Honouring the traditions of Nordic food and open-fire cooking at the heart of his eponymous restaurant, Niklas Ekstedt has released a new collection of recipes – ‘Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking’.
After stints at some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants, Niklas Ekstedt opened Michelin-starred Ekstedt in Stockholm in 2011, showcasing innovative Nordic cooking. At Ekstedt, only Scandinavian wood is used in the restaurant’s smokers or wood-fired oven, imparting unique character and flavour. While the chef’s abandonment of modern technology will be difficult to completely replicate at home, ‘Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking’ is an essential barbecue companion, featuring insightful tips on tools and techniques, plus a collection of recipes to be enjoyed year-round.
Ekstedt is also at the heart of the new book, providing the foundation for the chef’s stories of seasonal and regional Swedish cooking, filled with recipes for restaurant dishes such as braised lamb shoulder with seaweed butter; pine-smoked mussels; and hot-smoked herring with clams and heritage carrots.
Hot-smoked herring, clams & heritage carrots recipe
“The most common fish in Sweden is probably herring, which is usually pickled. We eat it at pretty much every holiday – midsummer, Christmas and Easter.
“We even eat it fermented, or ‘surströmming’, with flatbread, soured cream, red onion and boiled almond potatoes. This might not be to everyone’s taste, but it is traditional … and schnapps and lager are part of the menu. In this recipe we smoke the herring straight on a burning log of birch.
“In Sweden are there two varieties of herring: strömming and sill. Strömming live in the Baltic Sea with brackish water, while Sill are found in the south of the Baltic Sea and along the Swedish and Norwegian west coast. Sill are usually larger and fattier.” – Niklas Ekstedt
Serves 4 as a main course
For the salt-baked carrots
300–500g coarse sea salt
3–6 carrots (preferably heritage carrots)
For the clams
20 fresh clams
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
For the carrots, make a layer of sea salt about 3cm thick in a roasting tin. Place the carrots on top and bake for 20–30 minutes until they are tender. Remove from the oven and scrape off the skins using a tea towel. Cut each carrot in half lengthways and then into 3–5cm-long pieces.
Clean the herrings and cut off the fins and head. Butterfly each herring by removing the backbone but keeping the fillets attached to the skin in one piece. Season with a pinch of salt on each side. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Clean and rinse the clams in cold water. Drain. Heat a wide pan over a high heat. Add the clams, cover with a lid and steam for 3–4 minutes, stirring regularly, until all the clams are open. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir until the butter has melted, then add the vinegar. Strain the liquid into another pan and set aside. Reserve the clams.
Place each butterflied herring, skin side down, on a burning log to smoke for 3 minutes. Flip the herrings over and smoke for a further 1 minute. Meanwhile, heat the carrots and clams in the buttery clam jus. To serve, top the herrings with the clams, carrots and jus.
Recipe adapted from Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking by Niklas Ekstedt (Bloomsbury Absolute, £40). Photography © David Loftus.
Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking is out now.