Finnish cuisine is a combination of traditional country fare and contemporary continental cooking, filled with Nordic and arctic flavours. Built around fresh, natural ingredients from fish and meat to mushrooms and berries and even reindeer. Just like in the Baltic dishes, seasonal food and everything local plays a big role in everyday cooking. If you’d like to know what are some of the traditional Finnish dishes and where to taste this local food, keep reading!
Salmon Soup: A popular soup that you can find in many restaurants. It can be made with either clear or creamy white broth filled with salmon, onions and potatoes and garnished with dill. Of course the soup is best accompanied with a slice of rye bread. A true comfort food that will warm you up on a cold winter’s day. Try the soup at the Old Market Hall in Helsinki.
Sautéed reindeer – You can find a lot of reindeer up in Lapland and for that reason this dish is especially popular there. It’s believed that their meat is very healthy and is high in B-12, omega-3 and omega-6. Most commonly the meat is sautéed and served with a side of mashed potatoes and lingonberries. A good place to try the reindeer meat is Nili Restaurant in Rovaniemi or Lappi Restaurant in Helsinki, where you can try either sauteed, grilled or roasted versions.
Leipajuusto (squeaky cheese): Known as squeaky cheese, this mild and tasty cheese is traditionally made from cow’s milk. In Finnish, the name means cheese bread and it’s called that because it’s baked like bread. During the baking the heat of the oven colours the exterior of the cheese black and white and when you bite into it, it makes a squeaky sound. The cheese is particularly popular in the northern parts of Finland and is best enjoyed with some cloudberry jam spread on top
Korvapuusti (cinnamon buns): Essentially cinnamon buns, the Finnish version translates to “slapped ears” in English. Although you can find cinnamon buns all around the world, this pastry is especially popular in Finland and as Finns consume a lot of coffee it’s said that they also eat more cinnamon buns than any other European nation. You can easily find this local treat in the bakery section in any supermarket, cafes and markets.
Karjalanpiirakka (rice pies): This extremely popular pastry is originally from the region of Karelia, in the eastern part of Finland. The rye crust pastry is usually filled with thick rice pudding and topped with a spread made out of chopped hard-boiled eggs and butter. Mashed potato and rice-and-carrot fillings are also popular and commonly available. Perfect for breakfast or as a snack. You can easily find this local treat in the bakery section in any supermarket.
Rye bread: Voted the national food in 2017, rye bread is a true staple of the Finnish diet. The most popular and widely available variety is reikäleipa, meaning “bread with a hole” and is usually eaten for breakfast, as a side at lunch or as a snack. The crispy flatbread version is called näkkileipä, a quick snack that is often paired with creamy spreads and various toppings.
Salmiakki (Salty liquorice) – Extremely popular black candy, flavoured with ammonium chloride to give it a strong, salty taste. The salty liquorice can be eaten alone as a candy but quite often it’s used to flavor other things like ice cream, alcoholic beverages, and even meat. The candy is liked by both adults and kids and almost every candy bag you can buy, includes some sort of liquorice in it. The candy can be bought in every supermarket, store and kiosk