In the northeast of Europe and surrounded by the Baltic Sea is Finland, a country with five and a half million inhabitants. Today at El Viajero Feliz we will take a gastronomic journey through the Finnish typical food. You will know which are the most representative dishes, their traditions and influences.
Did you know that Finland was part of Sweden until 1809? So it was, and a following year Finland was annexed to the Russian empire. Both Finnish and Swedish are spoken in this territory. And not only its architecture and art are influenced by both the Swedish and Russian cultures, but also its gastronomy.
Typical food of Finland: introduction to its gastronomy
As in all national states, in Finland we cannot speak of a clear gastronomic unity either, since, depending on the region of the country, some ingredients or cooking methods change. For example, in some parts of Finland fish and meat are the main ingredients; in others it is vegetables and mushrooms. In general, Finnish dishes have various whole grains such as rye, oats or barley.
Secondly, also migrations have influenced the typical food of Finland, which today combines traditional cuisine and contemporary continental gastronomic styles. It is common to also find berries in their dishes such as blueberry, sea buckthorn or cloudberry. It is even noteworthy that milk and its derivatives, such as butter, are generally used not only as ingredients in recipes, but also as beverages. Join us!
This is probably one of the most representative dishes of Finland. Karelian cakes, or karjalanpiirakka in Finnish, are snacks that, although traditional from the Karelia region, are now consumed throughout Finland. The dough that surrounds this cake is usually made of rye and is filled with rice.
This rice is made with milk and salt. Other known fillings for this cake are talkkuna and barley. Butter is put on this cake and the most delicious mixture to accompany it has munavoi, a kind of boiled eggs. They are rarely seen anymore, but if you find a Karelian cake with a thick rye crust, do not hesitate to try it, as they are one of the most traditional.
Also from the region of Karelia, although in turn from Savonia, kalakukko is part of the typical Finnish meal with fish. It is a bread where a type of fish typical of the region is cooked, after all, the kalakukko is a fish hornazo. The flour with which this bread is made is generally rye mixed with wheat flour and butter.
If you want to try this dish in the most traditional way, then you must make sure that the fish inside is white venison. However, it is true that in many restaurants it is served with European perch, smelt or salmon. We recommend ordering it with milk or with the traditional buttermilk. Did you know that the term kalakukko translates to “hidden fish”? Interesting and delicious!
This soup is well known in the cuisine of several European countries: Holland, Sweden, Germany and, of course, Finland. Even the soup is made a lot even in Australia. In all cases, this is a pea soup where this main ingredient is mashed to a puree.. This dish is usually served at home or in schools, it is really part of the Finnish diet.
It is so consumed that it is not only prepared at home, but also has a wide range of preserves for sale in local restaurants. Of course, each region has its variations on the soup, both gastronomically and linguistically. However, in the Finnish version, this soup can have pork leg, oregano, mustard and pepper.
Are you still wondering about the typical food of Finland? We can’t stop talking about leipajussto, a delicious cheese bread from northern Finland. It is a fresh cheese made from the colostrum of the cow, the milk that the cow produces after giving birth. If it is very traditional and handmade, leipajussto is made with goat’s milk and even reindeer’s, which are a somewhat different color.
The curdled milk is placed in a container that forms a round disk several centimeters thick. The leipajussto is traditionally baked, although it is also grilled or flamed. In all its preparations it is delicious! You can order it for breakfast with some coffee.
Poronkäristys is one of the many typical Finnish foods that are made with reindeer meat. The truth is that its preparation ingredients are very simple. Apart from this type of meat, it only has butter, salt, pepper, water and onion. The meat is simply put on top of butter and onion, to be baked over medium heat.
In recent decades, ingredients such as garlic or peppers have been added to the recipe. What the poronkäristys does dream of carrying is some beer. If you go to order the poronkäristys and it is not served with mashed potatoes, you are being served an untraditional dish. Make sure that the poronkäristys is next to or on mashed potatoes and check that the meat is brown.
Lihapullat are basically meatballs made of minced meat, but they are special because they are prepared in the Finnish style.. The meatballs have several ingredients that make them special and delicious. You can feel in the lihapullat pieces of bread that before being prepared are dipped in milk.
In addition, soft onions that have already been fried, eggs and spices (mainly black pepper, which is the most used in this country) are added to these meatballs. As you can imagine, with all these ingredients the buns or meatballs are made. These pieces are then baked in a pan or oven. These meatballs are often served with pasta, macaroni, mashed potatoes, French fries, or potatoes in sauce.
Within the typical food of Finland that is cured we find the graavilohi which is basically cured fish. This dish is also called as gravlax, gravad lax and graavadlax. Generally, the fish is washed, the fillets with skin and all are removed, all their bones are removed and the meat is mixed with salt, sugar and pepper.
All of these ingredients are rubbed onto the fish. There is one more spice that cannot be forgotten, as it gives it the special Finnish touch: chopped dried dill. Fish with these ingredients is left to rest in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning the fish is ready to be cut and served. Accompaniments for this dish can be lemon, mustard sauce, and more dill.
We have talked about many main dishes of typical Finnish food, but we cannot stop talking about its bread, which is known as ruisleipa. Why talk about Finnish bread? Well, almost all the dishes in this country are served with bread, and not just any kind, but the regional bread (ruisleipa). There are two main types of bread in Finland: rye and wheat.
However, you can also find wheat bread, oatmeal and potato. But, regardless of the wide range of bread that you can find in the country, the most consumed is rye bread: bitter and dark. The bread varieties you find in the Aland region, which is Swedish-speaking, are influenced by Swedish cuisine.
Typical Finnish food? We can’t stop talking about korvapuusti, delicious Finnish rolls. These are cinnamon rolls of Swedish origin sprinkled sweetly. The preparation begins with a stretched yeast dough, covered in butter and rolled up. After that it is not only sprinkled with sugar, but also with cinnamon. The korvapuusti can be accompanied with a coffee.
We finish this selection of typical Finnish food with another sweet bread from this country, the Finnish pulla. In addition to cinnamon, the pulla has cardamom, which is the flavor that characterizes it. We can also mention the brown sugar that is essential to give it that sweet touch. The preparation ends with a biscuit texture that makes it irresistible to the palate.. Finnish pulla is a perfect preparation for strong winters.
So far our entry on the typical food of Finland has arrived. You know that at El Viajero Feliz we not only like to get to know the world by walking through its cities and natural landscapes, but also to discover the different cuisines of the territories. However, we believe that traveling knowledge is also built with you, who are behind the screens. Therefore, we await your contributions and opinions on this entry: Do you know Finland? Have you tried any of these dishes? Would you add any other? We read you below, in the comments section.