Swedish food at London's Borough Market
London's Borough Market is one of the best places in London to shop for ingredients for Swedish meals. At Borough Market you will find fresh ingredients for Swedish meals which are hard to find in most supermarkets. For instance, it is the place where you can find:
• wild mushrooms,
• wild venison,
• good quality fish on the bone,
• salmon for curing,
• fresh horseradish,
• smoked eel.
Read our recommendations below to find the best stalls to buy your ingredients for a wonderful Swedish meal.
Location and opening times
The market is located on the South Bank, near London Bridge tube station and in the shadow of Southwark Cathedral. It is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 5pm (6pm on Fridays). It is at its busiest on Saturdays when it gets very crowded, especially around lunchtime.
There has been a market on the site since at least 1014 and probably earlier. The present buildings with the lovely green arches were designed in 1851 and an art deco entrance was added in 1932.
Above: Anna Bonde-Mosesson's poster to promote her stall on Borough Market
There has been a flourishing wholesale market since Victorian times. Henrietta Green who works at ‘Foodlovers of Great Britain’ ran an apple festival there in the autumn of 1998. Lots of small stalls were set up and the weekend was a huge success, so much so that they (the charity which is run by 16 trustees who live in the area) decided to have a food market open to the public every third Saturday of the month.
There were only 6 or 7 regular stall holders which sold meat, fish and vegetables. Soon eager small producers got wind of this little market and it grew steadily. Anna Bonde-Mosesson, who writes for SwedishFood.com was one of the original stall holders.
Anna explains, "I was one of the ‘early birds’. I called my stall ‘Scandelicious’ after the little café I ran in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. I would traipse up to London every third Saturday religiously selling my home made Swedish goodies which had been prepared in the restaurant, such as, Gravlax, meatballs, pickled herrings and Skagenröra, the funniest delicious goodie I sold was ‘Old man’s Mix’ which was a sort of anchovy paté which was a direct translation from the Swedish Gubbröra, needless to say, it was a big seller."
"Borough was where I met Jamie Oliver when he was buying food for his first TV series ‘The Naked Chef’. We became good friends and when he made the programme ‘Jamie does Stockholm’ we spent some time picking wild mushrooms on an island in the Stockholm archipelago and we ate some crayfish that I had cooked, in all, a thoroughly good day with lots of snaps, song and laughter!"
Furness Fish and Game
Furness Fish and Game have one of the biggest stalls in the market. Joven, a jovial chappy, who works on the stall explains, "We've been on the Market for over twenty years. Our fish mainly comes from day boats off the Cornish coast but we also get wild Scottish salmon and halibut. Wild sea bass is probably our top seller although our mackerel is my own favourite."
Furness is a good place to buy salmon for curing, smoked eel and all manner of shell fish, including live lobsters and crayfish. If you are rich enough, they also one of the few places in London selling wild Scottish salmon!
Furness probably have the biggest selection of game on the market. The game, including pheasant, partridge, rabbit, hare and venison, is sourced mainly from Cumbrian estates such as Graythwaite Hall and Levens Hall.
Turnips is another long established trader and the largest greengrocer at Borough Market. They stock unusual fruit and vegetables that can be difficult to obtain elsewhere. They always stock fresh horseradish and a wide range of wild mushrooms. Emily, Turnips's mushroom expert, says that girolles (called kantareller in Swedish) are their biggest seller, although her personal favourite is pink oyster mushrooms.
The range at Turnips is very good but it is worth checking the prices on other stalls because they can be expensive.
Paul, who runs Sussex Fish, fishes off the Sussex coast and only uses day boats. Although he only has a small stall the quality of his fish is very good. He usually has cod steaks on the bone, something that most supermarkets don't normally stock, which are ideal if you want to try our recipe for cod with horseradish and brown butter, one of our best fish recipes.
Paul's own favourite is whole plaice, which is mine too. (See our recipe for plaice fried in a coating of rye flour.) Plaice is normally available all the year round, although it is best avoided in the early summer when plaice can be watery and tasteless. Ask Paul for advice if in doubt.
Paul normally has a good selection of wild bass. Bass is a very adaptable fish, but avoid using overpowering flavours with it. It is a good fish to steam or perhaps the best way of cooking it is stuff the cavity with dill or fennel and then to bury it in coarse sea salt, like a protective blanket. In the summer Paul often has turbot, which is one of the finest fish in the sea and the fish which appears most often on the menu for the Nobel Banquets in Stockholm. Finally, for another treat look out for lobsters on Paul's stall. He often has nice sized lobsters at about £15 each and sometimes monsters at £50. Personally I prefer the smaller lobsters which tend to be a little bit sweeter.
Look out for Fitz's stall. Fitz is an experience forager and has had a stall on the market for about ten years. He usually has a good selection of mushrooms for sale (only on Saturdays during hot weather). Fitz often has fresh truffles and sometimes he has Swedish mushrooms for sale. Fitz explains, "Some of my best mushrooms come from Sweden. They are clean, fresh and carefully packed."
On one visit I found Fitz had three types of wild mushrooms from Sweden, all in tip-top condition, as shown above. From left to right: chanterelles, orange birch boletes and cortinarius caperatus (sometimes called Rozites caperata or gypsy mushroom).
Chanterelles are very versatile and go with most dishes. Young boletes are very tasty, although they have a tendency to go quite dark when cooked. Rozites are more mild and so go well with chanterelles and boletes, especially for mushrooms on toast.
Fitz makes most of his own mustards and speciality vinegars. His raspberry vinegar and his horseradish vinegar are especially recommended but you can try them all before you buy.
Demonstration of how to cook Swedish food
In October 2013 Borough Market invited SwedishFood.com to demonstrate how to cook Swedish food. We sent Anna Bonde-Mosesson back to run the demonstration for us as she is is a natural entertainer as well as a good cook. She likes to sing whilst she cooking and so kept the small, but enthusiastic, crowd entertained with songs in English, Swedish and Russian. No, I've no idea why she ended up singing in Russian at one point! During the songs Anna cooked:
• Marinated fillet of venison with liquorice sauce (using liquorice from Sweet Roots)
• Chanterelle pesto (using mushrooms from Fitz Fine Foods)
• Lime marinated wild salmon with wood sorrel (using salmon from Furness Fish)
• Traditional Swedish pheasant burgers (using pheasant from Furness Game)
• Plum compote with cardamom and sour cream (using plums from Elsey and Bent)
Other cookery demonstrations at Borough Market normally take place around lunchtime on Thursdays or Fridays and are warmly recommended.
Whether you lunch on free samples or treat yourself to one of the many take-away stalls you will find some of London's best street food at Borough Market although finding anywhere to sit down at lunchtime is always challenging.
Borough Market has come along way since the days when it only opened to the public every third Saturday in the month. It is now a major tourist attraction and the place to buy fresh ingredients for a fantastic Swedish meal. Shop there soon.
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