Right now, many Finnish fish are in season, and it is the time to take advantage of it and give them a try, either using traditional Finnish flavours and methods or cooking them in a brand new way.
Spring is the golden age of the fishing season. After the ice has melted away, free-flowing water entices the fish to actively swim about. From March to May, you should go for perch, pike-perch, ruffe, smelt and roach. Finnish fish is clean and nutrient-rich food which you should eat at least twice a week. You can find your favourite by trying out the different types and different ways to cook them.
Seasonal living is routine at Vihiluodon Kala, a fish business located on the outskirts of Oulu. The business’ restaurant offers daily catch from the local fishers. There is also Norwegian fish on offer, which, when smoked, is its biggest seller.
“We get our fish locally from the Bay of Bothnia and the lake Oulujärvi. Sure this is a challenging field where you have to rely on getting a catch. Because of this, our cooks have learned to plan our menus in the morning when we know what we can offer that day,” says Vihiluodon Kala CEO Seppo Helanen.
Appreciation for wild fish on the rise
Vihiluodon Kala is a 25-year-old fish wholesaler and processing company which also opened up a restaurant three years ago along with its new production facilities. Over the years, Helanen has seen how there has been an increase in the appreciation for wild Finnish fish.
“People today are willing to pay for wild fish. However, the fishers unfortunately often feel like they’re backed into a corner because their catch has become smaller and the limits on fishing drive them to feel restricted.”
Helanen is continuously in touch with the fishers. They take their catch to him as soon as they bring the fish in from the sea. Finnish fish has gained the attention of consumers with, in addition to healthfulness, its ecological qualities. It is only a good 50 kilometres for the catch to get from the island and municipality of Hailuoto to Vihiluodon Kala. At the same time, consumers also get to try slightly more unfamiliar fish such as smelt.
“Our customers are brave enough to sample even stranger types, and those who have eaten fish all their lives, gladly welcome old, familiar alternatives. But it sure is a challenge to get people knowledgeable about different species.”
Health benefits of fish can’t be beat
Even though the appreciation for wild fish has been on the rise, great masses still follow prices. The benefits of Finnish fish, however, can’t be beat. In addition to the fact that fish is healthy and contains a great deal of good fats and vitamin D, favouring Finnish fish is also beneficial to local businesses through employment.
“This is local food because it’s a short trip for the fish from the sea to the consumer’s plate. You also know where it comes from and what it is. When you eat what’s in season, you also get variety, and you won’t get bored with the same old thing,” Helanen professes.
It is difficult for Helanen to choose his favourite, because he likes whitefish, pike, perch and pike-perch equally. The most important thing is that it is fresh and domestic. The company’s products also come from fresh fish, such as smoked whitefish and fried vendace. The home cook should try them, too, because the world is chock full of excellent fish recipes, and you won’t have far to go to get the ingredients.
Text and photos: Saara Kärki