Most children and grandchildren of Finnish immigrants remember mojakka as a regular part of the family diet. Those memories are often comforting, much like any involving family and food. Others, however, remember "fish heads floating in the soup" and would prefer to forget.
a couple from Al Salmi, Rapid River, Michigan
I was in the third or fourth grade attending my rural elementary school in Rock, Michigan where I grew up.
I always enjoyed hot lunch but one day in the "hot lunch line", I noticed our meal that day was going to be "Mojakka".
Happily I proclaimed the good news to classmates further back in the line. Now my little town was about half Finnish with a substantial minority of kids with French and Belgium origins.
My excitement over the menu that day was shattered by shouts of derision from the Non-Finn kids that the meal we were about to be served was something called "STEW"! I, being an argumentive child from early on, KNEW I was right in calling it Mojakka and it nearly caused a full blown battle in the lunchroom that day.
Little did any of us know that we were all correct!
My dear old Aunt Ida had a perfectly wonderful recipe for Kalla Mojakka. Now this was usually only prepared in the heat of summer during hay making season when my father, brother and I were required to help in the fields.
At noon we would come into the house, sweaty and covered with prickly hay seed. There, on Aunt Ida's overheated
wood stove, would be the predictable roiling pot of fish stew or Kalla Mojakka. Auntie didn't waste her filets on soup, so by this time wide eyed fish heads could be counted on popping up to the surface. It was made with milk, cornstarch, whole black peppers, potatoes, carrots, lots of onion and of course the meaty fish heads. It sounds unimaginably gross today, yet to eveyone from the hayfield it was absolutely delicious. It was always served with crusty freshly baked bread.
Poor Aunt Ida! She must have had a tougher day in the kitchen than us guys in the field.
I was looking for Finnish recipes and came across your site. The HOITO in Thunder Bay, Ontario, is one place we always eat at when we return home. The mojakka at the Hoito is the very same recipe and method my mother used to make when I grew up there. Your site is great and I will be checking it regularly. My mother always said you should use Northern Pike for your kalamojakka, including the head.