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:)

Tursamaksasalati retsept

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks a bit disgusting this one, I must say, although I do like fishy things...hm...

Laura said...

Hi! I think I found your blog through Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness - since I'm feeling too lazy to go find the post -- I just wanted to say that the Sauerkraut Soup you wrote about a few month ago has been made probably about three times in my house since... it's awesome. Thanks for sharing that.

...of course those fishy things don't look bad either. :)


~L

Zoubida said...

Hello Pille,
This is my idea of a good savory snack or appetizer. To me, the brown-greyish colour of a pâté always holds a promise of great flavours on a piece of good bread. And this one being fish is even more tempting, for an evening comforting nibble accompanied with chilly white wine.

chili&vanilia said...

Oh, I love this. I remember that in Hungary that cod liver was also a delicacy in my childhood, I haven't had it since ages..thanks Pille for bringing back that memory..

prof. evans said...

You are amazing. This is a fabulous site you have.

Zoubida said...

Hi again Pille,
I wanted to let you know I tagged you for a Meme. I hope you don't mind...

Pille said...

Anonymous - well, looks isn't everything:) I like this fish liver pate, although I don't crave it more than once or twice a year. Whereas I find shrimps in any form disgusting because of the way the look and am yet to brave myself to eat one. Yet I know that most people adore them. Maybe if I'd eat them blindfolded..

Laura - I'm glad you found your way here! The sauerkraut soup was delicious and good for cold winter nights. I'm gonna try it again in a few days, but this time taking into consideration the tips about using a potato instead of flour and when to add paprika.

Zoubida - that's exactly how this appetizer is to be enjoyed. Thanks for tagging me for the meme - I'll reply next week.

Zsofi - you're welcome. I guess quite a few of our childhood food memories are rather similar:)

Prof Evans - thanks for your kind words.

sha said...

Pille comfort food are very evocative.. it brings out the past full of memories,

Never had cod liver but I wouldnt mind trying at all....

kalo sabbatokiriaki file mou!

Pille said...

Dear Sha - if I find cod liver before coming to Greece in June, I'll bring you a can!

Anonymous said...

This the first time I have ever really read anything to support a friends comment "This is as good as Cod Liver Pie".
I always thought he made it up or was repeating it wrong. Obviously I was wrong and it is real.