Surströmming – Scandinavian rotten fish

Surströmming (“soured herring”) is a traditional dish of the northern Sweden. It is made of fermented Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras). According to some experts the dish was invented by Swedish sailors in the 16th century. Since June of 2005 it even has its own museum in the fishing village of Skeppsmalen. The village is located in Höga kusten or the High Coast which is the coastal region along the Golf of Bothnia.

Surströmming
Surströmming

The dish became kind of notorious because of its very strong smell. During fermentation Haloanaerobium bacteria creates several substances of rather bad odour. So, as an act of precaution, it is usually eaten outdoors. It is also known as the Scandinavian rotten fish. It is sold in cans. Before canning herrings are fermented in barrels for a month or two. The best herrings are those caught in spring.

Surströmming is traditionally eaten with a crisp bread called “tunnbröd” (in Swedish “thin bread”). People in the High Coast enjoy "surströmmingsklämma". This sandwich includes already mentioned crisp bread, pieces of fermented herring, butter and potatoes. Some beer is served with the sandwich.