Want to learn more about Estonian Food? Here’s a list of traditional dishes and food from Estonia that you should try while visiting as well as an introduction to the Estonian cuisine.
Kiluvõileib is a traditional sandwich from Estonia that consists of rye bread and sprat. It’s an open-face sandwich made with dark rye bread on which butter and spread are added and then topped with the sprat fillet.
The sprat fillet is marinated with a selection of herbs and the toppings include finely diced red onions, butter, poached eggs, and sliced gherkins. A traditional preparation method involves coating the bread with munavoi, which is a mixture of egg and butter.
Kiluvõileib is an integral part of Estonian food culture and is commonly eaten all over the country. It may be consumed at any time of the day and is often served during festive occasions.
Rosolje is a popular side dish and food from Estonia which consists of a potato and beetroot salad. The salad is bright pink and is commonly served at parties and festivities.
The key ingredients are bite-sized pieces of red beetroot and potatoes. Additional ingredients include chopped onions, pickles, horseradish, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, and one of the most important traditional ingredients, herring. Rosolje is served cold or at room temperature.
Mulgipuder, or Mulgi’s porridge, is a staple food that originated from the Mulgid people in southern Estonia. It comprises of a rustic porridge made from groats (pearl barley) and mashed potatoes.
Traditionally, all the ingredients were put on the stove early in the morning and by lunchtime, the porridge was ready. The only other ingredients are salt and water, making this dish a surprisingly simple to prepare with high nutrition.
Mulgipuder is often served with a side of bacon and sautéed onions accompanied by sour cream and rye bread.
Verivorst, or blood sausage, is a specialty item in Estonian cuisine that is a popular delight of the festive season in Estonia, most notably during the Christmastide. Like other blood sausages, these sausages are filled with cooked or dried blood and a choice of filler (usually pork, fat, or suet).
Verivorst is available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. A traditional serving involves cooking, baking, or frying the sausage and serving alongside lingonberry jam, butter, or sour cream. Verivorst has a very dark color when ready and a strong taste.
Head cheese, or sült, is a type of luncheon meat or cold cut. It is a traditional Christmas food in Estonia but enjoys popularity all year round. Head cheese is essentially a meat jelly, or terrine, made from the pig’s head and set in aspic.
The meat may also come from the gelatinous parts of pork, beef, poultry, and fish. The brain, eyes, and ears are usually removed while the tongue may be included. It may also be prepared from pork and veal trimmings.
The traditional way does not require a lot of seasoning but using high-quality meat is essential. Head cheese is served cold or at room temperature with carrots or greens often added to make it a complete meal.
Sünnipäevasalat, or birthday salad, is a popular traditional Estonian dish. It is a very simple dish to prepare and requires very few ingredients.
The main ingredients for sünnipäevasalat are potatoes, sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and any type of Estonian sausage (like a lastevorst or a verivorst).
The salad simply involves finely dicing and mixing all the ingredients to make a hearty, zesty, and creamy salad. Sünnipäevasalat can be eaten on its own or also as an open-faced Estonian sandwich. It is also common to pair it with Estonian bread (mustelib or sepik).
Tatrapuder is a popular porridge dish in Estonian cuisine that is traditionally made primarily from the buckwheat grain. It can also be made from any other type of cereal such as barley, oats, rye, or millet as well.
The grains are simply boiled in water to form a porridge. They can be mixed with a variety of ingredients and the most popular one in Estonia is to use a mixture of minced pork and beef alongside onions, carrots, salt, and pepper. The dish is best paired with cold horseradish sauce and sour cream on the side.
Aspic is a traditional dish in Estonia which can be commonly found across Eastern Europe. The dish involves various ingredients set into gelatin that is usually prepared from meat stock.
Sweet aspic dishes are made with commercial gelatin mixes without stock and are called gelatin salads. The savory aspic dishes are made from cooled stock that is made from congealed meat.
The stock is clarified with egg whites and filled before the aspic sets. Meat pieces, fruits, and vegetables are the common foods set in aspics and are usually served cold.
Marineeritud Angerjas, or pickled eel, is a delicacy in Estonian cuisine. The main ingredients required to prepare the dish are fresh eel, salt, sugar, pepper, vinegar, and bay leaf.
Cleaning and then dissecting the eel are perhaps the biggest challenges in preparing this dish to perfection. The rest of the ingredients are added to a pot and brought to a boil.
The eel is chopped into small to medium-sized pieces and add to the pot. Once the fish is cooked, it turns white and the cooking can stop and let the mixture simmer for some time. The contents are then added to the jar and refrigerated for at least a day before serving it cold.
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Estonian rye bread is a type of bread that is famous all around the world and is considered the country’s national bread. It is a dietary staple and ingrained in the Estonian culture. A fantastic derivative dish called leib is the Estonian black bread that comprises of fermented rye bread.
The list of ingredients is short and includes whole-grain rye flour, buttermilk, kefir, salt, sugar, coriander, oat brans, and caraway seeds. Wheat flour may be added to add fluffiness, but this drifts away from the traditional methods which produce a high-density rye bread.
An introduction to Estonian Cuisine
The food culture in Estonia is typically linked to the various seasons of the year and the staples of the country, such as rye bread, meat and fish as well as potatoes and roots.
Throughout history, Estonian cuisine has been influenced by its neighbors, especially the Scandinavian and Russian kitchen, but also from the other Baltic countries and Germany.
In recent years, there has been a revelation in terms of new dishes and there is now an abundance of international foods available in the larger city. This wasn’t always the case, especially during the Soviet era.
What is your favorite Estonian food? Leave a comment below!