Sunday, 27 October 2013

Lemin särä; the oldest traditional food in Finland

Whew, we're starting with a big one. Lemin särä is supposed to be the oldest of the traditional foods in Finland. At least the oldest that we have records of and where the recipe is still somewhere. It was recently selected as the new export of Finnish food. This wasn't anything official though, but the national broadcasting company had a theme week on one of their programs and that was focusing on... surprise surprise, traditional Finnish food. People could vote on their favorite and this food was the winner of that.

It's name comes from two things; the place where it has originated (Lemi) and the trough that is traditionally used to prepare it. The through (also "särä") was made of a big piece of birch tree, that you gouge until it resembles a trough. After you have that, you are supposed to soak the trough in salted water for one full week. After that you will still treat it with the tallow of a lamb and put it in the after warmth of a wooden oven before it is ready for use.

For the actual food you will need 1 kilo of mutton and 1 kilo of potatoes. In the traditional recipe you would put the meat on the trough and put that in a wooden oven in 200 Celsius for several hours. After some time you'd add the potatoes and let them bake in the same trough and soak the taste from the mutton. That's a very very simplified version of it all.

That's not very practical in a modern kitchen however so we had to think of something else. We soaked the mutton in salted water for 2 hours, then gently dried the surface of the mutton with a paper cloth. After that put the mutton in a smoker bag. If you have a smoker, that works well too. Put the bag in the oven that has been pre-heated to 300 Celcius. Let it be there for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 200 Celsius and let the mutton be there for 25 minutes.

Take the mutton out of the smoking bag and put it on a casserole. Pour all the meat juice from the bag with the mutton, because it has plenty of flavor now. Put the casserole back into the oven in 150 Celsius for approximately 2 hours. Remember to baste the lamb with the meat juice every now and then so it won't go dry.

After 2 hours, take the casserole out, pour all the meat juice in a pot. Add the potatoes to the pot and cover them with water. Cook until the potatoes are half-cooked. Season with salt. In the meantime, put the mutton back into the oven, so that it doesn't get cool. Cover it with foil so it doesn't get dry.

Once the potatoes are half-cooked, add them to the casserole. Pour all the liquid from the pot on the mutton and potatoes and put back in the oven, still in 150 Celsius, for another hour and a half. Now you have successfully made your first Lemin räsä. Enjoy.


1 kg mutton
1 kg potatoes
1 smoker bag

New beginnings

Hi y'all and welcome to the new blog. This blog will be centered around Finnish food and especially somewhat traditional Finnish food. I've experienced the question "So, what's traditional Finnish food?" quite often and I have to admit, I haven't always even known what to answer. Of course I knew the things that even some foreigners know, Karelia's pastries, reindeer in different forms etc. But of course there's so much more to the traditional Finnish cuisine than that.

It took a random Friday night a couple of months ago when me and my flat mate (the one doing the cooking) were grocery shopping and suddenly thought about doing something traditional for once. We decided to try rye bread from scratch. After a couple of minutes there were already a lot bigger list of things that might be fun to try and fast forward a bit more and we came up with the idea to start a blog about it.

A quick glance showed that there wasn't much blogs, let alone active ones that focused on that subject. That's how Perinneruokaa prkl was born. We did start it in Finnish, but kept on thinking that we need to get the information out also in English. In the end a separate blog seemed like the best option and as a result... well, here we are.

Let's take a short introduction also on the people behind the blog. Antti (that's me), the one doing most of the blogging, is a wannabe-blogger and as a daily job working for an international association operating also in Europe. He's travelled around a bit, having lived over 4 years in total abroad. Mika, the one doing most of the cooking, is a future-cook who is currently following his dream and getting the correct education to match his passion.

We'll keep updating this blog at least once a week, but since we're a bit ahead with the Finnish one, you have the possibility to affect what will be published and when. Go ahead and take a look of the other blog and let us know what you want to see in this one and we'll try to make it happen. Be prepared that the food vocabulary can get just a little bit creative every now and then, since that vocabulary is not the most familiar to me yet. But I'll improve, I promise.

But now, we'll start planning on which recipe will be published on this site as the first one.

Let us know your thoughts, wishes and feedback.

Yours traditionally,

Antti & Mika