Estonian National Dish – Estonian Sauekraut

April 25, 2011 , In: Mains , With: 3 Comments

The National Dish of Estonia is Valmistusained.  Actually, it’s Valmistusained with Verivorst which is black pudding (sausage).  However, there was no way I was eating or making that.  And YES I have had blood sausage before.

Estonians seem to like to cook with blood.  I found an Estonian website which had a section called ‘Dishes with Blood’ which had a dish called Blood Pancakes.  It starts off with ‘strain the blood’ and ends off with ‘serve with whortleberry-apple salad’.  What?!

This is by far the weirdest cuisine I’ve come across, which kind of makes me want to see the place in person!

Estonian Sauerkraut
adapted from an Estonian website here

1 kg sauerkraut
700 g slightly salted pork
100 g barley grits
2 tomatoes

  • Boil the sauerkraut in a little water.
  • Add barley and meat
  • Cook at a simmer until the barley is cooked.
  • Add salt to taste
  • Place sauerkraut and meat in a bowl.  
  • Top with tomatoes and herbs.
  • Serve with boiled potatoes.

Verdict: 1/10

OK, so granted I didn’t serve this dish with tomatoes and herbs or even boiled potatoes but this was nearly the worst thing I ever ate (besides the raw dough in the Croatia post perhaps).  I used salted pork belly as the meat (trimming the fat) and boiling it with the sauerkraut is definitely not a recommended cooking method.  Then you get this hit of chewy barley….  It didn’t work, was ultra salty and the smell was completely overpowering.  I threw it in the garbage and had to take it immediately outside so it didn’t continue to stink the place up.  Sorry Estonia…  but never again.

  1. Reply

    Oh dear, where do I begin? Okay. First of all, “valmistusained” means “ingredients”. To say that “Ingredients” is the national dish of Estonia is a ridiculous, unresearched statement.

    Sauerkraut is called “Hapukapsas”. Prepared CORRECTLY it is one of the most delicious dishes you would ever want to eat. We don’t put tomatoes in it.

    Blood sausage is usually only served at Christmastime. Cooked correctly, it is equally as delicious as boiled or baked sauerkraut. Crispy skin, crackly where it breaks open, the inside of the sausage fairly loose, it’s a perfect partner to lingonberry or cranberry sauce and baked or boiled sauerkraut.

    Estonians do not use blood for many dishes. The “pancakes” you mention are almost never made any more. Not they that, too, weren’t delicious. The blood has no discernible flavour. The blood sausage is primarily made of barley and added flavourings with the blood binding it and adding lots of nutritional iron.

    Our cuisine is far from weird. Its basics are meat and potatoes, vegetables and grains. We have very tasty recipes, lots of comfort food, commonplace ingredients. People of all ages crave all the ordinary, simple dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

    You need an Estonian to cook a proper meal for you!

    Meanwhile, take a look at to see the variety in our cuisine.

      • Michelle
      • April 16, 2013

      Thank-you for the correction, and the Estonian cooking primer. I have no doubt that many Estonian dishes are delicious and I’ll look into your blog!

  2. Reply

    Michelle, Marga has left you a detailed reply already, and a link to her blog about Estonian recipes.
    My blog isn’t strictly Estonian, but there are 175 Estonian recipes as well:

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Michelle Little

Writer & Photographer

Originally from the prairies and now in Montreal, I love exploring new places, eating great food and modern design. I'm mom of two wild things and paper and cake make me happy. Photographing your cutie family would make me very happy.

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