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Kalakukko

Kalakukko is a traditional food from the Finnish region of Savonia made from fish baked inside a loaf of bread. The Cornish pasty from Cornwall has the same basic idea of complete packed lunch.

Traditionally, kalakukko is prepared with rye flour, although wheat is often added to make the dough more pliable. The filling consists of fish, pork and bacon, and is seasoned with salt (unless the pork is already salted). After being baked for several hours, kalakukko looks much like a large loaf of rye bread. If prepared correctly, all the bones of the fish inside it have softened and the filling is moist as all the meat and fish juices have been cooked inside the bread.

Traditionally, the fish used in kalakukko is either the vendace (Finnish muikku), or European perch (Finnish Ahven), but salmon is also sometimes used. In southern Savonia the vendace is advocated as the only fish for the true kalakukko whereas in the northern parts of the province the same is said about the perch. Instead of fish, also combinations of potato and pork or rutabaga and pork are possible. The appropriate drink to accompany kalakukko is buttermilk or piimä.

Kalakukko can be heated in an oven. It takes about one hour in 130 degrees Celsius if the size of the kalakukko is about 1 kg. It can also be eaten cold. One way (and many say the only right way) to eat kalakukko is to open the top with a sharp knife, eat the top with butter, and then slice some of the bread making the hole on the top larger and eat it with the filling.

Kalakukko will keep for a long time when unopened. It used to be a practical lunch for workers away from home.

An average Finnish-speaking person today finds the name somewhat amusing, as kala is Finnish for "fish" and kukko is Finnish for "rooster", leading to the oft used but non-morphological translation, "fish cock". However, the archaic form of kukko is derived from the same root as kukkaro (purse).

It is said that Kuopio marketplace is the original and best place to buy kalakukko. There you can also buy a very small kalakukko to try.

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