stock so didn't have any for the vegetables in the soup, so substituted celery. Given how sweet parsnips can be, I suspect that this was a good idea anyway. And I used fresh dill to garnish.

Fish Pudding /Fish Balls
The following ingredients make a small fish pudding and about 25 fish balls.  Or you could just make one or the other.
MetricAmericanIngredient
600 grams1 1/2 poundscod filet
30 ml2 tablespoonsmilk
60 ml1/4 cupcream
10 ml2 teaspoonssalt
20 ml1 1/2 tablespoonscorn starch
freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. For the fish pudding, butter a small loaf tin and dust with bread crumbs. (A mini tin is good if you are making a half recipe fish pudding.) Preheat the oven to 175 C/325 F
  2. Mix the milk and cream. Cut the fish into chunks, making sure to remove any bones that may still be in the fish fillets.
  3. In a food processor gradually add the fish pieces with some of the cream mixture, pulsing them to form a smooth puree, and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the salt, corn starch, and any cream mixture that hasn't been used yet.
  4. For the fish pudding: Press and smooth the mixture into the prepared loaf tin so that no air pocket remain, then cover with some buttered aluminum foil. Place the tin a roasting pan and add boiling water until it reaches three-quarters up the side of the tin. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes. The pudding is done when the top feels firm and a cake tester comes out clean. Turn the pudding out onto a serving plate.
  5. For the fish balls: Place the fish puree in the fridge for a half hour or so to stiffen up. Scoop out using a tablespoon and roll into balls using your hands. You can put the balls back into the fridge until ready to cook in the fish bouillon or water for 2-3 minutes. After cooking, drain them and add to the fish soup just before serving.
Fish Stock

2 medium carrot, chopped
1 medium parsnip, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 large potato, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 parsley stalk
6 peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
4 liters water
900 grams / 2 pounds white fish remnants, such as white fish bones and heads (I can get this free from my fishmonger)
Optional: shells from about 20 large shrimp

Put all the ingredients except the shrimp shells into a soup pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
Drain the broth through a fine sieve into a large bowl or another large pot. Press the solids with a spoon to get as much of the moisture into the broth as possible. Discard the solids.
Rinse or wipe the soup pot and return the broth to the pot. Boil the broth until it has reduced to half the volume (about 2 liters).
Now add the shrimp shells, if using, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Drain the stock  into a large saucepan through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth.

Fish Soup

25-30 fish balls, or 1 pound of fish filet such as cod or halibut
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
2 egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill

  1. Bring the fish stock to a gentle simmer and add the fish balls. Cook them for 2 to 3 minutes, then scoop them out with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. If you are using a fish filet, simmer it whole until the fish flakes. Then remove to drain.
  2. Add the carrots and celery to the fish broth and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped leek and simmer for another 3 minutes.
  4. Beat the egg yolks and gradually beat in about 1/2 cup of the hot broth, a few tablespoons at a time.
  5. Gradually add the egg yolk mixture to the soup, stirring all the while.
  6. Return the fish balls to the soup and heat through, but do not bring the soup to the boil. If you are using fish fillet, cut it into pieces and return to the soup.
  7. Garnish the soup with dill and serve.