May 26, 2010

Finnish fish pie - Kalakukko

I have a lot of memories from my childhood that involve food and flavours. It's like with any other senses; you keep them with you until one day you smell, taste, touch, see or hear something you experienced many many years ago. It must have been well over 15 years ago since I last had this pie at the summer markets in Eastern Finland and I always remember how good it tasted. This is not a pie from my home region (that being the Western border), and probably for that reason I never had the home made version of it. Since moving to Sydney I've been digging out the most traditional Finnish recipes and recreating them using the ingredients available here. This is definitely one of those recipes and I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out. It's like walking down the memory lane...

Finnish fish pie


500ml water
2 tsp salt
50g melted butter
200g plain (wheat) flour
about 600-800g rye flour (plus more for dusting)


800g whitebait, heads and tails removed, washed and dried
200g bacon, rind on
2-3 tsp salt

Mix the ingredients for the crust together and knead the dough until smooth. Sprinkle a baking surface with rye flour and roll the dough in to a large, 2 cm thick sheet. Sprinkle some more rye flour on the sheet, and layer the fish and the bacon in the middle of the sheet (sprinkle a tablespoon of rye flour in between the layers and season with salt). Place the rest of the bacon on top of the last layer of fish. Turn the sides of the dough on top of the filling and carefully, with cold water and using your fingers, seal all the seams. Rub the top of the pie dry with a little rye flour.

Bake the pie in 225C for about 30 minutes or until the surface has crisped and coloured. Take the pie out of the oven, wrap tightly in baking paper and foil and return to the oven for another 3 hours. Lower the oven to 150C or 125C towards the rest of the baking. Wrap the baked pie in a tea towel to soften the crust.

The traditional way to serve the pie is to cut the top off and then cut a piece of the crust to have with the filling. You can also have the pie with butter.