Kalakukko – Fish rooster

When our family gets together, it always happens around the table. Usually, the table is filled with some of the traditional delicacies my grandmother (pictured) masters. This time we were treated to the best-known local delicacy of Kuopio, Savo, where my family originally comes from.

Traditionally, Kalakukko (Fish Rooster, rooster deriving from the old word kukkaro which means purse) is made of one sort of fish: vendance, lax or perch, layered on rye dough base with pork. The rye dough is then used to cover the stuffing, and the purse is put into the oven overnight. Kalakukko can be enjoyed warm or cold, and the crust also tastes good with butter.

The rest of the family enjoyed their kalakukko the traditional way, but mine was made without meat – in stead, it had rutabaga and carrots in the filling. I prefer my kalakukko this way, without the lard and with some freshness! The kalakukko was so good I could have eaten it all at once!

Usually people buy their Kalakukko from the central market square in Kuopio, or from some of the country markets that are around Finland. This dish is a bit expensive, the price per kilo is easily from 15 to 30 euros, probably because it is hand-made. When making the Kalakukko yourself, it takes a lot of patience and caution, since you have to make sure that the crust doesn’t leak the stuffing. Baking the Kalakukko in the right temperature for the right time takes skills that you learn by time. I would not dare to make Kalakukko myself, but I have had few rather successful attempts together with my mother.

People from Savo region in Eastern Finland have a funny dialect and a quirky sense of humor. I am proud of my Savonian roots even though I have lived my whole life in the Western Häme region, and my dialect is far from my grandparents’. It is fun to visit Kuopio, and hear how people talk totally different from what I hear in my daily live. It is also interesting to hear my mother talk on the phone to her sisters or parents – she somehow subconsciously always changes the way she speaks when speaking to someone in Kuopio.

Spring is coming, happy Easter!

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