Västerbottenostpaj with Skagenröra
A traditional Swedish cheese pie with prawns
Swedes eat something called Västerbottenostpaj. It’s a cheese pie made with a Swedish cheese called Västerbottenost. It’s kind of a quiche, for a lack of a better word. The pie is often found on Swedish smorgasbords, and eaten with cured salmon or crawfish and what not. Speaking of crawfish, Swedes have something called “kräftskiva” which literally means crawfish plate, and is a crawfish party where men and women sit with funny hats eating tons of crawfish. What’s a popular side dish to the crawfish? Västerbottenostpaj, that’s what! Another popular food in Sweden is Skagenröra. It’s a mix of fish shrimps, mayo, fish eggs and dill. Goes great with the pie.
- 200 g of refrigerated butter
- 200 g of wheat flour
- 1-2 tablespoons of cold water
- Pinch of salt and some black pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- 2 dl of full cream
- 2 dl of milk
- 400 grams of grated Västerbottenost or cheese of your choice (it should be a nutty one, like a parmigiano or a good pecorino)
- Mix the butter with the flour and a pinch of salt, and just keep mixing it with your hands until you have an all crumbly sand kind of texture. Like when you’re making scones, if you ever make those!
- Add a tiny amount of water, one tablespoon at a time. And make a ball of it.
- If you worked quickly, the butter in the ball hasn’t started to melt, so you’ll be able to work with it. Cover a pie tray, both bottom and sides, with a thin layer of dough. If your warm hands made the butter melt before you could do this step, put it in the refrigerator for half an hour or so to cool it first.
- Cover the dough clad tray with plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator while you make the rest.
- This is a good time to turn on the oven and heat it to 200 degrees Celsius.
- In a bowl, mix the eggs, cream, milk, finely ground black pepper and (if your cheese isn’t very salty already) a pinch of salt.
- If you haven’t done so yet, grate the cheese.
- Put the pie crust in the oven for 5-10 minutes to pre-cook it.
- Take out the pie crust, and put all of the cheese in it. Then cover it all with the egg and cream filling. Now back into the oven for 10-15 minutes (closer to 10, I like mine a little creamy and not too firm).
- Let it rest for about 30 minutes to cool down and firm up, and you have yourself a cheese pie!
If you’re not buying mayo for the next step, this is the time to make your own
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 teaspoons of french mustard (or any mustard really)
- 3 teaspoons of white vinegar
- 8-10 dl oil (use a neutral oil, don’t use olive oil. Beating olive oil may result in a very bitter taste)
- pinch of salt
- Separate the egg yolks, and put them in a bowl
- Add mustard, white vinegar and a pinch of salt and mix it all up
- Now, it’s time to beat some air into it. If you have a stand mixer, use it on medium high speed and slowly pour in the oil in a thin stream while mixing. If you do it by hand, have a friend help you pour or do it yourself in intervals. You’ll see how the mayo thickens. Just keep pouring and whipping.
- Done! Into the refrigerator for now.
The shrimp mix
There are as many recipes for Skagenröra as there are Swedes cooking it. Some recipes call for chopping the shrimps into tiny pieces. I’ll be using whole peeled northern sea shrimps (the small ones)
- 500 g of boiled north sea shrimps
- 2 dl mayonnaise (the one you made yourself, I guess? Or buy it)
- A whole bunch of dill
- juice from 1 lemon
- pinch of salt
- pinch of finely ground black pepper
- 1 red onion
- 2 tablespoons of fish eggs, the ones that look like caviar but are cheaper and usually red in color
Mixing the shrimps and stuff
- Finely chop the red onion
- Finely chop the dill
- Into a bowl, put the shrimps and all other ingredients and combine
- Yup, that’s the recipe.
- A piece of cheese pie
- Some of the shrimp mix
- Top it with some red onion, dill and fish eggs