Suupi – Experiment in recreating a fantasy recipe

So in the interest of having well rounded cultures for the World of Entorais I have established local culinary delights for several of the detailed cultures. One such dish is:

Suupi – Iskander

Suupi is a milk-broth chowder with pot roots, cubed whole fish, scallops, and fermented kelp. This particular dish is only served in the Isk Archipelago, or on-board Iskandean ships, and alongside a hearty dark grained bread with a mug of the dry pear-cider Apetil, it is a signature dish of Iskander. Different cooks may argue as to which fish are better than others, but generally any bony white-meat fish is used.

Sharing this in response to a worldbuilding challenge on Reddit generated some excellent Q & A:

Q: What kind of milk is commonly used?
A: Teica milk is most common, a rich creamy milk. Cebuc milk tends to pick up flavours from the plants eaten by the animals, and given their propensity to eat nearly anything, can sometimes be off-tasting. Rabbuc have few species hardy enough for the wet climate of the islands, but there are a few, and when available their milk will be more often used for cheese making.

Q: Is fermented kelp a common food in the Isk Archipelago?

A: It is a regional preference (something like sauerkraut), the wetter climate proves to be challenging to making dried seaweed. Fermenting is different from pickling mind you.

Q: With the suupi being mostly seafood products, why isn’t it also cooked in other coastal regions close to Iskander?

A: Probably the fermented kelp. Most coastal areas around Entorais will have sea food chowders amongst their dishes. Few foreigners like the particular melange of tastes that define suupi.

Q: Have Iskandeans (or foreigners) come up with some cool modified foreign recipes with fermented kelp added in?

A: There is one fellow, a Waejiran immigrant, and proprietor of a tavern who has tried to blend Iskandean tastes with recipes from his homeland. Curries and other spicy dishes adapted to locally available seafood including the fermented kelp; it is a work in progress still.

Q: Are the spices required for those foods actually grown in the Isk Archipelago?

A: Aethios imports most of the spices he requires from his former homeland of Waejir. Efforts to grow them in a local garden so far have failed completely, or produced an inferior product.

So in the interest of getting a deeper appreciation for my imaginary people and their strange ways I decided to try making suupi on my own.

It was simple enough to start with a chowder based on my father’s old kalamojakka recipe, which I still know how to make, and adapt a few other ingredients to simulate the texture and flavour of the fermented kelp:

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 2 lb of fish, cubed – traditional recipes toss in the head, and fins, skin and all – (I used a flank of salmon with the skin on)
  • 1/2 lb of scallops – I skipped these altogether as I didn’t feel like going to buy some just for the experiment in case I had to dump it out.
  • 2 cups of green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cups fermented kelp – an ingredient I didn’t have on hand so I faked the texture and flavour using (1 cup of dried black fungus – sourced from a local Asian grocer, comes cut in thin ribbons
    1 package of dried seaweed, chopped
    2 cups of fresh brewed coffee )
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Fill pot to cover ingredient with equal parts fresh milk and water
  • boil until potatoes are soft throughout and skin falls of the fish.

Like Aethios himself, I set the pot to boil and then simmer to mix the flavours. When finished I ladled myself a hearty bowl full and sat down to eat.

Suupi experiment – looks about right, taste… an acquired one.

8/10 will eat again, especially as I have about six quarts of the stuff to get through since I can’t seem to cook one-person meals. Not for the light of stomach or those with delicate palettes. I can say it was definitely close to what I expected. The sour seaweed flavour is noticeable enough to be off-putting to anyone not used to such flavours. The slightly chewy slippery texture from the black fungus certainly meets my imagined texture for the kelp it simulates.

I can certainly commiserate with my fictional tavern keeper, and his efforts to improve upon such a unique cultural dish to no avail.

“Bet Onei Stib Aiko Onei” – Grapes and Cheese


Aralian Sun Wine – a honey coloured wine which has unique refractory properties that amplify incident light causing the liquid to floresce. Specifically shaped glassware is used to further boost the visual. This wine is otherwise typical of white wines with a fruity bouquet pairing well with light meats and soft textured cheeses.

“Artolian? You mean Aralian… of course you do. How could you not? The famous amber liquid is renowned throughout the lands, not just for the sweet notes reminiscent of frost peach, or the euphoric rhapsody of flavours which tickle ones palette just so. No… you probably know it by its more common moniker, ‘Sun Wine’. The wine is renowned for the florescent glow when held in the bright light of a candle or the rays of the sun. It glows as if the sun itself dipped down and left some of its essence behind for you to enjoy in liquid form, all the golden flavour with none of the flame.” – Ca’nep Ronth, Aralian wine merchant

Nevtek – Mead fermeted from a jungle growing fruit similar to a papaya in size and flavour. Both the juice pressed from the fleshy fruit and nectar directly from the tree’s flowers are collected and blended with speciefic spices to give the drink a unique musky warm note. Nevtek keeps well, and it is generally considered better after five or more years of age.

“I am offended that you would accuse me of selling substandard goods my friend. We both know that the guild would have my thumbs and close my shop for such unfair practice. That jar contains nothing but the best nevtak nectar, hand squeezed, and fermented with only the finest kel spice. I dare say if you claim it to be inferior, that it is your palette that lacks substance, and certainly not my product. You will not find a purer produce than Raeos sells, anywhere in all of Waejiradur.” – Raeos, Waejiran wine merchant

Zei-pah – The Ru-Pani sea nomads ferment a drink called zei-pah. Every vu s’vin has a unique recipe or take on the beverage, but the common ingredient is sea water, fermented sea-plants, and plums/peaches, combined with special herbs known only to the Ru-Pani brewmasters. Most report it to have a bitter salty flavour with hints of honey and cherry. The turquoise liquid has fairly high alcohol content, and does seem to improve one’s night vision capabilities. The Ru-Pani purport that the drink grants good luck to the consumer, and as such is often used to toast new ventures, partnerships, and marriages.

“It’s not a trade, it is a cultural practice which all Ru-Pani participate in; either the brewing, or consuption thereof. As to pointers, I recommend getting a decent brewer, like myself, to guide you through your first few batches to ensure you are making it right, and understand the subtle cues given by the batch during the fermenting process. I don’t claim to be best, but I certainly am better than most. Experience and quality ingredients make a big difference. Even so, something as seemingly unrelated as the weather can affect the finished product.” – Z’al Kylee, a brewer of the Ru-Pani

Cheese – Throughout the nations of Entorais there are some many varieties of cheese that it is hard to categorize them fully. They vary in firmness, from spreadable soft curds to hard nearly moistureless bricks. The source, production methods, added ingredients, and methods of preservation further compound the efforts to catologue all cheeses.

“There is much debate between members of the Cheesepressers guild on which is better: Teica cheese, or Rabbuc Cheese. It tends to revolve around one’s personal palette. The former has a softer texture, and creamy sweet note, accented by various herbs. It is a excellent pairing with light breads, fruits, and summer wines. The latter makes much firmer cheese, generally smoked, and waxed to make suitable for travel. This type ages nicely, travels well, and is more often exported. It sharper flavours are generally paired with roasted meats and ales.” – Tiso, Tabrani cheesemonger