Never has rotten fish smelled so bad but tasted so good.
Small Baltic herring are caught in the spring, salted and left to ferment at leisure before being stuffed in a tin about a month before it hits the tables and shops. The fermentation process continues in the tin; ‘souring’ as the Swedes refer to it, and results in a bulging tin of fermented herring or surströmming. The aroma is pungent, and the taste is rounded yet piquant with a distinct acidity.
The end of August is popular, and there is a special surströmming festival in Alfta, Hälsingland in the north of Sweden. But surströmming enthusiasts prefer to savour the previous year’s vintage for tenderness and a fully mature flavour.
Outdoors is best. Always.
Traditionalist Swedes, food lovers and adventurous tourists.
How to do it like a local:
As the tin is pressurised, open the surströmming in a basin of water. Wash it, gut it, and wrap it in buttered tunnbröd, a type of sweetened flat bread, with slices of almond potatoes and diced onion. Accompany with beer, schnapps and lots of friends.