Fish Stew (Kalamojakka)

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I made a Finnish feast for all of us with a lot of help from my daughter and her boyfriend.   For appetizers we had homemade Finnish cheese (which took us the better part of a day to make), pickled herring, smoked lake trout from the UP of Michigan, pickled beets, Finn Crisp and an awesome smoked white fish pate that my friend made for us.

For dinner we had meatballs (a recipe with ground beef, fresh bead crumbs, heavy cream, allspice, onion and a milk gravy), baked ring bologna (makkara) which is apparently a Finnish staple, potato patties with bacon and onion fried in bacon grease, green beans, sliced tomatoes, limpu bread and Kalamojakka.

For dessert we had rice pudding with blueberry soup and my mummu’s orange cake.  We lost my Dad January 1st of this year.  This dinner was the perfect tribute and he would have enjoyed every bite!

The star of our dinner was the Kalamojakka.  I think it was almost everyone’s favorite thing.  Followed closely by the orange cake which I blogged recently.  We actually made the mojakka the night before and slowly re-heated it for our dinner.  Like most soups, the flavors improved as all of the ingredients came together.  This was one of my Dad’s favorite meals and one I remember my mummu making very often.   My Dad and my grandpa were both avid fishermen so we always had fresh lake fish at our house.  Trout, coho, walleye, perch.  And because nothing ever went to waste, the Kalamojakka was made using all of the fish including the heads.  My grandpa would eat the meat from the cheeks.  It was probably the tastiest bit!

Ingredients:

1 to 1 1/2 pounds of cleaned fish (such as trout, pike or perch)

2 tsp of salt

2 medium onions, chopped

1-2 tsp of fresh dill weed

4 cups of water

4-5 russet potatoes peeled and diced

2 cups whole milk

4 T butter

Trim the tail and fins from the fish and slice into steaks.  Put the fish in a dutch oven and add the salt, one of the diced onions, dillweed and four cups of water.

Bring to the boiling point and simmer (without boiling) until the fish flakes when pierced with a fork but does not fall apart.

Remove the fish to a platter and strain and reserve the stock.  Return the stock to the dutch oven, add the diced potatoes and the other diced onion and cook in the stock until the potatoes are tender.  While the potatoes and onion are cooking and once the fish has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and set the fish aside.

Once the potatoes are tender add 2 cups of milk and the fish to the potatoes and stock in the dutch oven.  Simmer slowly for about 20 minutes making sure not to boil.  Add the butter and garnish with more fresh dill and salt to taste.

Ladle into bowls and enjoy with some good rye bread.  This would be the perfect time to wear your “Winner, Winner Kalamojakka Dinner shirt!!!

I purchased a loaf of limpu from the Trenary Home Bakery when I was in the UP several weeks ago and saved it for just this occasional.  I even managed to find butter from Finland.

NOTE:  This soup uses no thickening agent like cornstarch or flour so you will find that while the taste resembles chowder it is a lot brothier.   Also, when my mummu and my Dad made it, they would never had added the dill.  In fact, my Dad would have asked me “what is the green stuff in the mojakka?”

You definitely do not have to be Finnish to enjoy this soup.  And, if using the heads while making the broth makes you uncomfortable, by all means toss them.  However, I think the stock is richer when you’ve cooked the fish with the bones and the skin.

Many of the recipes for our Finnish Dinner were adapted from my favorite Finnish Cookbook.

 

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