Surströmming (fermented Baltic herring or soured Baltic herring) is one of Sweden’s most infamous products and is wildly popular in northern Sweden.
Surströmming is the same thing as strömming (Baltic herring), which are smaller than sill (Atlantic herring). The strömming used for surströmming is caught just before spawning, and the fermentation starts from a lactic acid enzyme in the spine of the fish, which releases aromatic smelling acids and hydrogen sulphide! Despite this, many Swedes still love surströmming!
Fermented fish is not a new trend. The ancient Greeks and Romans made a famous sauce from fermented fish, and Worcestershire Sauce also has a fermented fish ingredient.
There is a misbelief among many that surstromming should be eaten directly from the can, although nothing could be more wrong. First, have everything prepared, such as freshly boiled potatoes, butter, bread, chopped onion, cold beverages, before opening the can, as the initial smell of surströmming tends to take over all other fragrances in the room.
Check out this enthusiastic swede below for a more detailed explanation of how to eat surstromming.