Andreas blends his passion for food and writing into a nice mixture of TV shows, books, and articles that are all gaining international recognition. In February, he launched a monthly column in the Washington Post, called the Gastronomer, on the science of everyday cooking. Published at the end of 2007, his book, Where Flavor was Born, was named best cookbook travelogue of the year by National Public Radio. The book was recently awarded the "Best Foreign Cookbook in the World" in the Oscars of cook-books – Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Where Flavor was Born takes readers on a journey around the Indian Ocean on the old spice route, exploring the home of each ingredient and recipe he shares.
Curiosity and a wish to pass on his thirst for new discoveries seem to be the driving forces behind all his work. Andreas does not simply let you know how many pounds and ounces to put in your pie, he gives you the story behind the food he prepares and turns cooking and eating into a whole new experience. Andreas has been called “Norway’s Culinary Ambassador,” and rightly so. Andreas has been the host of three seasons of Scandinavian Cooking on PBS, and come September he will be co-hosting the new cooking series Perfect Day, also on PBS. In the series he travels trough Norway showing you the best of its food and scenery.
According to Andreas, the best thing about Norwegian cooking is its simplicity. “Norway is a country where there has always been a short way between sustenance and luxury, between too little and a lot. And one of the things this precarious balance has taught us is to take care of the ingredients we have and treat them with respect.” When asked why he departed from Scandinavian style cooking to write a cookbook inspired by spices of Asia, Andreas replied: “I am not really sure it is a departure. I have always liked to travel and experience places through food – whether they are in Norway or in the area around the Indian Ocean. And actually, I got the idea for my last book, Where Flavor Was Born, when I was cooking Norwegian food. Norwegians have always used a lot of spices – think only of the aquavit – and I wanted to see where they came from.”
You might claim that voyaging and exploring is in itself typically Norwegian, from the time of the Vikings until now. Surrounded by an ocean full of delights, fishcakes has always been a popular Norwegian dish, but try the variant with curry and lemongrass from Bali and Thailand from Andreas’s new book. See recipe below.
Spicy Lemongrass Fish Cakes
Serves 2 as a main course, 4 to 6 as a starter.
1 pound mixed white-fleshed fish fillets
3 to 5 tablespoons green curry paste (see Viestad’s book for recipe for homemade curry paste)
1 to 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped, or 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped
1 to 2 small green chilies, finely chopped (optional)
1 to 2 large eggs
Peanut oil for shallow frying
Bread crumbs or all-purpose flour for dredging
1. Rinse fish thoroughly under cold running water or, preferably, leave it in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes. This will firm the flesh. Drain, pat dry.
2. Remove any skin, bones, and/or fatty parts, and finely chop the fish using a sharp knife. This is a laborious process, but the results are much better than using a food processor or a blender.
3. Combine the fish, curry paste, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and chilies (if desired) in a bowl. Lightly beat 1 egg, add to the mixture, and mix well.
4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Using your hand and a spoon, mold about 1 tablespoon of the fish mixture into a small ball. Roll in bread crumbs and add to the pan. If the fish ball doesn’t hold together, beat the second egg and add some or all of it to the remaining fish mixture and make another test ball. When you have found the right consistency, shape the rest into balls, and fry until golden. You may have to fry the fish cakes in two batches not to crowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. Serve with coriander and mint sauce (see Viestad’s book for recipe) or a chili sauce. Serve with jasmine rice.