The sprat population of the Baltic sea has remained stable despite successive catches of 300,000 tonnes in the late 2010s and fears of a collapse of the entire eco-system have been allayed for now.
An annual plan was put in place in 2016 to manage sprat numbers in conjunction with cod and herring. The Baltic cod fishery is under pressure and, as cod prey on their pelagic relatives, over fishing of the sprat population would be detrimental to the dwindling cod.
Sprats have become the dominant fish in the Baltic amidst continuing climate change which may yet impact the eco-system.
In the meantime the sprat is as popular as ever, an essential ingredient in the traditional dishes of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia.
- 800 g smoked sprats
- 12 eggs
- 300 g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 12 sprigs parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp dill, chopped
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Salt, large pinches
Whisk three of the eggs. Heat a large frying pan with a tablespoon of oil, add a quarter of the sprats, then the whisked eggs.
Cook until the eggs are done, garnish with dill and parsley, season with salt and pepper, serve with tomatoes.
Repeat the process with remaining ingredients, to serve a total of 4 people.
This is the meatball of Finland, a hint of mustard and paprika, deliciously succulent with a fried onion crust. Go here for the story of the history of the meatball.
- 500 g beef, minced
- 100 g onion, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 40 g white spelt flour / white wheat flour
- 30 g mustard
- 30 g sour cream
- 15 g bittersweet paprika
- Oil, for frying
Work the onions into the beef with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Add the mustard and sour cream, and using your hands knead the mixture until the fat starts to come off onto your fingers. Add the egg, followed by the paprika and seasonings.
Divide into 50 g balls, chill for 30 minutes.
Pour the flour onto a plate, roll the balls in the flour, shake off excess.
Brown gently in oil over a medium heat, about 15 minutes, until the pieces of onion darken and start to form a crust.
Finish in a sauce to keep them moist.
This enigmatic nut cake of Finland utilises oily nuts and gives a flavour that is unique in such cakes. Some versions call for less nuts and more flour. As this is a nut cake we favour a higher quantity of nuts to flour. The dry to wet ratio is generally 1:1. This is the chocolate version. For a frosting combine melted chocolate with warmed whipped cream at a 3:1 ratio. The frosting can also contain crushed mixed nuts.
- 200 g mixed nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts), ground
- 170 g sugar
- 170 g white wheat flour
- 150 g sour cream
- 100 g butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 50 g cocoa powder
- 30 g vanilla sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- Salt, pinch
Preheat oven to 180ºC.
Combine all the dry ingredients – baking powder, cinnamon, cocoa powder, flour, nuts and salt – and mix thoroughly, breaking up any lumps.
Whisk the eggs and sugars until light and thick, carefully fold in the dry mixture, the melted butter and the cream.
Pour into a lined cake tin.
Bake for 65 minutes. Test after 55 minutes.