Thursday, January 12, 2006
Estonian nibbles: cod liver canapés
Photo updated in December 2008
Cod liver - tursamaks - comes in cans, and it's not very widely available or known these days. It was even less available during the Soviet era, when it was considered a real delicacy. Luckily, my grandmother knew somebody who knew somebody (essential for culinary survival back then) and somehow she managed to get a can or two every now and then. I love it.
You don't really do much with it. You drain it, mash it with a fork, mix with some chopped onion and pickled cucumber and boiled egg, season with salt and pepper, and moisten with some of the drained oil. You get a very slightly fishy, mushy and creamy concoction that is great for stuffing boiled eggs (in which case you only add chopped egg yolk to the 'salad') or for spreading on toasted bread. That's exactly how cod liver found its way to my family's Christmas dinner this year, as one of the starters, when we were eagerly waiting for the boozy sauerkraut, roasted pork and black pudding to crispen. It also did so last year (click on the Estonian-language link below for a picture from 2004). It is definitely not a typical dish on Estonian Christmas table, but it seems to have its firm place on my family's table, alongside with salmon roe canapés (left) that my parents love but I heartily dislike. Too fishy for my delicate palate:)