Finnish blazing salmon and Demon’s Gate

Last weekend we went to visit Mr. No Onion Please parents. They live in North Karelia region of Finland, a truly beautiful land that I find so peaceful and relaxing. One evening we enjoyed blazing salmon (scroll down for the recipe), a Finnish way of preparing fish, where it is part cooked part smoked in indirect heat from the open fire. It is a really simple dish, just fish and salt, but the flavour is really superb. But, before we shoveled those delicious calories down, we “worked” hard to deserve them πŸ˜‰ We went for 21km hike through the Finnish wilderness.

On Saturday we travelled roughly 80km North to another region called Kainuu, which i have always thought of as the Kingdom of Bear (I have no idea why, though, but I think they really have a huge bear population there). Just next to the border with North Karelia there is an area where 3 nature protected areas merge and several hiking paths are established. We decided to visit two of those places – the Teerisuo-Luososuo reserve and Hiidenportti National Park. We set off with 11km trail in Teerisuo.

The trail winds through spruce forest, an area where the forest transforms to mire and the open mire.Β  The forest is plentiful in mushrooms, billberries (wild blueberries) and crowberries (anyone of you collecting those?). In the transition area we found quite many cloudberries. I’ve mentioned already HERE how difficult it is to collect those, and actually this year is the first time since I live here that I’ve found them on several occasions! Once the path enters the open mire, there is nothing to forage on, but the views are really pretty.

What I really admire about Finnish hiking paths is that basically there is always a set place to barbecue or even a small shelter to sleep. Look, they even prepare and store chopped wood for you!!! One just needs to take the sausages and matches πŸ™‚

Once we came back, we jumped into our car and drove around 20km further to hike on a 10km trail in the Hiidenportti National Park. Hiidenportti means Demon’s Gate and the name comes from an old folks tale. Basically, the gorge, which is a centrepiece of the park, was supposed to be a retrieval of Hiisi demon. The gorge isn’t big, it’s only 20m deep, but it’s quite picturesque.

The path follows the edge of the gorge occasionally passing through spruce forest or small mires. Once the gorge ends, there is a bridge, a bbq place and then the path follows back on the other side of the gorge. We had a really great time, but got back to Mr. No Onion’s Please parents quite tired and hungry. Fortunately they planned sauna and bbq for the evening, so our Saturday was really fabulous.

Now back to the blazing salmon. The preparation is quite simple. You need a piece of the fish, wooden plank, wooden pegs (ehem, or nails if pegs can’t be found around πŸ˜‰ ), some salt, water and open fire. You place the fish filee on the plank and attach it with the pegs.Β  Dissolve some salt in a glass of water and brush the fish with it. Then attach the plank vertically, 30-50cm from the open fire. Brush the fish with salty water every now and then. It is important that the heat isn’t direct, the fish is supposed to cook very slowly, just as the warm smoky air passes next to it. It took us around 40 min before the fish was ready. Best to check with a toothpick if it’s ready.

Advertisements

Pimp up your porridge I – the youth serum

I thought of making a short series of fast and tasty breakfasts that are packed with nutrients. You see, Finland is THE country when it comes to porridge love. No, I can’t tell any statistics here, but I bet that puuro, as it is called here, is actually the most commonly eaten breakfast in this part of the world. And yes, it’s very healthy and yes, it is hated by many as they were forced to eat it as kids.Β  But believe me, you just need to spice it up with some seasonal additions to actually like or WHOA, even love it (and add even more nutritional value to your meal). In many countries porridge is simply called oatmeal, and as the name says it’s made of oats. Here though, an addition of rye is very common, that’s why I’ll be talking always about porridge on my blog. No matter if you just eat oats, or just rye or combination of those two or any other grains, porridge is one of the superfoods to bring you health and wellbeing.

To pimp up your porridge you really don’t need much, a handful of seasonal fruits plus a complementing spice is already plentiful. Here I combined cherries with cinnamon – those two fit so well together! Do you know that cherries are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and can even assist in regulating the blood pressure, not to say how darn tasty they actually are. Cherries have hit the list of so called superfoods and they are so valuable that a glass of cherry juice is said to be equivalent of 23 fruit portions! So, eat cherries and make your momma proud πŸ˜‰

You thought I would stop there? Ah, life with me isn’t that easy πŸ˜‰ To boost the antioxidant levels even more, I added several spoons of Goji berries. Have you heard of those yet? They are the new craze among the superfoods fans. I’m quite sceptical to call them wonder berries, yetΒ  no one can deny they are tasty and full of “youth chemistry” we are so much for in this porridge. Oh, and did I already mention that even cinnamon isΒ  plentiful in antioxidants and antimicrobial agents? Yes, search no more for the youth serum, just pimp up your regular porridge πŸ˜‰

***

INGREDIENTS

rye and oat porridge

milk

2 handfuls of cherries, halved and pitted

4 tbsp goji berries

1 tbsp cinnamon

1-2 tbsp demerara sugar

pinch of salt

***

Prepare your porridge on milk (a portion for 2), add cinnamon, salt and sugar and slowly simmer till ready. Just before taking it off the heat, throw Goji berries and cherries in.