Throughout the month of December, I take a break from the usual “ business ” side and bring features inspired by the travels of great chefs around the world to feed your travel urge, which may even inspire your menu. Christmas dinner.
Chef Erik Videgard is a friend I always visit in Sweden
We discuss food, drink and what we should drink and eat the next time we meet – it never ends and I love it.
Record producer and now celebrity chef, I chatted with the busy chef about Swedish traditions with a bit of Asian inspired ingredients and dishes, of course!
Favorite Christmas culinary tradition?
The Swedish “Julbord” (Christmas table) is historically an extended traditional Smorgasbord with some extensions. There are a lot of different herrings and Baltic herring pickled in a lot of different ways, sometimes up to 20 different ways. There is ham with mustard, small “prince sausages”, egg halves with Vendace eggs, Swedish meatballs, “Jansons temptation” (a stew of matched potatoes, heavy cream and anchovies) . In a restaurant, a traditional Christmas table will consist of up to 120 different dishes to eat in five to six “turns” starting with herrings and ending with a huge dessert table.
My favorite is the ham, slowly baked in the oven and coated with a mixture of mustards, egg, breadcrumbs then put back in the oven at high temperature. I do this the night before Christmas Eve (which is the day we celebrate Christmas). Slices of warm ham on crunchy Swedish bread buttered my own mustard (colemans, whiskey and brown sugar) with a glass of aquavit and a beer. The sleeping family and myself in the quiet kitchen… Bliss!
And for dessert?
We had a really big family reunion when I was a kid. With my grandmothers with my mother, my father, my moms four brothers and various wives, girlfriends and children. The breakfast was rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar and milk. In the big bowl of porridge, you put an almond and the person who receives that almond has to make a wish. All the leftover porridge was mixed with whipped cream and a segment of tangerine, served as a dessert on the Christmas table. Nowadays my favorite would be the “Klenäter”, slices of fried dough, cut and twisted, served with cloudberry “mylta”, frozen and thawed, and whipped cream.
On your family table?
Probably a Chinese side of pork with sautéed green onions and a sweet, aromatic soy sauce.
And in your restaurant?
I make different Christmas tables depending on the restaurants. Traditional Swedish, Asian ranging from sushi to tteobokki, fish and shellfish with lobster, oysters and some traditional dishes with a twist. Also a lot of vegetarian and vegan alternatives this year.
Ring the new year?
We are quite French at New Years. Lobster, oysters and lots of champagne!