Enjoy this vintage salmon stew from Finland!
Lohimuhennos is a hearty salmon and potato stew from Finland. The name lohimuhennos is a simple compound word in Finnish. Lohi=salmon. Muhennos=stew. For a language that is largely impenetrable to non-native speakers, this is about as easy as it comes. The recipe comes to me by way of a 1939 cookbook: Recipes from “Round” the World, published by the McNess corporation. This cookbook contains recipes from a dozen countries presented in their original languages alongside an English translation. Lohimuhennos is one of five recipes from Finland.
The original recipe isn’t terribly clear. From the ingredient list I envisioned a baked salmon filet dressed with potatoes and vegetables. The first half of the instructions make it sound like poached salmon filets. And the last half sounds like some sort of soup. A cursory Google search turned up a dozen Finnish language references, which does me little good. I was finally bailed out by a 1952 issue of Boys’ Life, which includes a dish called “lohimus” in an article on kettle stews. Like the original recipe it simply calls for “salmon”, but then clarifies that “canned, fresh, smoked, or frozen salmon” are acceptable. This was enough for me to extrapolate a vegetable stew with large chunks of salmon.
Preparation is straightforward. First, boil whole potatoes and vegetables until tender. Then layer salmon pieces over top and dress with parsley and dill. After the salmon is cooked through, stir gently to mix ingredients and season to taste. Garnish with extra dill and tomatoes.
The only significant change I made to the recipe was to add a little bit of acid. The broth is kind of fishy on its own, and needs some help. The chopped tomatoes add a little but not enough, so I called an audible. I dressed the tomatoes with some extra dill and cider vinegar to make a quick relish. This was just enough to mask the fishiness while keeping the flavors fresh.
My family enjoyed Lohimuhennos more than I expected. We ate a late dinner on a brisk autumn night after a long day. The potatoes make it stick-to-your-ribs filling while the salmon keeps things from getting too heavy. I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough flavor, but a little bit of fresh dill goes a very long way. in terms of nutrition, Lohimuhennos has enough going on to serve as a one-pot meal. One-stop shopping for protein, vegetables, and starch. A slice of whole-grain bread would be a very Finnish way to sop up the extra broth. Enjoy!
- 2 lb salmon filet
- 2 carrots
- 1 sweet onion
- 10-12 small red potatoes (or white potatoes)
- chopped fresh dill
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- salt and pepper to taste
For the tomato relish
- Cut salmon filet into pieces about 2 inches wide. Add salt and pepper and set aside. Remove salmon skin if desired.
- Peel and slice carrots. Peel and quarter onion. Scrub potatoes well. Add vegetables to a large enameled Dutch oven and add enough water to cover.
- Bring to a low boil and let cook for 30 minutes until onions are translucent and potatoes are tender.
- Layer salmon pieces over top, along with a healthy handful of parsley and several tablespoons of chopped dill. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes until salmon is cooked through.
- Add butter. Scoop the cooking liquid and vegetables over top of the salmon, taking care not to pulverize the salmon in the process. Sprinkle the top with flour. Cover and cook five minutes more.
- Remove from heat. Gently stir to incorporate the flour and thicken the stew, trying to maintain large-ish chunks of salmon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tomato relish.
- Core tomatoes and coarsely chop. Toss with dill and cider vinegar. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.