Vendace (muikku in Finnish) or also known as the European cisco, is a freshwater whitefish that is found in Northern European lakes, such as in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Latvia and some lakes in Norway. It is a small fish, almost sardine-like that is commonly fried or smoked when eaten. The roe of Vendace is a real delicacy in Finland as is often eaten during Christmas time.
The lakes by our summer house are known for the muikku- fish and you can see locals pulling up fish nets from their boats right from our pier. To make this dish, you can also use other smoked fish such as salmon or sardines or whatever you have in the region you live. You can buy pre-smoked fish or smoke it yourself if you have the facilities for doing so. We have a smoker at the country house, so my father smoked the Vendace with juniper branches for some additional flavor. Cooked vendace is delicate and flakey, mild but delicious.
Meanwhile to make the salad, begin by marinating some red onion. Finely chop some onion slices and place into a bowl that fills with lemon juice. Leave them to soak in there for a good hour at least.
For the base of the salad, slice about 5 oranges and spread them on a plate. Add some capers, spring onion and finely chopped dill on top. Then add your smoked fish on top by flaking it into smaller pieces. Add lots of black pepper and lastly, add some of the marinated red onions on top. Also pour some of the lemon juice the onion has soaked in that has turned a vibrant pink color. Add a gently drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of maldon salt.
To accompany the salad, I had a smoked salmon mousse bread for some additional carbohydrates. Basically, toast some sourdough bread, add some salmon mousse on top, fresh peas, some of the marinated red onion, black pepper and dill.
Find the salmon mousse recipe from here.
I love the consistency and flavors of this salad. The juicy oranges give a lot of moisture and sweetness that balances out the capers and red onion. The delicate white fish adds a new dimension of smokiness to the dish, making it a lovely refreshing summer salad. Meanwhile, the creamy salmon mouse toast adds an extra comfort that easily works well in so many other occasions. You can serve the mousse as an appetizer on canapes at a party or in form of a tartar on top of avocado for example.
dad preparing the fish for the smoker