Exploring the Flavors of Scandinavian Cuisine

Exploring the Flavors of Scandinavian Cuisine: A Guide to Essential Herbs

Scandinavian cuisine is celebrated for its simplicity, freshness, and focus on natural ingredients. Herbs play a crucial role in enhancing the flavors of traditional Scandinavian dishes. Let’s explore the essential herbs used in Scandinavian cuisine and discover how they elevate traditional dishes. Plus, enjoy a special recipe for a classic Scandinavian dish at the end!

1. Dill (Dill):

Dill is a staple in Scandinavian cooking, known for its fresh, slightly tangy flavor. It is commonly used fresh and dried in salads, seafood dishes, and pickles. Dill is essential in dishes like Gravlax (cured salmon) and dill potatoes.

2. Chives (Gräslök):

Chives add a mild onion flavor and vibrant green color to Scandinavian dishes. They are often used fresh in salads, sauces, and as a garnish for soups and fish dishes.

3. Parsley (Persilja):

Parsley is used both fresh and dried, adding a bright, slightly peppery flavor to dishes. It is a common garnish and ingredient in soups, stews, and seafood recipes.

4. Thyme (Timjan):

Thyme provides a subtle, earthy flavor to many Scandinavian dishes. It is used both fresh and dried in soups, stews, and marinades.

5. Juniper Berries (Enbär):

Juniper berries impart a unique, piney flavor to Scandinavian cuisine. They are often used dried in marinades, sauces, and to flavor game meats.

6. Horseradish (Pepparrot):

Horseradish adds a sharp, spicy flavor to Scandinavian dishes. It is used fresh, grated, and as a condiment for fish dishes and cold meats.

7. Lovage (Libbsticka):

Lovage has a strong, celery-like flavor and is used fresh in soups, stews, and salads. It is a less common but distinctive herb in Scandinavian cooking.

8. Fennel (Fänkål):

Fennel adds a sweet, licorice-like flavor to dishes. Both the bulb and fronds are used in salads, soups, and seafood dishes.

9. Rosemary (Rosmarin):

Rosemary provides a pine-like, aromatic flavor and is used fresh and dried in roasts, stews, and bread recipes.

10. Bay Leaves (Lagerblad):

Bay leaves are used whole to impart a subtle, herbal flavor to soups, stews, and marinades. They are removed before serving.

Traditional Scandinavian Recipe: Gravlax (Cured Salmon)


  • 1 kg fresh salmon fillet, skin on
  • 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed white peppercorns
  • 1 large bunch of fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed (optional)


  1. Prepare the Cure: In a bowl, mix together the sea salt, sugar, crushed white peppercorns, and crushed juniper berries (if using).
  2. Cure the Salmon: Place a large piece of plastic wrap on a baking sheet. Sprinkle half of the dill on the plastic wrap. Place the salmon fillet on top, skin-side down. Cover the salmon with the salt and sugar mixture, ensuring it is evenly coated. Sprinkle the remaining dill on top.
  3. Wrap and Press: Wrap the salmon tightly in the plastic wrap, place another baking sheet on top, and weigh it down with something heavy (like cans or a skillet). Refrigerate for 24-48 hours, turning the salmon every 12 hours.
  4. Slice and Serve: After curing, unwrap the salmon, rinse off the excess cure, and pat dry. Slice the salmon thinly on a diagonal, starting at the tail end. Serve with mustard sauce, rye bread, and fresh dill.


The use of herbs in Scandinavian cuisine is essential to its distinctive flavors and aromas. Each herb brings its own unique character, enhancing the taste of traditional dishes. By incorporating these herbs into your cooking, you can bring a touch of Scandinavia to your kitchen.

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