In honor of the Saint Lucia Day holiday on December 13, we’re taking a look at Swedish food in this Scandinavian edition of First Bites. While this delicious midsummer cake might not be seasonal in December, there are plenty of tasty Swedish treats to be had. So fasten your falukorv and grab the kroppkakar, this flavor train is going to be delicious!

 

 


Saffron buns (Lussekatts) – Since we’re celebrating Saint Lucia day, we’ll start with a Swedish Christmas tradition, saffron buns. These sweet yellow buns are rich and delicious, and traditionally include raisins. While they are eaten throughout the Advent season, they are most popular as a St. Lucia’s Day treat.

 

Fish, fish and more fish – As a largely coastal nation, Sweden’s cuisine is filled with oodles of fish. Roasted fish, smoked fish, pickled fish, boiled fish… (Bubba would be proud). From pickled herring with potatoes, to salmon mousse, shrimp (rakkor) cooked in their shells or Gravlax (smoked salmon) on toast, fish is a staple of the Swedish food culture.

Lingonberries – One of the most traditional and popular Swedish ingredients is the lingonberry. Long winters make sustaining a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables challenging in Sweden and lingonberry preserves are used to add flavor and freshness to many traditional dishes.

Falukorv – This mild Swedish sausage is made with lightly seasoned pork and beef (or veal). It is one of the country’s most popular kinds of sausage served and is traditionally eaten with potatoes, pasta, beans or onions and mustard.

Meatballs (Kottbullar) – One trip to Ikea and you’ll know why these morsels are so delectable. Okay, so we can’t actually vouch for the authenticity of the Ikea recipe, but their Swedish meatballs are pretty stinking delicious. Homemade Swedish meatballs are even better and are moist and flavor, made with beef and pork and simmered in creamy, savory gravy. The thing that differentiates Swedish meatballs from say, Italian meatballs are the spices used (salt, pepper, allspice, sometimes nutmeg) and the gravy.

Kroppkakar – Potatoes are a staple of Swedish cuisine in many forms and potato dumplings or Kroppkakar are among the most popular potato dishes. The dumplings are traditionally filled with onions, pork or bacon and served with lingonberry preserves, butter or cream.

Swedish Pancakes – Think crepes, only a bit thicker. Swedish pancakes and traditional French crepes use very similar ingredients and are much larger and thinner than traditional American griddle cakes. Swedes generally stick to sweet fillings for their pancakes, filling or topping them with sugar, fruit, preserves, and even ice cream.

 

 

Have you tried Swedish food? If you’re in the Chicago area, head down to Andersonville for some authentic Swedish eats and let us know what you think. Or share your favorite Scandinavian dish below so we can try it on our own!

FirstBites shares pictures, thoughts and advice about the foods and flavors you’ve always wanted to try. Hungry for more? Check out our guides to tapassushiIndian foodbrunch, Irish foodMexican food and Ethiopian foodBBQ, and British Food!