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The Islands’ Cooking School

The Islands’ Cooking School 

When you have been to the islands and seen the islands, it’s time to taste the islands! The traditional dishes of Saaremaa, Muhu and Ruhnu are simple and seasonal, depending on what the sea, the forest or the field are currently offering.

Sour-gruel is a traditional Muhu dish that comes in many variants. The main ingredient is potato to which rye and/or wheat fl our is added. While in the fi rst half of the 20th century sour-gruel was among the main dishes of a Muhu dinner table, today it is above all known as a dessert and a festive dish. Vanatoa Farm Hotel’s executive manager Timo Pärn and chef Meelis Meedla have chosen the recipe of the original gruel leavened from potatoes. It is served with juniper caramel, biscuit crumbs and a handful of fresh berries.


  • 75 g of thinner bread leavening
  • 400 g of potatoes
  • 150 g of wheat flour
  • 50 g of rye flour
  • Half an apple, grated
  • 150 g of sugar

Boil the potatoes, mash them and press through a sieve. Add the leavening and set aside to leaven for 12 hours (overnight).

In the morning, add sugar and grated apple to the mixture and set it to boil. While boiling, add wheat and rye flour. Divide into bowls and place to cool in the fridge. Serve with cold milk or fresh berries.

Foto: Timo Pärn
Photo: Timo Pärn

Sheet pan potato bread is a traditional dish of Saaremaa, particularly Western Saaremaa. Potato is the main ingredient here as well, plus fatty salted or smoked pork, onions, flour, salt and eggs. It was traditionally made as an after-sauna meal on Saturdays. Sheet pan bread may be a simple everyday dish but is also great for festivities. Today, you can find it on the menus of several restaurants, as well as some- times at a local Coop store. The recipe was put together by chef Juss Lindmäe who teaches everyone to cook Saaremaa dishes at the Kena Köök training kitchen.


  • 1 kg of potatoes (new potatoes can be used unpeeled)
  • 400 g of smoked meat (the fattier, the better)
  • 2 larger onions
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g barley flour
  • 1 tsp of salt (depends on how salty the smoked meat is)

Wash (and peel, if necessary) and grate the potatoes and place on a sieve to drain.

Peel the onions and dice finely.

Remove rind from the smoked meat and cut into fine dices similar to the onions. Heat up the pan and fry the smoked meat and onions without adding any fat or oil.

Squeeze the water out of the potatoes and mix together potatoes, fried meat and onions, eggs, barley flour and salt.

Prepare an oven dish (place baking paper on the bottom, if possible) and spread the dough on it.

Bake in the over at 190 °C for about 30 to 40 minutes. Serve as creatively as you like!

Foto: Margit Kõrvits
Photo: Margit Kõrvits

The traditional flavours of the island of Ruhnu are always associated with a delicious cold water fish – the European whitefish. The European whitefish has a slender body, silvery sides, a tapered snout and a small head and it loves clear, oxygen-rich and cold water. Fast-fi sh has been a traditional bread spread on Ruhnu for years. Teele Nöps, the chef at the harbour restaurant Yljes, however, was inspired to serve the European whitefish in a coat of flavours dierent to what had so far been oered on the island.


  • 90 g of thinly sliced clean whitefish fillet (bite-sized strips)
  • 1 tsp of lime zest and 1 tsp of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 40 g of harder sour apples
  • 40 g of wakame seaweed salad
  • 4 g of capers
  • 15 g of onion (red is great)
  • 2 ml high-quality olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt (not the fine iodized table salt)
  • 4 slices of multi-grain bread, toasted
  • Saaremaa butter for the bread

For the carpaccio, take a flat plate, so you can easily place the layer of fish in a marinade.

Crush a little bit of black pepper evenly on the plate, sprinkle some salt, half of the lime zest, a few drops of lime juice and some stripes of olive oil.

Cut thin pieces from the skinned whitefish fillet and place these in the middle of the plate, side by side in a circle on top of the salt-pepper-lime zest-olive oil base.

Repeat the flavouring on top of the whitefish and leave the fish to suck in the flavours until you work on other ingredients.

Chop the small capers and sprinkle these also on the fish. Clean the onion and cut into very thin slices. Promptly mix these with the seaweed salad. Cut the apple into strips and promptly mix these with the seaweed salad. The apple tends to lose its colour if you don’t mix it with the seaweed salad right away.

Now place the apple-seaweed salad and the chopped onion in the middle of the plate on top of the marinated fish.

Garnish with an edible blossom (wood-sorrel, cornflower, fireweed).

Toast the bread slices, butter them up and share your whitefish dish with a friend!

Foto: Teele Nöps
Photo: Teele Nöps

NB! You can find local ingredients and all sorts of other good things from the web store. When buying from a store, keep an eye out for the label ‘EHTNE’ – that guarantees that the product has been made from local Saaremaa produce.

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