The Southernmost Swedish Ceviche pt.2

21 Nov

The summer of 2010 I spent a lot of time with my lovely family since I was leaving Sweden for New York in the end of the summer.

Off that summer, four weeks were set up to be spent in Skane – in order for me to say bye to the people I love the most.

In my phonecalls with Johan throughout the spring of 2010 I had got to know how the part of the Baltic sea outside where they live all of a sudden had gotten to be a promising water for fishing. Johan told me how he and his family never came home from a fishing expedition without less than 15 cods. In a very classic Johan way, he also told me that the fish was waiting for me – eager to be caught. Just as a kid before christmas, I started to count the days left before I was going there and regrediating back to childhood for a short period of time – a few weeks before reaching the mature age of 18, moving to NYC and therefore officially becoming a man.

That spring passed so quickly, probably because all of it just was a long wait for graduation. Before I had counted the days, I was on the schoolyard dressed in my graduation hat and suit with hundreds of fellow graduates and the other day I was on the train on my way to Skane with my family. I was so excited – so much looking forward to be with the people I love the most; mum, sister, Johan, Janna, Pelle and this time my best friend Daniel was coming along. It was the first time anyone except my family got to see how my life was at my extended family. To my friends, my life there only equaled leaving from Stockholm every holiday, not much more than that. To be honest, I think Daniel understood why after that summer.

We had a wonderful time. The extraordinary weather allowed us to do all the activities a summer in Skane should include. Soccer, volleyball, bathing, tanning, boat expeditions and cooking. The time just passed faster and faster the closer I got to 18.

The day before I was leaving it was time for the fishing expedition I so much had been longing for. What made me even more excited was; that very day our catch would be our dinner which meant I had an amazing cooking experience waiting for me.

At 7PM the boat was loaded and we slowly headed towards the cod-rich waters of the horizon ( waters Johan later told me were the best in Sweden for cod-fishing) – the Swedish coastline slowly diminishing in the rear. When we had reached our fishing spot twenty minutes later, the sky was altering to red as the sun was slowly reaching sunset. Since we were four people in the boat, we had to see to it the fish equipment was separated so it did not tangle in the water.

Although we had a nice time, an hour without any catch felt like three.

But as they say; patience is a fisherman’s best friend. If I had not learned that before, that was the day I realized it for shore.

Just when I was about to give up and call it the night, I felt something pulling my rod. I looked around me in shock. I was not the only one.

I looked to my right, I looked to my left. Everybody had got fish. And I was not the only one in shock. Since that was the case, not much had to be said. Eventually, the laconic atmosphere altered to its opposite. Now we found ourselves laughing singing screaming at the same time as everybody was hauling up fish come god knows whence. Maybe, faith had driven the boat to a spot where there were immense amounts of cod. Maybe where a cod party was held. If that was the case, we surely offered the cods a hell of an afterparty in our boat and later on the grill.

Time passed so quickly. It was getting darker. After a while, the only light was the bright and beautiful full moon. As some of you fishermen may know, when you have been lucky to get such a catch, seagulls often flock around you hoping to get something. I counted we had 20 cods – lots of freezer food, a great dinner, and yes, seagulls, some food for you.

We were all pleased and the boat was slowly approaching land. The beautiful low-level coastline of Abbekas was getting clearer.

I looked at the people beside me; these were the people that had shaped me – made me the one I am. They were all sitting in the same boat. My wonderful mom who raised me and taught me how to cook – the best thing someone probably every has given me, next to her sat my lovely sister which I lack the words to describe how much I love, my “brother” Pelle, his lovable mother Janna and the man that knew the most about me of all people on earth – Johan.

I looked at the moon. I started to think. That very moment I realized something I will always remember.

This was probably the last time we all sat in the same boat – a boat of safety, a boat there you always knew your place, where you knew the people around you would take care of you.

Now it was time for me to board a new boat an leave the old one behind. It was time to board a boat and steer it towards a new part of my life; navigating through responsibilities and possibilities. This was the day I was not a kid anymore. I was older than that. I was mature now. I was ready to encounter a new time in my life.

Twenty minutes later I found myself standing by the grill, making one of the most wonderful dishes ever.

I was so inspired that day. I felt something big was going to happen. Maybe it was tomorrow or in twenty years. That day it did not matter.

All I could think about was what I had experienced. I felt the taste of it in my mouth. It was a taste of love.

 

The recipe; lightly juniper smoked and sage-grilled lightly cured cod ceviche

For the sauce you need

4 Tomatoes

2 finely chopped onions

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

juice of 2 lime 1 tangerine

5 tablespoons of fish sauce

1 whole green chili, finely chopped

1 tablespoon honey

10 leaves of mint

1. Cut the tomatoes into cubes

2. Mix everything in a bowl properly

 

1 big cod – aprox four lbs

Five juniper branches soaked in water

40 leaves of sage, wet

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of sugar

5 slices of lemon

1 tablespoon of black pepper

Charcoal grill

1. Light the charcoal grill

2. Open the cod. Put pepper, salt, lemon, 10 of the sage leaves and the sugar inside the cod. Leave it the fridge for one hour.

3. When the grill is hot, put the whole cod on the grill.

4. Put the juniper branches  and the sage on the charcoal, then put a lid on the grill. Now the smoke will make the cod get a wonderful light taste of sage and juniper.Turn the cod after 5 minutes. After 4 more minutes, remove it.

5. When it is done, cut pieces from it and mix with the tomato salsa.

6.The combination of the salt, sugar, lemon and black pepper together with the tomato mix will make this one of the best food experiences you’ve had in a while. When eating, think of the story and you will realize that the way I nurture the close relation between food and feelings makes perfect sense.

 

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