I have gotten the impression that to truly experience Swedish culture, you must experience surströmming. Luckily, I have arrived just in time for surströmming season (although I'm not sure why it has a season if it is canned)! And doubly luckily, I have made the acquaintance of some Swedish folks who are fans of surströmming. So I can now say that I have tried this Swedish delicacy!
you clicked the link to the wiki page, you will see a picture of the
exact can of surströmming that we had. If you didn't click the link, let
me just tell you that this fish gets a lot of hype. To me it has been
described as rotten fish that has the strongest, most-horrible odor in
the world. Ever. Technically it is just fermented and not rotten. But it
does have a really strong odor. We ate it outdoors, which is the
preferred method in order to keep your house from smelling for days
afterwards. The smell was definitely strong enough outdoors to make me
believe you would not want to open the can in your house. However, I
think I was prepared for an even stronger smell. It was pretty
entertaining to watch the can being opened inside a plastic bag in order
to prevent the pressurized can from spraying rotten fish juice
everywhere. It is definitely worth it to have professionals around for
I managed to be an observer of how to get the edible parts out. Some people eat the skin, some don't.
the fact that the smell of surströmming is wretched, the taste isn't
too terrible. It was really incredibly salty, and then had a sort of
fishy after-taste. The flavor wasn't too distinct, but I also ate only a
tiny tiny bite plain, and it was quite potent.
normal way to eat it is as pictured: bread, spread with butter, then
potatoes, then surströmming, then onion, tomato, more onion in sour
cream or mayo, topped with a bit of dill. And when the fish is all
decorated up like this, then it is really not so bad at all. Maybe I was
just enjoying the experience, but part of me thinks that if I had
prepared the same stack of food without the surströmming, it just might
not have tasted as good. The bit of salty-fishy-ness was so slight that
it just added a touch of flavor. Not so bad at all.