Chef Niklas Ekstedt is doing something different at his Stockholm restaurant Ekstedt: he’s eliminated electricity from the cooking process. As he explains on the Ekstedt website, there are “no electric cookers, no gas burners; just heat, soot, ash, smoke and fire” in the kitchen. Ekstedt’s team uses the fire pit, wood-fired oven and wood stove to bring a range of complex flavours out of fresh, seasonal produce.
While Ekstedt is all about modern Swedish food, the focus on wood-fueled cooking gives a rugged, rustic feel that sets it apart from other great Stockholm restaurants and speaks to the roots of traditional Swedish cooking. Sweden may as well have invented the technique of smoking food considering the role it has played in the country’s cuisine, so it’s no surprise that at Ekstedt, smoking is as vital a step as chopping in dishes, from the cold smoked arctic char with radish and seaweed to the smoked butter accompanying blackened langoustine and kohlrabi.
My absolute favourite item from the 6-course tasting menu was the cast iron bone marrow with buttermilk and vendace roe. This, as much as the other dishes, was an incredible modern interpretation of traditional Swedish cooking techniques and ingredients. I’m really pleased to see the Swedes celebrating local ingredients and doing so with such creativity. It’s all the more impressive that Ekstedt manages to do this while respecting a self-imposed limit of using only wood-fired cooking techniques.