Notes from the Camp Kitchens

As we anticipate the groundbreaking of the new dining hall at Camp Vermilion, we are starting to get more visitors up here in the VLM office, ready to help out wherever possible. This past week several volunteers came to start cleaning up the brush along the road.  The weather was miserable that day. Who wants snow in March? Or as some may call it, "Smarch". But the volunteers still came to work on the road, so we all needed to eat. My thought? Stew.  And more importantly, Kala Mojaka, a Finnish fish stew. I LOVE it, and I thought some of these guys would like it, too.  

Kala Mojaka

  • 1 onion 

  • a few garlic cloves

  • a healthy scoop of butter 

  • 5 medium red skin potatoes (or what ever type you have on hand)

  • 6 cod loins  (or any other white fish) 

  • two cups of water

  • 4 cups of whole milk 

  • salt and pepper

  • 1 tbs of angostura bitters (These are normal "bar" bitters. If you don't have them use a pinch or two of nutmeg/ pie spice, but the bitters has a much better flavor and are quite useful in the kitchen.)

  • several spoonfuls of sour cream

1. Sweat the onions and garlic in your stew pot for a while with some salt and pepper. Don't brown them (this is Scandinavian cooking, after all, so color is something to use sparingly).

2. Cut the potatoes into smaller chunks, leaving the skin on if possible, and throw them into the pot.

3. Add a lot of pepper.

4. Pan fry the cod in a skillet or bake the fillets. Dry them out a bit more then you would normally as this will help the fish hold up better in the stew. Flake the fish into the pot.

5. Add about two cups of water and salt your stew. 

6. Let that simmer for a while until your potatoes are tender and some of the water has evaporated. 

7. Add 4 cups of whole milk. Make sure you do not let the pot boil or you will scald the milk.

8. Add 1 tbs of angostura bitters (or a pinch or two of nutmeg/ pie spice). 

9. Let it simmer a bit, but serve before the potatoes start to turn mushy.

10. Stir in a few spoonfuls of sour cream right before you serve it with some rye bread.

Fish stew can be quite polarizing in some eyes and stomachs, but if you haven't tried it in a while or ever, try it out. It is a good hearty stew for "Smarch" weather or whenever you want to feel like an old Finlander grumbling about "things these days". In all honesty though, this is a good, hearty, simple meal.

Kai Abrahamson

Camp Vermilion Hospitality Coordinator 

Kai@VLMcamps.org