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The One Secret Ingredient Chef Marcus Samuelsson Can't Live Without

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Marcus Samuelsson is known for his creativity in the kitchen, combining traditional fine-dining cuisine with a touch of soul, and his portfolio of comfort-food restaurants stretch from New York City to Bermuda to Stockholm.

He credits his international upbringing as inspiration for his cuisine, and a “secret” ingredient as the key to many of his dishes.

Born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, Samuelsson adds his global influences into every dish he cooks, and the results can be surprising. His favorite ingredient is fermented herring, a regular staple in Swedish dishes. The fish is aged between one and three years, giving it an unmistakable aroma.

“It makes kimchi smell like Christian Dior perfume,” Samuelsson told Travel + Leisure, “but a little bit of it can be addictive.”

Samuelsson adds the fermented fish to his potato gratin – a traditional Swedish dish also called Jansen's Temptation – for a little kick, and to his fish fritters for a little complexity.

He says the fermented fish gives depth to his dishes that's impossible to achieve any other way, and that the unique flavor simply tastes “amazing.” He admits, however, that it's an acquired taste.

“When you open the can of fish for the first time, it's a pretty sour smell,” said Samuelsson. ”It's like the fish is saying hello to the world and it can take some time to get used to it.”


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