The Korvkiosk
– a uniquely Swedish culinary expression

In Sweden hot dog culture has evolved into a gastronomy of  its own ever since the first dog was served in Stockholm in 1897. Originally hot dogs were sold from small street food carts and served with bread and possibly mustard. As time passed, because of hygiene regulations and the popularization of the carts, stationary mini-restaurants called Gatukök,  “street kitchens”, become popular.

The fact that both the poor hot dog vendors and their customers had a harsh time during the Swedish winters undoubtedly helped push the development of Gatukök.

When the Swedish varmkorv moved indoors, the real development of its unique expression suddenly took off. All of a sudden there were new possibilities to offer a more varied menu. Partly because there was more space, but also because of access to a kitchen with a different capacity than before. Since customers were seated, they were no longer in a hurry to finish their meal, and an appetite for more complex dishes arose. The hot dog was no longer just a quickly grabbed snack, but a full meal in its own. In the 50’s, the foundation was laid for many of the dishes that we today take for granted, and new garnishes like ketchup and bostongurka (pickled cucumber mix) became popular.

We love Swedish hot dog culture and are proud to safeguard and elevate this uniquely Swedish culinary expression

Eventually a great regional variety arose across the country. Until a few decades ago, very few people outside Gothenburg knew what a hel special (two dogs in one bread with mash potato and shrimp salad on top) was, and the few who had visited Umeå had knowledge of parisare (a thick slice of falu-sausage in a burger bun). As with everything else in today’s fast-moving society, parisare has been somewhat forgotten by the fast-food chains which has lead to similar menus in most hot dog kiosks.

We love Swedish hot dog culture and are proud to safeguard and elevate this uniquely Swedish culinary expression.

What is a sausage, really?

According to the encyclopedia, a sausage is usually a food product that contains meat and is produced in an elongated shape. The Swedish word for sausage, korv, stems from the Middle Ages and means something like a bent stump. So far, all is well and relatively clear, but should one start to delve into the more intricate details of the world’s sausage fauna, it suddenly gets rather thorny.

A common misunderstanding among Swedes is that sausage with a higher meat content automatically is better

Historically (as well as today) the sausage was a way to use those animal parts that perhaps were less suitable to eat since they were chewy and small. By grinding or chopping and adding fat and any form of starch, you could alter the texture, and thus enhance the eating experience. In southern Europe, the sausage was often eaten fresh, partly because it was difficult to cold-store it to prevent it from go bad, but also because there was no winter and no need to store food for a longer time — you could harvest and slaughter year-round…

Farther north (Germany and more northern countries), the sausage was made to be preserved, which is why we have sausages like isterband, which are both fermented and smoked, and will virtually keep forever. On the other hand, in Algeria, there is fresh merguez, which is eaten on the same day as it is produced.

At Undersåkers Charkuteriefabrik we mainly make classic Swedish sausages, like wienerkorv (frankfurter), falukorv (hot-smoked, smooth mousseline sausage from Falun), isterband (cold-smoked, fermented barley sausage) and bräckkorv (seared hot-smoked sausage), but sometimes we make special sausages for our kiosk. These can be found on the menu for a limited time, inspired by sausages from all over the world, but always made by us.

“The Swedish word for sausage, korv, stems from the Middle Ages and means something like a bent stump”

A common misunderstanding among Swedes is that sausage with a higher meat content automatically is better. In reality, this is hooey made up by the large-scale industry, and it’s also a number that can be manipulated endlessly (because of somewhat crazy regulations), which leads to funny newspaper headlines about sausages with 110% meat. For example, take an isterband, which has to contain at least 25% cooked barley to be called isterband — there, the meat content is already down to 75%. If you also consider that an isterband must contain some fat, perhaps you’re down to 65%. If you only took chopped meat and stuffed it into a casing, it would after the cooking process turn out to be something like a bag of marbles, filled with dry meat gravel — not at all a succulent, acidic isterband.

The list is long : wienerkorv contains cream, and potato goes into falukorv and cognacsmedwurst (hot-smoked sausage of beef and pork with cognac). It’s the mix that gives the sausages their distinctive character, and the point is that meat content is completely irrelevant as an indicator of quality. What’s important is what meat and what other unprocessed food the sausage is made of, and how good they are.

Simply put, our sausages contain just the right amount of meat, but damn good meat. Most of them are also ecologically certified.

If you take mechanically separated meat (I dare you to google the term), tendons and other bits and pieces, and mix them together with starch and sausage phosphate (phosphate is prohibited in detergents since 2008, but still allowed for charcuterie), it’ll never result in a high quality product, even if the percentage of meat can be high in theory.

We make sausages using what most people think of when they hear the word meat: pieces of muscles. Other than that, there’s no fuss involved; if it says potatoes on the label, it means we’ve bought the potatoes from the surrounding area we liked the most and then peeled them and added them to the sausage. Easy, right?

Simply put, our sausages contain just the right amount of meat, but damn good meat. Most of them are also ecologically certified.

Soft ice cream

Almost everyone who works or has worked in the restaurant business has sweet memories of dipping a spoon into a tub of freshly made ice cream, right from the ice cream maker. That smoothly chewy, but still fluffy texture is something very special. That was the feeling we wanted to achieve when we decided to introduce a soft ice cream.

Besides the eating experience, we wanted the ice cream  to contain only what we think really good ice cream should contain, which means milk, egg and sugar. No modified starch, palm oil, corn syrup, synthetic flavoring, gelling agents, color additives (by the way, did you know there is a color additive called “egg yolk”, which is complete madness — add eggs instead, they are yellow) and other oddities.

After much testing and after having tried loads of different soft ice cream makers, we came up with a recipe we were happy with and we also found the right machine. Most soft ice cream makers actually can’t make ice cream from real unprocessed foods; apparently they’re built for industrial mixing and generally make really bad ice cream from really good ice cream mixture.

Thank goodness we found Japanese Nissei that, in our opinion, produces the world’s top ice cream makers. The makers also cost about as much as small Japanese cars, but they are definitely worth it, as good ice cream is one of the best things in the world.

Since really good milk is so lovely in itself, we never add any flavoring in the ice cream, but instead we let it taste just like that — just milk

The ice cream is made of milk that comes either from Åre bondgård or Järna Mejeri, depending on where it’s served. Since really good milk is so lovely in itself, we never add any flavoring in the ice cream, but instead we let it taste just like that — just milk.

Throughout the year we serve our soft ice cream with an assorted selection of toppings and extras, or as a part of more elaborate desserts.

Our soft ice cream is also the base in Korvkiosk’s milkshakes.

Tunnbrödsrulle from well-known hot dog kiosk is different!

The reason we have a flatbread culture in northern Scandinavia is that, historically, before we started transporting food in trucks, it wasn’t particularly practical to make loaves of bread in most parts of our region. In order for a loaf of bread to be good, it has to be consumed fresh, or almost fresh. Tunnbröd (flatbread), on the other hand, is excellent for drying and can be stored virtually forever.

In the past (or nowadays, for that matter), no person in their right mind would light their wood-fired oven daily to bake their own bread, and so, in order for the fresh loaf to work as part of the everyday diet, we need bakeries. For bakeries to exist, they need people who buy their bread from them. Most bigger towns and cities in Scandinavia lie in the southern parts of the region or around our coasts, and this obviously where there are enough customers for the bakeries. However, by comparison, hardly anybody lives in the heart of flatbread country, and most people simply had to bake their own bread until transports and the food industry became mechanised and we learnt how to bake a lot of bread in one place and efficiently transport it to another.

Another factor that has contributed to our northern flatbread culture is our climate and the grains that thrive here. In order to have fluffy, well-risen bread, you need a rather high proportion of gluten in your dough, which you get by using wheat flour. Wheat mainly grows in the south, and hardly at all in the north, especially not in the interior. In our native Jämtland, for example, other cereal grains were cultivated, like barley, which not only is more suitable for our climate, but also for flatbread (rather than loaves of bread).

We’d like to help preserve a part of our food culture, which not only is interesting but also very yummy.

In the past, almost every farm in the northern interior of Sweden had their own flatbread oven, and eating products baked in these was a part of everyday life. Today you no longer have to eat homemade flatbread due to lack of other bread. The only problem is that if you don’t bake yourself, or know somebody who owns an oven and can bake themselves, it’s practically impossible to find really good flatbread. Most flatbread produced for sale is of an extremely bland industrial standard, and eating it is a bit like making a sandwich of two sheets of extra thick kitchen paper.

The truth is that fewer and fewer people master the craft in the bakehouses of Norrland, and fewer and fewer wood-fired ovens are intact and working.

We find this to be a very sad development, and we’d like to help preserve a part of our food culture, which not only is interesting but also very yummy.

Instead of buying all our flatbread from one large producer, we’ve chosen to buy it from many small producers, which gives us flatbread ROUNDS that are different, but so much better.

There’s no lower limit to how much you can deliver to us, and some of our bakers deliver only some ten flatbread rounds a year, when they decide to bake for themselves and their families.

We welcome anybody who wants to bake for us, as long as you register your bakehouse as a food company (we can help with the self-monitoring program). When you contact us, you get a short list of the things we like, in order for us to get a flatbread that suits our hot dog kiosk:

  • We like well seasoned bread; coarsely ground caraway seeds, fennel seeds and anise seeds as well as perhaps coriander seeds are all ingredients we think should go into the mix.
  • All our flatbread contains some barley, usually mixed with rye, and always mixed with wheat.
  • Our flatbread should not contain vegetable fats (no margarines or oils), only butter.
  • We like wood-fired ovens and bread baked at a really high temperature, so that it gets that slightly burnt, bitter edge.
  • It works best for us if the flatbread rounds have a diameter of 45 cm, and we’d like them to be cut in quarters directly after baking, before they’re frozen in plastic bags.

Buy a tunnbrödsrulle and be a part of preserving this fine part of the Swedish culinary tradition.

Shrimp salad

Like a pink caress, this creamy marvel elevates hot dogs in bread and flatbread alike. Since its establishment in Swedish hot dog culture in the 70’s, when many Swedes inadvertently started eating surf ’n’turf, shrimp salad has been an essential garnish in the local kiosk.

Shrimp salad doesn’t generally contain many shrimps, but mostly different root vegetables, like white beets, which, when dressed in pink goo, can easily be confused with the queen of the northern Atlantic: the Northern shrimp. We peel our shrimps by hand (MSC-labelled — what else?) and add chopped stalk celery, carrots, shallots, parsley and a well-seasoned, freshly whisked mayonnaise. We mix our shrimp salad daily in each kiosk for optimal freshness.

For you who, in spite of the fact that our shrimp salad is incomparably better than the industrial kind, walk up to the counter and say things like “Hey man, there’s just a load of veggies in this one. Where the hell are the shrimps?” we’d like to say two things. One: there’s twice the amount of shrimps in our salad than in the one you buy at the supermarket. Two: if there were only shrimps, it wouldn’t be a shrimp SALAD, it’d just be “shrimps”.

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