Intriguing, cylindrical cans sit with the sild and brisling on Norwegian grocery shelves. Inside are flat, white, oblong things, almost like huge almonds packed in salty water. The man at the museum gave us serving directions.
"We don't cook them," he said, in the straightforward manner of Norwegian men. "We don't make them. We just buy them in the cans and open them." How should we eat them? "With potatoes and carrots." That's it? "And béchamel sauce." Béchamel sauce? "And nutmeg. Don't use the water in the can."
So, with rented kitchen equipment and lots of curiosity, we set about trying to come up with a more exciting combination than the one our museum friend offered. Béchamel sauce on fishballs with potato seemed a little too colorless, so Broccoli was substituted for the starch and the sauce got spiced up a little. We found some very nice chanterelles at the local supermarket - very fresh, wonderfully intact - some thyme and a jar of mustard. The trick would be getting it all hot, cooked and smooth at the same time.
Start by cooking the mushrooms with onion separately - this so that the chunks wouldn't get in the way of de-lumping the flour. At the same time, make a simple white sauce with butter, flour and milk. We stirred in coarse mustard, nutmeg, chives and thyme to the mix just as it thickened, then combined the mushrooms and some of their liquid. It's probably possible, with a practiced hand, to do this in one pot - softening the mushrooms right into the sauce - but playing it safe isn't a lot of extra work.
Here's a recipe for our Mustard and Chanterelle Béchamel Sauce.
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 onion, finely chopped
- Large handfull chanterelles or other delicate mushrooms, quartered
- 3 tablespoons white flour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons course mustard
- 3 - 4 sprigs fresh thyme, de-stemmed
- In one pan, soften mushrooms and some onion in a little butter. In a separate pan, soften rest of of onion in rest of butter. In yet another pan, warm milk until almost bubbling.
- Stir flour into onions and butter, working until smooth. Add chives and thyme. Cook lightly, without browning, for a few moments. At milk and stir vigorously until there are no flour clumps, maintaining a low heat. Add mustard, salt to taste.
- Cook mixture over low heat until thickened, about three or four minutes. Try not to boil. Stir in mushrooms and some (or all) of their extruded liquid, then check for the right viscosity. When appropriately saucy, remove from heat and serve quickly.