Book: Faviken, by Magnus Nilsson
By Magnus Nilsson
Magnus Nilsson is part of a new generation of Scandinavian chefs who are attracting attention not just for their food (which I have yet to taste) but also because of an obsessive focus on local ingredients. This isn't the easiest thing to do in those parts of the world where the climate is temperate year-round, giving a steady supply of fruit and vegetables; but it's even harder in a remote area of northern Sweden, where the ground is frozen solid for a good part of each year. Because he needs ingredients to last through the winter, Nilsson preserves all the spring, summer and autumn bounty he can - by dehydrating, pickling, fermenting, smoking and salting.
At his 12-seat restaurant, Faviken, Nilsson serves dishes made of ingredients he has foraged, hunted, butchered and caught. Obviously, it's not going to be food that we can reproduce easily in Hong Kong, because wherever we are able to find grouse, rowan berries, rakfish (fermented trout), lichen and wild peas, they will have been imported, losing much of their taste on the long journey.
But while Faviken may not be a cookbook you will use, it's still fascinating (in the same way Rene Redzepi's book Noma is; indeed, the two chefs are often spoken of in the same breath due to their similar culinary philosophies). Few of the recipes have more than a dozen ingredients, although you will need things such as salted bittercap mushrooms, fermented legume paste, vinegar matured in the burnt-out trunk of a spruce tree (something you might consider doing with your Christmas tree, rather than discarding it) and broth made from last year's autumn leaves.
Recipes include rib-eye of beef, dry-aged for 20 weeks, with sour onions, turnip thinnings and green juice; grouse with paste of innards, gypsy mushrooms and rowan berries; wild trout roe in a warm crust of dried pig's blood; and vattlingon (fermented lingonberries) with thick cream, sugar and wild raspberry ice.