When you think of Finnish food, what comes to mind? Actually, I never saw a Finnish restaurant outside Finland, or came up close with a Finnish chef or famous Finnish recipe. I did know they had reindeer and fish, so perhaps I would find something reasonable to eat in Finland?
Well, there are actually quite some delicious dishes in Finnish cuisine. Having an abundance of lakes and forests, the country has access to fresh seafood, game, berries and root vegetable. The Fins like to eat simply prepared, healthy and wholesome foods. Here are the top 10 dishes you must try when you visit Finland…
- Karelian pasty – Karjalanpiirakka is a traditional Finnish dish made from a thin rye crust with a filling of rice. Butter, often mixed with boiled egg (egg butter or munavoi), is spread over the hot pastries before eating.
- Rye bread – Sounds simple, but this may be the best bread you would have tasted! They also add flax seeds and spelt so the bread is hearty and healthy. Spread with homemade jams, butter, and cheese. I looked forward to breakfast each day.
- Hernekeitto – Fins love to eat soups and stews for lunch. This one is a split pea soup, which is traditionally eaten on Thursdays with pork or pancakes.
- Salmon – Fresh and smoked salmon (gravlax) is probably one of the best in Scandinavia. The fresh cold waters of the fjords allow for the salmon to stay pink in color (vs the Alaskan red) and is fattier. There’s hardly a meal in Finland where you can escape salmon.
- Herring – Baltic herring is another popular ingredient found in Finning cuisine. Smoked herring and pickled herring are commonly served as appetizers, sometimes accompanied by small potatoes called uusiperuna which literally means new potato. I also tried fried herring at the historic Sea Horse restaurant in Helsinki.
- Crayfish – I am a big fan of shellfish and some of the best crayfish I have ever eaten has been in Helsinki. Tender and juicy chunks are tossed with mayo and spread on toast, with a sprinkle of fresh dill and lemon juice. Best place to eat it is at the Old Market Hall near the Helsinki harbor.
- Reindeer – In a country where reindeers are allowed to roam free and not raised for meat, this is the most sustainable protein. You can find reindeer sausages, kebabs, hamburgers, stews, jerky, steaks and every imaginable meat dish. No matter which form you eat your reindeer in, it is good to know that the meat contains only 4% fat and is rich in omega-3, omega-6, B-12, zinc and iron.
- Cloudberries – Found in the northern forests of Finland, cloudberries are little orange tart berries packed with vitamin. At the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Lapland, I had all kinds of cocktails, jams and desserts with cloudberries. The Lappish squeaky cheese baked with cloudberries is the most popular dessert. Cloudberries are a source of youth, as they contain a lot of anti-oxidants that protect against cancer and heart disease, and reduce the process of aging.
- Salty licorice – Salmiakki is made with ammonium chloride, making the candy very salty. It comes in different flavors and textures, from soft and chewy, to hard and brittle. It is an acquired taste but the Finns love it.
- Salmiakki kossu – Is a premixed alcoholic drink with vodka, and peppery licorice. It is dark charcoal color and has a strong flavor. Finlandia is another popular brand of Finish distilled vodka made of barley.
Do you have a favorite Finish dish? Share it below…