Prawns on Toast
Above: Toast Skagen garnished with Kalix löjrom
Toast Skagen (prawns/shrimps on toast) is an absolute classic and has come to symbolise elegance in Swedish food. It was created by a popular Swedish restaurateur, Tore Wretman, just after the second world war and named after a fishing port in Denmark.
The prawn (shrimp) mixture is called Skagenröra (Skagen mix). Essentially the prawns are mixed with mayonnaise, gräddfil (a bit like soured cream) and some seasoning. The choice of seasoning varies somewhat with tabasco, grated horseradish or brandy being the most common.
Toast Skagen is popular in restaurants all over Sweden. Often they advertise that they are using handskalade räkor (hand shelled prawns). It is a big selling point because all Swedes are convinced that it really doesn’t matter whether the prawns are fresh or frozen, but they must be shelled by hand. Sadly, unscrupulous restaurateurs often use prawns that have been shelled using cheap labour in Poland and transported to Sweden in brine, wiping out the benefits!
Shelling prawns is frankly quite tedious, so when I am shelling I have to keep reminding myself that the flavour will be much better. It is true, so do try and find the time to shell the prawns yourself! John Duxbury
• Traditionally Skagenröra is served with a big dollop of roe. As it is an acquired taste, not always appreciated by Brits, the amount of caviar (roe) suggested below is about half the quantity that Swedes would tend to use.
• For a real treat for caviar (roe) lovers, serve the prawns (shrimps) with Kalix löjrom (caviar from Kalix) which is available in the UK from specialist shops and online.
• Instead of brandy you could use a few drops of tabasco or ½ tablespoon of freshly grated horseradish.
• Of course the bread can be toasted, instead of fried, if you prefer!
• Skagenröra also makes a nice drinktilltugg (cocktail snack) when served on small pieces of dark rye bread or toast.
• For a nice light lunch, serve a double portion or use the Skagenröra as a topping for a jacket potato.
|450 g||(1 lb)||fresh or frozen prawns (shrimps) with shells on|
|60 ml||(4 tbsp)||mayonnaise|
|60 ml||(4 tbsp)||gräddfil or soured cream|
|½ tsp||brandy or cognac|
|pinch||salt and freshly ground white pepper|
|2 tbsp||finely chopped dill|
|4||slices of white bread, preferably sourdough|
|25 g||(2 tbsp)||butter|
|40 g||(4 tsp)||caviar (roe), optional
|4||dill sprigs, for garnish|
1. Shell the prawns and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Keep them cold until required.
2. Mix the mayonnaise, gräddfil or soured cream, brandy (or freshly grated horseradish as shown above), chopped dill, salt and freshly ground white pepper. Keep the mixture cold until required.
3. Ten minutes or so before serving, melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the bread slices and fry until golden brown on both sides.
4. Just before serving, add some of the sauce to the prawns (shrimps) until you have a nice consistency (you might not need it all).
(This is a double portion served as a light lunch.)
5. Serve the prawn (shrimp) mixture piled on top of the fried bread and garnish with a dollop of caviar (roe), a sprig of dill and a lemon wedge.
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