The flounder (Platichthys flesus), or skrubbskädda in Swedish, is a flatfish that lives in the muddy depths of coastal waters and feeds on invertebrates. Fishing and processing flounder is one of the main income-generating activities for small communities along the coast of Gotland and Öland.
Summer is the ideal time to fish for flounder, using nets close to the coastline. Once caught, the head is removed and the fish is immersed in a solution of salt and water for several hours. Next, the fish are hung by the tail on ropes in a sheltered, dry place, protected from direct sunlight. The salt is washed away while the fish are left to dry in the open air, to allow the skin to harden. Traditional smoking is done using an open fire of juniper and pinecones. If juniper wood is unavailable, alder and apple wood are used.
Smoked flounder is usually eaten after manually removing the skin and meat from the bones. It is prepared in salads with boiled potatoes, green lettuce, and pieces of apple, or served on toasted slices of rye bread, possibly with a glass the traditional drink cakked drickä.
Today in Gotland there are only about 10 traditional smokers left who sell directly. For many years, the production of smoked flounder using the traditional method has been in decline, due to mechanization and the presence of mass-produced alternatives.