Journal måltidet ENG

Meals just taste
better outdoors

Cooking and eating outdoors brings people together and makes the meal a special experience. Chef and cookbook author Mikkel Karstad talks about his own relationship with foraging wild ingredients and cooking them outdoors – preferably over a campfire.  

Why do you love cooking in nature?
It’s a holistic experience. Sourcing the food yourself, preparing it on the spot and sharing it with others – it can be a very special thing. My family and I often forage wild ingredients from nature, such as on the beach or in the woods. We usually take what we find home to the garden and cook it outdoors. We do it almost every weekend, because we spend a lot of time outdoors and we think eating in nature is wonderful – regardless of the season.

How important is it for you to find the food yourself?
Finding something that you can eat in nature makes the experience special and even more delicious. Food just tastes better when you forage or catch it yourself. It’s about the experience, but also because the fresher the ingredients, the better they taste! Catching a fish and grilling it on the beach just tastes better than if you put it in the freezer and thaw it again three weeks later. Sourcing your own ingredients for your dinner – whether from nature, your own garden or from your local farmer – is hugely satisfying, and the food tastes better.

“My best advice is to make it as simple as possible. The simplest foods are going to taste amazing when you make them outdoors.”

How do you cook food outdoors?
Cooking over a campfire is cool and intimate. It imparts the flavours of smoke and wood, and it’s just amazing. Many of the best restaurants have set up campfires because all chefs are on the lookout for unique flavours right now, and the campfire flavour is certainly that. Food cooked over a campfire is something that can’t be replicated. Anyone can buy a great stove, but the end product will be the same. A campfire is more uncontrollable and unique. Plus building a campfire is really cosy – sitting together around it brings people together, and you can do it in any season.
How do you get started with campfire cooking?
My best advice is to make it as simple as possible. The simplest foods are going to taste amazing when you make them outdoors. One easy idea is to bring some eggs from home and fry them in a pan over a campfire. Grate a little good-quality cheese over it and garnish with plenty of fried spring onions or fresh herbs. In the autumn, fried chanterelles and ceps are delicious. You can also make dough at home and cook flatbreads over the fire. It’s generally a good idea to do some preparation at home in the kitchen and bring along a knife, some tea towels and a few dishcloths.

What else can you cook over a campfire?
You can cook almost anything over a campfire, but if you’re on the beach, you can catch fish or pick some mussels. Mussels can be steamed in a saucepan with some white wine. A freshly-caught fish can be wrapped in a wet newspaper and placed directly on the embers to cook. The water in the newspaper steams the fish and protects it from the flames. In most cases, the fish is ready to eat when the newspaper becomes dry and the edges begin to burn. For a truly simple meal, enjoy the fish with a salad. Vegetables such as beetroot, leeks and onions can be roasted directly in the embers and peeled and eaten when cooked.

What is your top tip for cooking in nature?
Do exactly what you feel like doing. Experiment and make sure to keep things simple.

What kind of wild ingredients can be foraged?
During summer, nature offers a host of wild ingredients that can be foraged and used in delicious summer dishes. Here is Mikkel Karstad’s guide to a selection of ingredients that you can forage in nature during the summer months:

Chanterelles, rose hips, rapeseed flowers, elderflowers, wild horseradish, water mint and wild watercress.