Kalakukko, a stuffed bread, has been made for centuries in the town of Kuopio, at the heart of eastern Finland’s historical Savo region. Today, kalakukko is still artisanally produced by many families, who bake this fish-and-pork-stuffed bread from rye and oats. The filling of kalakukko is usually either vendace or perch from local lakes wrapped in fine strips of fatty Finnish bacon. The only seasoning used is salt. In medieval times when salt was very expensive and primarily used to preserve meat, baking kalakukko was an efficient way to benefit from all the salt used in making bacon, as it seeped into the fish and flavored the loaf. Kalakukko is baked slowly for nearly 20 hours and after it has cooled it keeps well for at least 2 weeks. Kalakukko is delicious warm, and traditionally it is served heated with butter on top and boiled potatoes. A cold slice of kalakukko also makes a good traditional lunch, accompanied by cold milk or buttermilk. Originally, most kalakukko was consumed in this way, tucked into a pocket for an on-the-go snack.
Image: Slow Food Archive