Packaging a meal inside a crust has always been strong in the far northern regions of Europe, especially in Järvi-Suomi (lakeland Finland) where small freshwater fish like perch, roach and smelt were cooked inside a crust made of rye dough.
The people of Karelia and Savo developed this tradition, wrapping all kinds of fresh fish in thin sliced bacon, taking it with them when they migrated to other parts of Finland.
Whole fish – burbot, perch, roach, smelt and whitefish – are the traditional favourites. Modern versions tend to have filleted rainbow trout and salmon. Smoked salmon is popular.
600 g rainbow trout/salmon 300 g rye flour 300 g wholewheat flour 250 g back bacon 250 ml water 120 g coarse rye flour, for dusting and filling 50 g butter, melted Salt, large pinch Butter, for filling and glazing
Preheat oven to 250°C.
Mix flours and salt in a large bowl, add melted butter and water, form into a stiff dough. Add more water if necessary.
On a floured surface roll dough to a thickness of 1.5 cm at the centre, 1cm toward the edges.
Cut into four 20 cm diameter disks. Dust each disk with a liberal amount of coarse rye flour, about 30 g largely around the central area.
Cut any white fat from bacon, smooth the bacon with the flat side of a wide knife to stretch it.
Cut the fillets into narrow lengths.
Arrange the bacon slices on one side of each disk, leaving a 2 cm edge around the rim. Lightly butter the fish pieces, about 150 g per disk, lay on top of the bacon. Wash each edge with water.
Fold the dough over the filling, press the seams or roll them into a crimped shape.
Dust a baking tray with coarse rye flour, arrange the kalakukko on the flour, bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, allow to cool, glaze with butter.
Turn oven down to 125°C.
When the oven has cooled to 125°C, bake kalakukko for an hour.
Reduce oven heat to 90°C, bake for four hours.
Wrap kalakukko in kitchen towels. Eat hot or cold.