Holy mackerel!

Summer salad features fish and potatoes


Photo: www.matprat.no
This satisfying salad combines smoked mackerel, boiled new potatoes, and salad greens with a creamy horseradish dressing.

Christy Olsen Field
Taste of Norway Editor

When the temperature starts to climb in the summer, I look for meals that don’t require an oven. And if a recipe highlights the fresh seasonal produce from the farmers market or my garden, I will make it again and again.

Enter varm salat med røkt makrell og poteter, a warm salad with smoked mackerel and boiled new potatoes, served with a creamy horseradish dressing and baby salad greens. It’s a deeply satisfying meal that comes together in 20 minutes.

I wasn’t too familiar with mackerel before I came across this recipe on MatPrat.no, one of my favorite sources for Norwegian recipes. My only mackerel exposure was makrell i tomat (mackerel in tomato sauce in a tin), one of the first things I learned about as a student in Norway, as a pålegg (topping) for open-faced sandwiches.

Mackerel is a popular fish in Norway. It is native to the cold waters of the North Atlantic, and spawns off the southern coast of Norway.

The premium catch season for mackerel is September to November, when the mackerel shoals return from their feeding grounds in the Norwegian Sea to spawn. This is when the mackerel’s fat content is at its highest (around 30%), and it retains its succulent, rich flavor when grilled or smoked.

The Norwegian Seafood Council notes that consumers run a low risk of ingesting any environmental contaminants, as mackerel has an integral place in the natural ecosystem, feeding on plankton and smaller fish.

When I was testing this recipe, it was surprisingly hard for me to find smoked mackerel! Salmon reigns as king in the Pacific Northwest, and I called eight grocery stores to find smoked mackerel at Whole Foods.

So if you aren’t able to find smoked mackerel, you can substitute smoked sardines in oil or smoked salmon (though the flavor will be a little different).

Boiled new potatoes are a typically Norwegian accompaniment, and they are especially delicious when paired with the mackerel, fresh salad greens, and this zippy horseradish dressing. It has great crunch from the sliced radishes and red onion (the raw bite is tamed by the creamy dressing), and it is filling enough to be a light summer meal.

Warm Salad with Smoked Mackerel and Potatoes

Adapted from MatPrat.no for the American kitchen by Christy Olsen Field

1 lb. small potatoes

1 cup crème fraîche

½ tbsp. freshly grated horseradish (or substitute 1–2 tbsps. creamed horseradish sauce, as I did)

zest and juice of one lemon

½ tsp. sugar, or to taste

salt & pepper

8 oz. baby salad greens (about 8 cups)

6-8 oz. hot-smoked mackerel, flaked into bite-size pieces

½ red onion, thinly sliced

4 radishes, thinly sliced

2 tbsps. fresh dill, finely chopped

Cook potatoes in boiling water until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Strain and cool slightly, and slice in half.

Meanwhile, whisk together crème fraîche, horseradish, lemon zest and juice, and sugar in a small bowl. Taste for a balance of flavors: the heat of the horseradish should be tempered by the crème fraîche. Season to your liking with salt and pepper.

In a salad bowl or on a sheet pan, combine potatoes, salad greens, mackerel, red onion, and radish. Drizzle with dressing, and toss so each component has dressing. Garnish with fresh dill. Serve with additional dressing at the table.

Christy Olsen Field became the Taste of Norway Editor in April 2019. An enthusiastic home cook and baker, she lives north of Seattle with her husband and two young sons. She is a grantwriter for small nonprofits in the Seattle area. Write to her at food@na-weekly.com.

This article originally appeared in the July 12, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.