Finland Magazine

Kalakukko- Wild Food from Finland

Kalakukko- Wild Food from Finland

Kalakukko is a traditional Finnish savory pie filled with fish and pork, baked inside a loaf of rye bread. It is a specialty of the Savo region of Finland, and is particularly popular in the city of Kuopio. Kalakukko is typically made with vendace (muikku), a small freshwater fish, but other small fish such as perch (ahven) or smelt (särki) can also be used. The pork is usually salted and may be smoked or cured. The pie is baked for several hours in a hot oven, until the crust is golden brown and the fish and pork are cooked through. Kalakukko is a hearty and flavorful dish that is often served with a side of potatoes and lingonberry jam.



  • 5 dl (2 cups) water
  • 1 dl (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 800 g (6 cups) rye flour
  • 1 dl (1/4 cup) melted butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt


  • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) vendace (muikku), cleaned and dried
  • 400 g (14 oz) fatty pork belly, salted
  • Salt


  1. Process the vendace: Remove the heads and guts from the vendace and rinse them thoroughly. Pat them dry with paper towels.

  2. Prepare the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the water, all-purpose flour, and salt. Gradually add most of the rye flour, mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Add more rye flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  3. Assemble the filling: On a large baking sheet, arrange the vendace in a single layer. Season with salt. Lay the pork belly slices over the vendace, overlapping them slightly. Season with more salt.

  4. Shape the kalakukko: Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a round disk about 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick. The center of the disk should be slightly thicker than the edges. Transfer the dough to a greased baking sheet.

  5. Gently lift the edges of the dough and fold them over the filling, completely enclosing it. Pinch the seams to seal. If there is any excess dough, trim it off.

  6. Score the top of the kalakukko with a sharp knife in a crisscross pattern. This will allow steam to escape during baking.

  7. Bake the kalakukko: Preheat the oven to 250°C (480°F). Brush the top of the kalakukko with melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes.

  8. Reduce the oven temperature to 125°C (250°F) and continue baking for 5-6 hours, or until the kalakukko is golden brown and the crust is firm.

  9. Remove the kalakukko from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap the kalakukko in a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for at least 3 hours before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld and the crust to soften slightly.


  • For a richer flavor, you can use smoked or cured pork belly.
  • If you don't have vendace, you can substitute other small fish such as perch or smelt.
  • Kalakukko can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Enjoy your delicious Kalakukko!