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Filleting and boning pike - how to do it

Filéa pike

Drying was a common method of harvesting pike and other fish in the old Nordic farming community. A method more suited to our modern eating habits is filleting the fish. Thomas Drejing shows how it is done.

Pike may not be the first thing you think of when you get the urge to eat fish, but yes, the pike was actually one of our ancestors' most common food fish, along with perch and even roach. Most prized, however, were the salmon, the salmon trout, the whitefish and the more sporadic "roe fish", the char. Favourite fish varied, of course, depending on where you made your home - on the coast, inland, on the river or in the mountains.

What was not eaten directly - boiled, fried or fresh on the sandwich - was dried or salted to be eaten as potato sleeve while supplies lasted. It could be as simple as stringing a couple of cleaned perch on a stick and hanging them against a south wall or above the wood stove, or, when salting, immersing them in a wooden trough.

1968: Axel Eriksson holds up the big pike in Untra, Söderfors parish, Uppland. Photo: Arbetarbladet, Tierp / Upplandsmuseet (CC BY-NC-ND)

If you read the very informative book by the Värmland folklorist Nils Keyland (1867-1924) Swedish allmogekost (1919), however, filleting the fish does not seem to have been a common practice. Instead, the whole cooked fish was placed on the table with the bones and scales, and the diners had to remove the bones by hand.

I tasted dried pike once in my childhood. That's the only time. That's about to change. A preferred way to cook pike today that I have seen is to fillet the fish and make pike mince, which you then fry into steaks. Worth a try! Maybe I'll have to re-evaluate what I learned as a child, that pike is only good as cat food. We'll see.

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One thought on “Filéa och bena ur gädda – så gör du

  1. Marcus says:

    When I was a child, my mother often made pike in the oven with milk sauce directly in the tin, very tasty. Another favourite was that she would make mince from the fillets and mix with an equal amount of minced pork and make meatballs from, half a finely chopped onion, two teaspoons of salt and a dash of white pepper for half a kilo of mince I remember was the standard mixture.

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