Five minutes with Signe Johansen:Norwegian chef reveals why Brits should create Hygge in the kitchen

Signe Johansen offers tips on how Brits can embrace the Nordic lifestyle in their kitchens...

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With no English translation, Hygge (pronounced hue-gah) describes a warm, cosy and comfortable atmosphere. Norwegian chef Signe Johansen has partnered with Sainsbury's to encourage Brits to embrace the atmosphere in their kitchens. So, how can the Nordic state of mind transform a British kitchen? 

Hygge can fit into an everyday cooking routine.
Cooking is, by its nature, a hyggelig thing to do, so you don’t have to follow any rules to bring hygge into your cooking. 

But, if you're thinking of adapting a Nordic approach to cooking, I'd recommend keeping things simple. Spend a little time and effort stocking up on good ingredients such as bread, cured or smoked seafood and salty snacks to keep you going while you're cooking. 

I devote a section in my book How to Hygge on the kind of foods I keep in my kitchen to stave off those moments of feeling "hangry" - the rage which descends when you're tired and hungry! 

Venison meatballs with wild mushroom and chocolate sauce, with Sainsbury’s beetroot and potato Horseradish Mash is the perfect dish for a hygge-inspired dinner

What are your top tips for creating Hygge in the kitchen?
Make sure there are tidy surfaces, a well-stocked larder and fridge and a couple of succulent plants and herbs as uplifting greenery. 

A kitchen should feel like a space you'd like to spend time in. 

Why do you think the Brits should embrace Nordic living?
We share a love of nature and the outdoors, a fondness for a drink or two, and we do quite like our knitwear, but in the Nordic region the work-life balance is a lot healthier. 

Working long hours for no reason is regarded as a sign of inefficiency, so the approach is to work very diligently in the hours you need to and that way make sure you have more more time for fun things.

Do you have a favourite ingredient in Nordic cooking?
It would have to be some form of seafood. We love our fish, crabs, mussels and seafood chowders. You feel great eating seafood and it's delicious, so what more could you want? 

What do you make for yourself for a simple evening meal? And what do you make if you’re throwing a dinner party?
A simple evening meal could be anything from eggs on buttered toast with spinach, or an easy pasta. Sometimes, I'll throw a whole load of seasonal vegetables in a pan and roast them, to be served with rice and beans or couscous. 

Each month I do a big batch of something, whether it's bolognese or a stew, that can be frozen into portions. 

Informal get-togethers with friends and family tend to be more of a Scandi smørgåsbord in our household. I'll prepare a variety of dishes such as Nordic kale and Orkney crab salad, alongside a platter of gravlax and a range of breads, pickles and perhaps a warm dish.  

Is there a kitchen utensil or gadget you can’t live without?
One good, sharp chef's knife can do a multitude of things. You don't need to spend lots of money, but try a couple of different knives at a speciality store to get the feel of it.

London is full of different cuisines but what is your favourite restaurant in the capital?
Other than Nordic food, I adore Japanese food (actually I adore all cuisines, I'm a naturally greedy gal!) so I'd have to say Koya Bar on Frith Street in Soho. It's run by the phenomenal Shuko Oda and the food is always so full of flavour and nourishing. If you haven't tried their breakfast then give it a go!

  • Sainsbury’s have recently launched venison meatballs and ready-made beetroot mash in their Taste the Difference range. How to Hygge is out now. 

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