Norwegian food – isn’t it good for Selkirk

County Hotel, Selkirk  Norwegian event
County Hotel, Selkirk Norwegian event
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SELKIRK will take on a Norwegian flavour for three days next week

The Norwegian owners of the County Hotel in the town, Trond Arne Dalby and Will Hægeland, are inviting Borderers to celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day next Thursday with them.

A representative from a Norwegian ship company which delivers mail and cargo and carries tourists up and down the country’s coastline will give a talk next Saturday.

And following communication with the Norwegian Embassy and other organisations, there will be a display about the country in the County Hotel’s restaurant.

Mr Hægeland said the move follows prompting from customers – and people who saw television chefs, the Hairy Bikers, baking Norwegian bread.

“So many people have asked us about Norwegian food we thought we would do a Norwegian celebration and put on a Norwegian menu from May 17 to 20,” he said.

Norway’s national holiday is on May 17 when the king and queen will be on their balcony in Oslo waving to crowds and children’s parades take place throughout the Scandanavian country.

“It’s a big celebration in Norway. Schoolchildren and adults are in national costume, marching in the streets, waving Norwegian flags and shouting hurray,” said Mr Hægeland.

So far 30 people have signed up to hear about the Hurtigruten cruise ships and their voyages in the first presentation at 3.30pm. Spaces remain for the second talk at 5.30pm. The boats call at 34 ports, most never visited by commercial cruise liners, delivering freight, post and passengers to remote communities.

“They are proper working ships and go into small ports and harbours. It’s a very different trip than cruises in the Mediterranean,” said Mr Hægeland.

Concerning the food the hotel is lining up he said: “It will mostly be dishes we grew up with rather than restaurant-type food. We’re going to try to do some of the breads the Hairy Bikers had on their programme because people have asked us about it. The kitchen has been researching the recipes and hope to recreate some of them.”

Norwegian breads are more like German than British bread – darker, with more rye. “There’s more food in them,” said Mr Hægeland.

“Norway is a fishing nation so quite a lot of the food is based on fish and fish dishes.”

One dish the hotel will feature is fish balls – as common in Norway as fish and chips here – and which are served traditionally with a white fish sauce, carrots and boiled potatoes, but which will be jazzed up a little at the hotel.

Also appearing on a menu will be a Norwegian chocolate pudding – more like a crème caramel then British chocolate puddings, said Mr Hægeland.

To finish off, diners will be invited to taste Norway’s brown cheese which Mr Hægeland said tastes sweeter than British cheese and which would be a regular in children’s lunch boxes with Norwegian bread.

The hotel tried to get lutefisk, a cured fish which dates back to the 15th century and is traditionally eaten around Christmas, but Britain bans its importation. However, the hotel will be making its own gravlaks – invented by the Norwegians not the Swedes stressed Mr Hægeland – and offering it as a starter.

“The main thing is to get a bit of Norwegian food on our menu and see people’s reactions, to offer people a bit of the flavour of Norway. We were surprised to see how many people in this community have links to Norway – I was home recently and there was a person I knew from Selkirk on the flight! Norway is a small country and so is Scotland, and there have been many links dating back to the Vikings,” said Mr Hægeland.

Recipes

Gravlax

A Scandinavian speciality dating back to the middle ages. The name, “grav “meaning digging down and “laks” meaning salmon, the culinary term “dig down salmon” stems from fishermen fermenting the salmon by burying it in the sand on the beach. Today, the method is different. The salmon is cured by osmosis in a dry salt/sugar cure. Gravlaks is often served in the same way as smoked salmon and used as a starter or light lunch course, often accompanied by a mustard-flavoured dressing or crème fraîche. However, in Norway it is also often used as a main course with Dauphinoise or cream and dill stewed potatoes

Here is the recipe for making your own Gravlaks:

1 kg salmon fillet, pin-boned

300g fine table salt

30 g castor sugar

1-2tsp ground white pepper

A good bunch of dill

2 raw beetroots (optional)

50ml akevitt or brandy (optional)

Check your salmon for any fine bones and use tweezers to remove these. If you have one large fillet, cut this in two across so that you have two pieces. Alternatively, use two smaller fillets.

Mix together salt, sugar and pepper. Wash, peel and grate the beetroot. Wash and chop the dill, including stalks. Mix beetroot and dill. If you want to experiment with any other flavours/spices, these should now be mixed in.

You need a high, rimmed plastic dish large enough to hold one fillet piece flat down. Do not use steel or other metal dishes. Cover the bottom of the dish with ¼ of your salt/sugar and beetroot/dill mix. Place the first fillet piece in the dish, skin side down. Cover the top of the fillet with ¼ of salt/sugar, rubbing this lightly into the fish. Then cover with ½ of what’s left of the beetroot/dill mix. Pour ½ of the alcohol over.

Take the second piece of fillet and rub this lightly with salt/sugar mix, then, holding it over the dish, drip the rest of the alcohol on. Place the second fillet skin-side up on top of the first fillet.

Put rest of the salt/sugar and beetroot/dill mixes over the top of the second salmon piece.

Cover the dish tightly with cling-film and place in the refrigerator. You will soon see that the cure extracts water from the fish. Turn the salmon in the cure after a few hours, and then turn it twice a day. After two days, in the cure, the fish is ready to serve.

Lift it from the cure and wipe off the salt/sugar, beetroot/dill mix. It can now be sliced into thin slices, just like smoked salmon.

Gravlaks will keep 3-4 days in the fridge, alternatively you may freeze it and it will keep for up to 3 months.

Bread

800g fine wholemeal wheat flour

500g coarse wholemeal wheat flour

200g fine wholemeal rye flour

340g bran

40g linseed

120g sunflower seeds

50g fresh yeast

2tsp salt

about 1.8 litre lukewarm water

about 10ml olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in some of the lukewarm water.

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Keep a third of the flour mix back. Make a well in the rest and pour the water, including the yeast, into the bowl, then the oil . Start mixing flour, water and oil. This should make soft dough. Add more of the flour mix, a little at a time, knead the dough with your hands till it feel elastic and does not stick to your fingers.

Cover the bowl with cling-film and cloth and leave to prove in a non-drafty place for about 40 minutes.

Put the dough together again with your hands, knead it for a couple of minutes. If you need to, use a bit of strong flour to prevent it from sticking to your hands. Prove again for about 20 minutes.

Now put the dough directly into bread tins that have been well greased with butter – or use baking paper. Use a little lukewarm water on your hands to even out the top of the bread in the tin. Put in a 200C oven for about an hour.