Scandinavian Christmas Recipes: Jansson’s Frestelse

Foto: Martin Löf

Foto: Martin Löf

Complete your Julbord this year with a steaming dish of Jansson’s Frestelse with its inviting aromas at the table. Truly a comfort food, the addition of Swedish “anchovies” gives this potato casserole-like dish a mild salty-sweet fish flavour.

A word on “anchovies”: Don’t mistake “anchovies” for the usual variety we’re accustomed to, the little Italian fish which is very oily and strong tasting. “Anchovies” in this case is, according to, ‘spiced-cured sprat fillets’. Here in Greater Vancouver, Jolly Foods in North Vancouver carries them. We’ve tried making this dish with regular pickled herring (sill) when we’ve been unable to find Swedish anchovies. It works in a pinch but it’s just not the same. We even made it with Italian anchovies. Once. ‘Nuff said about that.

A word on cutting the potatoes: Julienne the potatos. There are a couple of ways to do this, you can cut it by hand, and if you’re not sure how, here’s a good tutorial from Mahalodotcom. Or you could use a mandoline slicer with the julienne attachment. It’s fast and easy to use.

And now, without further ado, from the cookbook The Cooking of Scandinavia:


To serve 4 to 6

7 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into strips 2 inches long and 1/4 inch thick
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 to 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced (4 cups)
16 flat anchovy fillets, drained
White pepper
2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4-inch bits
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the potato strips in cold water to keep from discoloring. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet; when the foam subsides, add the onions and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are soft but not brown.

With a pastry brush or paper towel, spread a 1 1/2- to 2-quart soufflé dish or baking dish with the remaining half tablespoon of butter. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry with paper towels. Arrange a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the dish and then alternate layers of onions and anchovies, ending with potatoes. Sprinkle each layer with a little white pepper. Scatter bread crumbs over the top layer of potatoes and dot the casserole with the 2 tablespoons of butter cut into bits. In a small saucepan, heat the milk and cream until it barely simmers, then pour over the potatoes. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the top of a sharp knife and the liquid is nearly absorbed.


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