Let’s go back to a very nice Saturday of autumn that I spent with my dear husband Klaus and friends not so far from where we live: Hailuoto.
Hailuoto is an island, nearby the city of Oulu. It is not connected to the mainland by any bridge, but do not worry: in summertime there are boats coming and going every half an hour, whereas in wintertime, when the ice is thick enough (yes, it’s very normal, and it happens every year actually, that it would be so cold that the sea would freeze), it’s possible to go by car, on a ice road!
The weekend we visited the island there would be the annual whitefish market, which was held for the 25th time. The place in general is just amazing. Even though the island is actually quite big, there would be only a thousand inhabitants, that would make a population density of only 5 people every square kilometer (just to compare it to something: in Italy the population density is more than 200 people every square kilometer), and it does tell something about the place. As it’s true for many other places in Finland, Hailuoto’s main attraction is pure, wild, pristine nature. There would be only one main road asphalted, skirted by trees and a wooden house every once in a while.
And “some” swans.
The market would be held close to the lighthouse and the harbor of Marjaniemi, on the other side of the island. I liked the general atmosphere of the place. The people were interestingly lively and happy, despite the unexpected (that is, for me) cold.
The village was so extremely cute that it looked almost fake! All the buildings would be traditionally red because of the paint called punamulta, a natural and made out of Finnish ground which contains some minerals, such as lead, copper and quartz, that make it red.
Now, you see this house up here? Look at its roof. In the past, a man used to stand there and look at the sea so, in case something would come up, he’d be ready to sound the alarm.
There were so many interesting things to see at the market, handmade and typical from Finland: a blacksmith, a woman knitting, a man selling wooden carved animals.. And of course, fish. Good, fresh and cheap fish!
I really felt at peace that day. The company was great, the atmosphere was so relaxed, the landscapes were breathtaking. So, if you ever come around Oulu, you’ve got to visit Hailuoto. Its pure nature, the almost unnatural light that this place has, are something that will surely be impressed in your memory.
For more info about this beautiful place, head to the Hailuoto website here.
But let’s go back to main reason why we visited Hailuoto that specific day: the whitefish market! Are you wondering what’s the best way to cook it?
Klaus and I like to cook whitefish in a really simple way. Taking into account that fresh whitefish is already delicious as it is, there is no need to add anything much to it. All you’ll need to do is fry it in a pan with a little bit of butter, season it with some salt and pepper and you’ll have a delicious fish ready to eat!
If you really like to go fancy, I suggest you this super quick feta-cheese basil sauce to serve at the top of the already cooked fish. I noticed that the sauce becomes creamier and is at its best if kept in refrigerator for some time before the use, just half an hour is enough.
This dish is actually really summery, so I’ll eat it with a simple salad in which you can just mix what’s available in the season: radishes, spring onions, tomatoes, cucumber, just use your imagination!
- 300 g of whitefish fillets
- Sea salt to taste
- 150 g of feta cheese
- 3 basil stalks
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- Pepper to taste
- Fry the fillets in a frying pan with some butter, sprinkling them with salt and pepper to taste
- Chop the basil finely, both the leaves and the stalks
- Smash the feta cheese
- Mix the basil, the feta cheese, the lemon juice and zest and let it rest in a bowl covered with cling film
- Season with pepper
- Serve the fish still warm topped with the sauce
Thank you for posting this! The Pernula side of my family came to America from Hailuoto in the early 1900s and settled in the Pacific Northwest. In the 1970s I visited relatives still living in Hailuoto. I found the place magical, and I felt close to some of my family roots. I will try this fish recipe in memory of my Hailuoto ancestors.
So nice to hear your story, Nate! Thanks for sharing! I’m happy you had the chance to visit where your ancestors used to live. Hope you’ll enjoy the fish 😉