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Eating the Latvian Way

Delicious Food with Traditional Recipes

Karbonade

The traditional kinds of Latvian foods include pork. However, today there are people who eat more chicken, fish, and even those who have become vegetarian. Restaurants in Riga offer many different cuisines but if you want traditional then you must look for those that offer Latvian cuisine.

Among well-known and well-liked pork dishes are:

Karbonade ar kaulu these are pork chops with the meat still attached to the bone. They are fried quickly and then sautéed in the pan until tender. They can be coated in flour or dipped in egg and coated with bread crumbs.

Without the bone, it is also called karbonade, but in this case, it is a pork schnitzel.

There are such interesting pork dishes as cukas stilbs or pork knuckle, cukas auss or pig’s ears, grudenis or pig’s head stew, and cukas kajas or pig’s feet.

Actually, with pig’s feet and some other fresh pork pieces with bone, you can make a delicious dish known as galerts or jellied pork. The pork is boiled until tender with pieces of carrot and onion for flavor for the soup. Just add salt and pepper. When the pork is done you take it out and cool it. Then you cut up the pork into small bits, even the pork rind. Take boiled eggs slices along with slices of carrot. Put these in the bottom of bowls and add the bits of pork to each bowl. Then make sure the pork bouillon is hot. You’ll fill up the bowls with the bouillon and put them into the fridge. Once they get cold they will become like jelly. You then take a bowl and put out the pork jelly onto a dish and the carrot and eggs at the bottom make a nice decoration. Cut in slices and eat.

Most of the hot pork dishes get served with kartupeli or potatoes which can be boiled, fried or mashed. Another usual side dish is griki or boiled buckwheat.

A vegetable which takes place of honor on a Latvian table is kaposti or cabbage. They can be sautéed fresh or served cold as a salad. Latvian tradition is to make skabie kaposti or sauerkraut. Not the sour, plain kind. In Latvian cuisine, you add the sauerkraut to the pot, sprinkle in caraway seeds, adjust for seasonings like some salt and pepper. Add some water not too much and set to boiling then lower the flame and sauté the sauerkraut for several hours checking to see that it doesn’t get scorched and add a bit of water when needed. When the sauerkraut is ready it will be golden in color, tender and so delicious. There are times when I sauté the sauerkraut with a smoked pork knuckle which also becomes tender and the sauerkraut picks up the smoky flavor.

Another delicious side dish or a dish by itself or even an appetizer is pelekie zirni or grey peas. Big, grey round peas are soaked overnight then placed in a pot and boiled until tender and then fried with bacon and onions.

Latvians enjoy pickling many different kinds of foods including beets, mushrooms, and cucumbers.

A traditional Latvian salad is called rosols which includes a variety of cubed meats like ham, boiled potatoes, peas, and a dressing with a combination of mayonnaise, mustard, and sometimes horseradish, according to taste.

A very delicious way to prepare cucumbers is to slice them very thinly and mix with chopped fresh dill, some salt and pepper, and sour cream as a dressing.

A bowl of delicious soup is frikadelu or meatball soup. The ground beef or a combination of ground beef and ground pork is mixed with some eggs, depending on how much meat you have, bread crumbs, or the traditional Latvian way some stale white bread that has been soaked in milk is added and sour cream. The meat is mixed and then rolled into meatballs. You can use your own prepared beef bouillon or boil up a pot of water and add bouillon cubes. First, you add some cut up onions and carrots and when these are tender, add cubed potatoes until they are tender. At the last, you add the meatballs and once they come floating up to the surface the soup it is ready. A most delicious soup often served in a bowl with a spoonful of sour cream.

Latvians make a very delicious cheese called Janu siers. This is a Latvian sour milk cheese that is traditionally made for the Latvian mid-summer solstice but it can be made at any time. It is made with milk, cottage cheese and heated in a large pot on the stove stirring constantly until the cottage cheese forms into one large mass. The milk will be on top. Then add butter, eggs, salt, and caraway seeds. Afterward, take a sieve and pour the mixture in it and the cottage mass gets placed back into the pot. Keep stirring until it is of constant consistency. Take a plate and place a piece of cheesecloth over it. Put the cheese mass into the cheesecloth, tie the cheesecloth around it, and form a circle. Put another plate on top and something to weigh it down. Leave it overnight and the next day when removing the cheesecloth you should have a nice round cheese ready for cutting and enjoying.

The basic Latvian seasonings include salt, pepper, dill, and caraway seeds.

Dark Bread Soup

Latvians simply love baking and desserts. Among the favorites are maizes zupa or dark bread soup with some whipped cream on top and kiselis which is a starchy, fruit pudding served with milk.

A real taste treat is traditional Latvian piragi. In English, they are referred to as bacon buns. It is always a great idea to make a big batch of these because everyone loves them. They are mostly made on holidays but can be great to eat at any time. There are many recipes available online.

There is also sklandrausis a delicious sweet pie that consists of mashed carrots and potatoes baked in a rye flour crust. The interesting thing about this tasty treat is that in 2013 it became the very first Latvian food to be listed in the EU’s Traditional Specialties Guaranteed TSG registry which means that only a pie baked according to a specific recipe can be called a sklandrausis.

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Eating the Latvian Way
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