Kräftstjärtar smörgås (crayfish sandwich) is one of the best Swedish food you have to try. You can make this in 5 minutes and finish it in 3 minutes. Yum!
On a warm quiet evening, I went into the kitchen to get some water. And there she was, Grandma Glasses digging into the pantry shelves like a treasure hunter.
She turned around to me and said, “I have to be quick Drake. I need to prepare the ingredients. The Swedish Chef is cooking tonight.”
“But this is not the first time he will be cooking dinner,” I muttered while I take a sip of my cold water.
“But tonight it’s going to be different. You will see him do the Swedish Hambo-Polka steps,” said Grandma Glasses in a voice that sounded like a burble.
“The what?” I turned to her as she speak. Most of the time I hear the Swedish Chef speak and he sounds as Swedish as a Swedish should be. But everytime Grandma Glasses says it herself it confuses me.
“The hambo is a traditional dance that originated in Sweden in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has three-count step, with one step movement on each beat of the measure, danced smoothly and easily, not tense but floating with the music,” explained Grandma Glasses.
“The steps should be smooth and relaxed, never jerky.” as she flipped her feet to do a turn.
“It requires coordination and control to become a graceful Hambo dancer,” I sneered in silence as I watch her. As if she heard my thoughts, she stopped.
She turned to me and said, “Oh yes he can dance! Pirouetting back and forth, he moves with grace. And with extreme precision, he makes a hambo turn so graceful even Gene Kelly would approve. The best timing I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
“From what you just did, that fancy footwork in the kitchen is The Stove Top Hambo.” I said loudly with a sniff.
“Oh Drake don’t be silly. You’ll see what I mean.. Here he comes now. Out of his way, and stay in the corner.”
“Today it is Stir Fried Chicken Liver in Bacon and Mushroom Sauce I will cook,” said the Swedish Chef .
“We need 300g chicken liver,strips of veal bacon,1/2 cup of chopped mushroom,1/2 cup of diced onions, fried potatoes, 4 tbsp of butter, 1 tsp of dark soy sauce, 1/4 cup of cooking cream, salt, pepper and sprinkle of dried oregano.”
Grandma Glasses and I listened carefully while he gives cooking instructions.
“First I marinate chicken liver in soy sauce, salt, roasted garlic and herb seasoning and set aside.”
Then suddenly he did a hambo turn as he puts a pan on the stove. Grandma Glasses looked at me and smiled.
“Heat the pan, and when it is warm enough put the butter to melt until bubbly.”
Another hambo turn as reaches for the other ingredients. I am surprised to see him move without bumping into anything, so perfectly in such a small space for a big guy like the Swedish Chef.
“Saute onions, bacon and mushroom and let it cook for 3 minutes.”
I was quick to notice another hambo turn as he takes the next ingredient.
“Add the chicken liver and soy sauce. Sprinkle dried oregano and continue cooking in medium heat for 3 minutes.”
He looked at us to check if we are listening. He did another hambo turn to reach for the cream.
“Pour cream and let simmer for 2 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.”
Another hambo turn and he has salt and pepper in his hand.
“Oh I know good food when I smell one,” I whispered to Grandma Glasses.
“Quiet now Drake, this is the best part,” Grandma Glasses whispered back.
We stood still, only our eyes following the Swedish Chef as he makes his finale. This is like watching a movie on the big screen with the popcorn box almost empty.
“Aha! Time to remove from heat and serve with fried potatoes or rice.”
The Swedish Chef said it in a loud voice I almost jumped. He takes a plate and scooped a big serving on it. And for his finale, he did a last hambo turn as he exits the kitchen and walked to the dining table with the plate.
Grandma Glasses smiled at me and gave me a pat on the head.
“Yes Drake, that is what we call The Stove Top Hambo.” I wagged my tail to agree as she walked away to follow the Swedish Chef.
Today I went to the local market to buy fresh pork kidney. Let’s make this clear. I am on a diet. But no matter how I stick with my rules, the temptation of tasting good food still rules.
I was told by the Swedish Chef, this is one of his favorite offal recipes. You can also use other variety meats (beef,veal,lamb,pork,ox). Today I am tasked to execute and deliver the same quality of cooking to the table in twenty minutes. So with a sharp knife, a bowl and kitchen scissors I went through the preparation very carefully. No this is not for an episode of a MasterChef cooking show. It’s for tonight’s dinner and I only have twenty minutes to plate and serve Pork Kidney and Bacon in Cream Sauce
“Clean kidney” was the first instruction I was told. I used two pieces pork kidney, approximately 300 gms. It may sound simple, but requires accuracy and skill with the kitchen tools. It’s like doodling with a pen, but this time I used a knife. I peeled the white membrane on the outside, sliced and removed the white membrane inside. I gently poked using kitchen scissors to make sure every white tendon is cut and cleaned. Then I soaked the slices in salted water for thirty minutes, changed water and soaked again until water became clear. Next step is soaking the kidney slices in milk for two to three hours. The Swedish Chef said this will remove the remaining residue and kidney scent. I wondered how much patience is required of me with this recipe?
After three hours, I took the kidney out of the fridge. The slices looked pampered soaking in milk. “Wash and drain again before slicing them into smaller pieces,” said the Swedish Chef. ” But not too small or they become gummy, not unless you will cook them in lesser time.”
I stopped chopping the meat and stared in mid air trying to calculate in my mind how cooking smaller pieces of meat makes them gummy and not tender. Now that is quite opposite with the method of cooking I am used to. But as good as a sous chef should be, I followed his advice.
“Score in crisscross pattern the smooth side of kidney slices and dice into smaller 1 inch pieces,” he called out his instructions from his side of the kitchen. Finally after the crisscrossing and slicing I have about 1 cup of prepared fresh kidney.
“Set aside kidney and let us prepare other ingredients. ” the Swedish Chef calling out the ingredients like we are checking a military roster.
“2 tbsp butter?” he asked.
“1 medium onion, finely chopped?” he checked.
“1/2 cup chopped bacon?” he bellowed.
“Salt and pepper to taste, half teaspoon of tarragon leaves, and half cup of cooking cream?” he echoed as I handed the last ingredients.
“Yes Chef!” I answered. Sheepishly I looked at the clock as I set my mind into my twenty minute task. “And my time starts..now.”
“Heat skillet and melt butter. Saute onion and bacon for 3-5 min. Add the kidney and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour cream and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Sprinkle tarragon leaves. Simmer over low heat for last 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent curdling or overcooking. Turn off heat and plate. Do not overcook.Serve with rice, fried potatoes or toast.”
I thought I heard myself giving a twenty-minute monologue to the stove. After the cooking, the Swedish Chef suggested, “Next time we cook sweetbread.”
“Trust the kitchen expert. He knows what he is talking about,” I said to myself.
And then a funny thought just hit me. “I wonder if free range herbivore dinosaur was also a good variety meat for the cavemen.” Yep, Grandma Glasses and her bizarre ideas strikes again.