Before I started dating Jim, (who is Swedish,) my knowledge of Swedish food all came from what IKEA has in their store restaurant: Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, gravy, and lingonberry sauce. I also know the term “fika” in which the general meaning is having tea or coffee and pastry with a friend or colleague (read a more detailed description on Urban Dictionary), but that was about it. Eventually, I got to learn more about Swedish food when Jim and I got together, and one of the first things he introduced me was “kaviar.”
At the time, I didn’t know I was about to be trapped for life with this Swedish delight.
Before we continue, I promise you this is NOT an advertisement post for IKEA nor KALLES kaviar. I wrote it because I love kaviar from the bottom of my heart, and I want to share with everyone!
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When I visited Jim in Aachen, Germany this past March, he took me to the IKEA branch in Eindhoven, Netherlands to pick up my very first KALLES kaviar tube. Before I tried it, he warned me kaviar is an acquired taste: You will either love it or hate it. I took a bit from the tube on my finger and licked it, then it instantly reminded me this delicious Japanese cooking ingredient “mentaiko” (明太子), which is the marinated roe of pollock and cod, and it’s very common to see in Japanese or Korean cuisine.
Kaviar share the same kind of saltiness and fishiness. Well, ultimately they are the same thing but just come from different types of fish. When I was still a student in the states, I used to bought those from Japanese supermarkets and mixed them with rice! You could also see it in a creamy sauce form served with pasta.
It’s also a given in the name – Kaviar is similar to its famous, high-class cousin, Caviar, which I have never had. Traditionally speaking, the expensive Caviar we know only refers to the roe from wild sturgeon in the Caspian and the Black Sea. On the other hand, the KALLES Kaviar Original is smörgåskaviar, a creamed marinated smoked cod roe made with sugar, salt and tomato paste. Maybe I’ll think differently once I try Caviar, but for now, kaviar is a much cheaper choice, and it’s something one could afford to enjoy every single day.
Yes, I have kaviar every single day when I can get a hold of it. I put it on rice crackers or toast for snack or breakfast, and I look for it wherever I go. Before I moved to Shanghai, I even googled to check where I can buy it. You may ask “Why don’t you just go to an IKEA? Any IKEA in the world should have it.” Well, unfortunately, no, not every IKEA in the world has it. The IKEA in Taipei doesn’t have it. However, the IKEA branch near Shanghai Stadium Metro has it for ¥19.90, and that makes a happy Joanne.
These videos would give you an idea of what Jim means “you either hate it, or you love it.”:
What surprises me is the Japanese people in the video didn’t like Kaviar. It’s the same thing as mentaiko, and they eat it all the time! In my opinion, seeing the entire fish roe with mentaiko is visually less appealing than kaviar paste in a tube.
You could find kaviar in Denmark, too. When we were in Copenhagen, I demanded Jim to retrieve a tube because I was craving for it after eating Greek food for a week in Rhodes. I assume that although ABBA Seafood (no, it’s not the same as the famous Swedish group that sings Mama Mia!) in Sweden originally manufactured KALLES, you could find similar products in other northern European countries as well.
For elementary kaviar eater
Now, here is how I take my kaviar for breakfast. Of course, I stole this speciality from Jim:
A hard-boiled egg, a tube of kaviar, butter, and a piece of toast.
Spread some butter (lightly salted or unsalted) on a slice of toast. I bought my wooden butter spread knife in Sweden. Best purchase ever!
Press out your favourite kaviar from of the tube on the buttered toast. As you can see, I can always work on my squeezing skill … (And yes, Jim laughs at me every time when I do this.)
Place the sliced egg on top of the kaviar, and voilà! You made yourself a delicious kaviar egg sandwich!
It’s simple, filling, and tasty. When I visited Sweden for the first time, Jim’s friends asked me what my favourite Swedish food was, and I said “KAVIAR!” without thinking. But like Jim said, it’s an acquired taste. Apparently, some of his friends aren’t a fan of it and immediately made a disgusted face, haha. Obviously not even every Swedish likes it.
Yes, I know kaviar is more as an ingredient, so I will continue to explore more ways to eat kaviar. If you are in a Scandinavian country or about to visit one, make sure you get a tube to try! Or else, check your local IKEA store. They might have it!
I also haven’t tried other flavours or other brands, but If you have, tell me your thoughts on this salty goodness!
Have you tried Kaviar? What do you think about this salty delight? Share your thoughts with us!
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Also published on Medium.