Although not large, there has been a Jewish presence in Scandinavia since long before Jews were evacuated to neutral Sweden during the Holocaust. And while there’s little Jewish influence in Scandinavian culture, there are delicious common cultural threads. One such tradition is lox, or lax as it’s known in Swedish. There’s no secret that throughout Scandinavian and Jewish culture, a variety of smoked fish, and specifically salmon, is much loved. As a matter of fact, gravlax, salt-brined and cold-smoked salmon, is a traditional Scandinavian means of preparing this popular fish. Also common to both traditions is rye bread, and while Swedish rye is lighter in color (and often enjoyed with ham), it’s a flavor that’s pervasive throughout Eastern Europe and the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition.
Want to try gravlax for yourself? JewishBoston.com’s food blogger has a great make-ahead recipe. The Food Network’s Ina Garten, who also happens to be Jewish, is also a fan of this fish dish; check out her recipe for gravlax with mustard sauce. For the ultimate Swedish-Jewish mash-up, serve your gravlax with rye bread.
Don’t feel like waiting 48 hours to cure your own? Get your fill of smoked fish, rye bread and Scandinavian treats at the Smörgåsbord Nordic Food Festival, hosted by the Scandinavian Cultural Center in Newton on Saturday, Sept. 20. You’ll have the opportunity to sample a diverse array of traditional dishes made modern by great local chefs. And don’t forget to enter the raffle to win a Marimekko tea set!
See you there!