In our pursuit for quick, easy, and dare I say it….. darn tasty (admittedly those not into pickled herring may strongly disagree) meals during the lock-down, Marlini intimated that a potato salad could be a great idea. For me to make, of course! I also had to fire up 1981 The Visitors album by ABBA whilst writing this – it will all make sense later on, I promise…
Whilst panic buying has resulted in a large number of ingredients being stripped from the shelves, we have yet to encounter (in the UK at least) any difficulty in purchasing potatoes. As far as ingredients go, they are real keepers as the regularly out-live their best before date. Some countries are reporting a potato surplus – so much so the potato farmers from our neighbouring Belgium are urging people to eat more chips. Now, if it is chips you want to make from scratch at home without a deep fat fryer, check out my Chunky Chips with Herbs and Balsamic Vinegar recipe. Alternatively, just stick to the end of this post for a really tasty potato salad recipe which is so quick and easy to make.
Incidentally, I do have a very close affinity to Belgium. Not only do I have great appreciation of their cuisine (and no, not just chips drowned in mayo, and chocolate – and never together!). Belgium is also home to my employer Actito – the marketing automation specialist. I would like to make a small shout out to all my colleagues and their families during these more challenging times. A dish using potatoes and mayonnaise should hopefully be easy ingredients to source ;o)
Up until quite recently, I must admit that I had not been a huge fan of potato salad … largely for the reason that it consisted of boiled potatoes inundated with lashings of often very commercial mayonnaise. There was very little else to write home about in the taste or flavour department. Even the most popular brands contain close to 80% Rapeseed oil, water, and less than 8% egg. I didn’t want to make mayonnaise from scratch – I find this too heavy and the flavour too intense for what I was trying to achieve. Then, purely by chance whilst navigating myself through the largely barren supermarket shelves (during week two of lock down) I spotted Vegenaise.
I am first to admit that my natural instinct it to repelled from products which ultimately remove its core ingredient or expected benefit from it. Removing alcohol from wine, caffeine from coffee, or eggs from mayonnaise are activities which instantly trigger my innate cynicism. I mean, there are so many alternatives to each which can be equally tasty/ enjoyable. Yet, I was proven so wrong.
Vegenaise (pronounced “VEDGE-en-aise) is – really good. Equally, it is far from a new fad having been launched in 1977 – the year after I was born – by a bunch of bearded hippies in San Fernando Valley, California. If interested, you can read their story here. I am just so surprised it took me so long to discover it. Mea Culpa.
The ABBA Connection
As I opened with this post mentioning Abba, I thought it was now high time to provide a well overdue explanation. Whilst trying to find pickled herring, I found a Swedish brand called Abba Seafood who make a really good pickled herring in onion marinade. Whilst researching ingredients, I discovered that the name ABBA for the group was created following a competition in a Gothenburg newspaper: Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid = ABBA. Thus, the name was born. They had to ask permission from the Abba canning factory, who stated “O.K., as long as you don’t make us feel ashamed for what you’re doing”. Who’d have thought…one of the best selling music artists of all time shared their name with a seafood company.
By no means is the Abba brand essential for this recipe – we tried some other jarred pickled herring and this was our preferred one by far. Pickled herring is an acquired taste for many of us, I get it – but very popular in Scandinavia.
According to Try Swedish
“Did you also know that marinated herring from Abba is one of the few products that is a true must-have on the table on all the big holidays? Christmas, Easter, Midsummer – it doesn’t matter what season it is, the Swedes are absolutely crazy about their marinated herring fillets.”
My first encounter with pickled herring was in Denmark in my late teens, and it was an initial shock to the taste-buds both in terms of taste and texture. Perhaps nursing a hangover didn’t help when being thrust pickled raw herring under my nose…. but I have certainly grown to appreciate it.
Potato Salad with Picked Herring
I think you have suffered enough with my pickled herring history lesson – the main point of the recipe was the potato salad which I really hope you enjoy. It takes very little time, can be easily adapted, and will be a great accompaniment to a other meals (particularly those who really are repelled by fish). Whilst I have suggested using Vegenaise, of course it will work with other alternatives.
Finally, when we first made this (as photographed) we didn’t include apple and Aleppo pepper flakes to but I have to say it is now our preferred version as it adds a little heat and crisp sweetness from the Braeburn.
Potato Salad with Pickled Herring
- 750 g Charlotte salad potatoes, peeled, and cut into bite size chunks
- 1 unwaxed lemon, zest only
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 4 pickled cornichons, finely diced
- 3 tbsp Vegenaise, heaped
- 6 sprig fresh dill, finely chopped
- 140 g pickled herring, drained
- 1 tsp Aleppo Pepper
- ½ crisp Braeburn apple , finely diced
- First of all peel and chop the Charlotte potatoes into bite-sized pieces, and place in a medium sized pan. Cover with water, stir thoroughly, then discard the starchy water.
- Add cold water to the pan so that the potatoes are covered by an inch. Add a teaspoon of sea salt, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until cooked. Prod with a fork to test. Do not overcook, otherwise this will become more of a mash.
- Drain potatoes in a colander, return to saucepan and cover with lid.
- Whilst the potatoes are cooking, take out a medium sized bowl and add three generous heaped tablespoons of Vegenaise.
- Add the lemon zest, finely diced cornichons, finely diced red onion, chopped dill and mix thoroughly.
- (optional – if using, mix through the Aleppo Pepper and finely diced Braeburn apple at the same time as the other ingredients)
- Carefully add the warm cooked potatoes into the bowl, mixing thoroughly, making sure everything is evenly combined.
- Transfer to individual plates, and place 3-4 pieces of pickled herring on top. Enjoy.