10 things we love about Swedish food
Martin Moses, chef-owner of Swedish restaurant Human, shares the things he loves most about his homeland, plus a comforting recipe for creamy mushroom soup
Want to learn more about Swedish food? Looking for Swedish recipes and dishes to try? Read our guide below then check out our guide to Gothenburg's restaurants. We also have our 10 things we love about Icelandic cuisine, Austrian cuisine and Hungarian cuisine.
Martin Moses, former Swedish chef of the year, headed up Gothenburg’s Michelin-starred SK Mat & Människor before opening his own restaurant, Human, in late 2021. New Nordic dishes include tiny crab croquettes topped with langoustine emulsion, fired Arkør prawns with tangy fennel salad and local tomatoes, and Swedish peas and beans with burnt lardo, buttered onion beurre blanc and raw liquorice powder.
10 things we love about Swedish cuisine
Although summer crayfish parties are an iconic Swedish tradition, we celebrate shellfish all year round. Lobster and langoustine season runs from October until January. We boil them with beer and dill, peel and eat with mayonnaise, bread and salad. We celebrate New Year’s Eve with lobster or langoustine, oven baked in a creamy garlic sauce, with crusty bread, soup made from the shells, and shots of aromatic akvavit.
Sweden's forests grow wild mushrooms, with chanterelles popping up in the greener forests in early June, then in autumn across pine woods and darker forests. These are served simply on toast in a creamy sauce, to add richness to gravy for classic Swedish meatballs or to accompany venison or reindeer.
According to tradition, when you visit family or friends for coffee, you should be offered at least seven different types of biscuit. This evolved from the 19th century when coffee became legal to drink and kafferep (coffee parties) became popular. Modern Swedes don’t eat seven cookies every time they have fika but linger over sweet treats (including cinnamon buns, cardamom buns and more) and filter coffee most days.
Sweden’s nature is very open and, according to the allemansrätten, you can freely forage for mushrooms and berries. Lingonberries, cloudberries and tiny Swedish strawberries carpet the forests. Blueberries are uniquely white inside, while bilberries are sweeter, smaller and juicier. These are used in desserts and bakes such as latticed bilberry tart, blueberry pie and cloudberry parfait.
I have two kids and this iconic tradition is still very much alive. Each Saturday, Swedes make their selection from pick and mix kiosks, including sweet and salty varieties of liquorice.
Pickling and preserving
Swedish chefs and households extend the life of seasonal ingredients by preserving them. Salmon is cured in sugar, salt and dill to create gravadlax, while green strawberries, pine spruce and elderflowers are pickled to prolong summer’s bounty.
Archipelago day boats
Sweden’s waters are free to fish. Most of the surrounding islands have their own shrimp boats, from which you can buy fresh shrimp and langoustines, sometimes cooked by the fisherman. Freshly caught shrimp from the fisherman’s Saturday boat is a unique archipelago ritual.
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During the cold season, the waters are filled with herring. On all big occasions there’s always a place for herring – for example, the traditional matjesill (pickled with dill, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and sandalwood), served with soured cream, chives, red onions and potatoes. But there are new ways of serving each year as generations adapt and evolve.
Swedes have a sustainable-forward way of living, and Gothenburg in the West of Sweden is one of the world’s most sustainable cities. There’s a zero-waste attitude at the forefront of every business, from eco bakeries to wineries using environmentally friendly cans and rejuvenation of wasteland into urban farms. The city pulses with new initiatives, such as seaweed farms to create sustainable ingredients for crispbreads.
Gothenburg boasts more than 40 craft breweries, making it the Swedish capital of craft beer. The city’s beer scene is primed for innovation and all the small breweries work together and share ingredients, customers and knowledge.
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