Recipe: Niklas Ekstedt’s Hot-Smoked Herring with Clams and Heritage Carrots
Looking for a flavourful week-night dish? This hot-smoked herring recipe with clams and heritage carrots from Niklas Ekstedt’s cookbook, Ekstedt, is the perfect traditional Swedish meal.
‘With equal parts of birch wood and passion, we keep the flames alive,’ says Niklas, Michelin-starred chef and manager of Ekstedt restaurant. ‘At Ekstedt it is the flames that are superior.’
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. 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.
Serves 4 as a main course
- 4 herrings
- 300–500g coarse sea salt
- 3–6 carrots (preferably heritage carrots)
- 20 fresh clams
- 90g butter
- 1 tablespoon Apple Cider
- 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.
Ekstedt – The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking by Niklas Ekstedt is out now (Bloomsbury, £36)