Part of why I began cooking was to explore my Scandinavian heritage. I’m fourth-generation, where enough time has passed that the stories of my great-grandmother’s plättars (Swedish pancakes) and fruktsoppa (fruit soup) are still vibrant, yet no one knows how to make them. The recipe cards lost to a cardboard box or a move, to too much time. It was really when I pulled the old plättar pan out of my mother’s basement that I realized – food is the quickest way to the heart of a culture.
Since the winter holidays are on us, we’ll start with something often found on the Scandinavian holiday table, sillsallad. Sillsallad is a traditional dish of smoked herring, red beets, potatoes, apples, onion, and pickled cucumber. It’s bright and cheery,the beets turning the entire dish a vibrant shade of red. Traditionally, it also involves a bit of cream, however I prefer the sharper taste of the mustard in the dish.
Careful who you let around it, I found half of the dish gone before I could even photograph it.
beet & smoked herring potato salad
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into approximately 1 inch cubes
1 apple, preferably a Granny Smith, finely diced.
3 beets, ends cut off
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. chopped dill
1 medium white onion, finely diced
6 oz. smoked herring (if you can only locate sprats, they will work as well), ground into a pate
1/4 cup diced sweet gherkin
Fill a large pot halfway with salted water and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and beets and cook approximately 15-20 minutes, until both are tender and easily penetrated with a knife. Remove from heat and drain. The beet skins should now be loose and able to be slid off. Remove skins and cut beets into a large dice. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until potatoes and beets are broken down and mixture has turned a deep red and is completely combined.