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December 09, 2012

Christmas Recipe: Jansson's Temptation (Potato gratin with anchovy sprats)

Janssons frestelse-0128 sml

This dish is a funny one.  Why?  because so many people have tried to translate the recipe to English and failed on one significant point:  the anchovies used are not really anchovies at all, they are sprats.

So why do the Swedes call them anchovies?  Well, we're not sure but we do know it stems right back to the 18th century.  It kinda stuck.  We don't use the proper achovy fillets but instead a fish called Sprattus Sprattus (so good they named him twice?).  The way we can it and pickle it is also different to that of anchovies normally found in jars in the UK and other places.

So, if you're going to make this dish, you're going to need some Sprattus Sprattus - here's what a common tin will look like:


Here's the recipe - super easy and so very delicious.

Janssons frestelse - Jansson’s Temptation

This is a gratin-style dish that everyone in Sweden knows well. Never make the mistake of using anchovies, as many English-language recipes suggest. The Swedish word ‘ansjovis’ actually means sprats, not anchovies. Whoever originally translated it that way condemned many a poor person to a very salty dish! This recipe should be enough for six people.


- 9-10 medium-sized potatoes

- 1 whole onion

- 1½ tins of Grebbestads Ansjovis, to give you about 20 sprat fillets (these are the real deal, and you need them for the best results)

- 150ml single cream

- 150ml whole milk

- 2 tbsp butter

- 1 tbsp dried breadcrumbs


- Preheat the oven to around 200°C.

- Peel the potatoes and chop them into small ½cm piece sticks - a bit thinner than French fries.

- Slice the onion finely.

- Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and cook until soft. Take care not to burn the onion - it should be cooked, but not turning black.

- Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes to kick off the cooking process.

- Layer half of the onion and potato mixture in the bottom of an ovenproof dish, then top with 10 sprat fillets evenly across. Season with salt and pepper.  

- Add another layer of onion and potato, then another 10 sprats on top. Pour the remaining sprat juice over the dish.

- Pour two-thirds of the milk and cream (mix together) over the dish, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Season again.

- Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked. Halfway through the cooking time, add the rest of the milk/cream. If the dish is looking dry, you can add more milk and cream - the aim is to get a creamy consistency.

- Serve as part of a traditional Swedish smörgåsbord.




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