Fresh and colourful Nordic cuisine

 We have a better understanding of what the Vikings ate through archeological finds. Here are some examples of food species excavated from Dublin during the Viking age: fish – cod, ling; shellfish – cockles, mussels, oysters, scallops; cereals – wheat, rye, oats, barley; fruits – blackberries, apples, strawberries, sloes, elderberries, cherries, plums, hawthorns, mountain ashes, rose hips; vegetables – nettle, brassicas, celery, carrot, radish, fennel; legumes – peas; nuts – hazelnuts; and others including black mustard, poppy seeds and rapeseeds.

Nordic cuisine © Adrian Cheah

The fresh and colourful Nordic salad is served on a rectangular slate with Hollandaise sauce. The shallots infused with vanilla and pickle vegetables are memorable.

From the list above, it is no doubt that the Vikings enjoyed healthy, tasty food and a balanced diet. However, climate, lifestyle and isolation landscapes were three key factors that largely shaped Viking food. Smoked, dried and salted meats and fish were common back then on the Viking palate with small amounts of vegetables.

My first encounter with Nordic cuisine was in 2012 at Suffolk House in Penang. Photographing Chef Nizar Achmad’s Nordic cuisine was an exciting experience.

Nordic cuisine © Adrian Cheah

The mushroom soup with whipped whisky cream has a combination of mushrooms including the sought-after chanterelle mushroom.

Nizar’s creations reflected a clean, streamlining Scandinavian style, emphasising the freshness of food and its and uncomplicated flavours. They were also a visual feast that would get your mouth watering even before you sampled your first bite.

Nordic cuisine © Adrian Cheah

The four-hour braised lamb served with mixed mushrooms, black truffle, olives, mashed potato and mojo rojo besides the butter nut puree.

Nordic cuisine © Adrian Cheah

The Shiitake lasagna, a vegetarian dish served with salad and truffle sauce.

Born and bred in Indonesia, Chef Nizar lives in Sweden and is known for cleverly inventing creative food styles in Stockholm’s culinary scene. Today, Chef Nizar runs Warung, located on Långholmsgatan 3 in Hornstull serving Indonesian/Swedish fusion. Excited by fresh and organic ingredients, as well as those foraged from the Swedish forest, he is constantly on the quest for new flavours. With good service and flavourful dishes, Warung is listed among the 600 best restaurant in Sweden by White Guide in 2017.

Nordic cuisine © Adrian Cheah

The sinfully delicious dessert includes a trio of macaroon with whisky-infused pineapple jam, chocolate cake and raspberry sorbet.

Written and photographed by Adrian Cheah
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First published in Irish Insights, No 11, May 2017 issue