Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Janssons Temptation (an amazing surprise)

If you've never had Jansson's Temptation (aka Janssons frestelse), then you're in for a pleasant surprise. But first you've got to get past the ingredients.

Janssons Temptation (2of2)

I first heard about Jansson's Temptation from Chris ... any time we'd talk about Sweden or visit IKEA, he'd go on and on about this dish. All I knew at the time was that it was some potato dish with anchovies - and given that Chris likes pickled herring (another big Swedish thing) - I never really gave the dish much thought (to put it bluntly I didn't think it sounded very tempting at all!).

Then, last year, we found ourselves in an IKEA (in Australia). We were in heaven. Now, I thought everybody knew IKEA has a food section, but I was just recently talking with some friends and mentioned this and was surprised to find they had no clue about the food section in IKEA. If you've never been - go. Smoked salmon, tubes of roe, pickled herring, crackers & biscuits, and numerous other delights await. On our last visit Chris and I were perusing around, practically drooling, when we spotted a Swedish cookbook. It was only $4 and the first recipe listed was Jansson's Temptation! While still not convinced about this dish, we purchased the cookbook and some Sprats (more on sprats later).


Luckily those little tinned sprats last a long time, because I never got up the courage to make the dish ... until a few days ago. Jansson's temptation is a Swedish casserole made up of potatoes, onions, sprats, and cream. Until you've tasted it, it might be hard to find it appealing. The key is the sprats - and it's something you'd never realize unless you knew the difference between a Swedish Sprat and an Anchovy. I didn't. I'd always thought the dish called for anchovies, but upon further research and actually opening the sprats from IKEA, I learned that it is a common mistranslation (using anchovies instead of sprats). This is because sprats, a herring-like oily fish pickled in sugar, salt and spices, are known in Sweden as "ansjovis" (while true anchovies are sold in Sweden as "sardeller"). I tasted the juice from the sprats and was surprised to find not a hint of fishy flavor, but rather a blend of spices that reminded me of Christmas (think cinnamon, cloves and cider).

Enough rambling - on with the recipe. BTW - once you fall in love with this dish you'll want to make double, as it can be frozen (see below for freezing / re-heating directions).

5-6 potatoes
2-3 large onions, thinly sliced
2-3 100g (3.5 oz) tins Ansjovis (Swedish style sprats), reserve the liquid.
(If hesitant about the flavor start with one tin, but I guarantee after your first time you'll be using 2 or 3 tins!)
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 - 2 cups of heavy cream (more to preference)

Peel the potatoes and cut into matchstick-size strips (roughly grated, mandolin slicer, or thin french-fry sized strips all work as well).

Saute the onions gently in the butter until they are golden brown.

Lightly grease a low, wide baking dish and put alternate layers of potato, ansjovis, and onion; beginning and ending with a layer of potato. Pour over half the cream, the reserved liquid from the ansjovis, and dot with a few knobs of butter. (You can also salt & pepper the layers, to taste - careful with the salt as the ansjovis are already quite salty).

Bake at 400 F (200-225 C) for about 45 minutes. Half-way through (20 minutes) pour over the remaining cream. The amount of liquid varies and may need to be adjusted - should be creamy and moist but not wet and runny* (see note at bottom).

The potatoes should be soft and the top nicely browned. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 4. (Freezing instructions below photos)

The final results (click filmstrip or slideshow icon on the bar to load):

Whether making double, or separating into two dishes this is a great freezer dish. After baking let cool and wrap tightly to freeze. Thaw completely before heating; cover with foil and heat at 400 F until hot & bubbly. Check your liquid - you may need to add a little more cream during the reheat.

When I made this dish I used two pans; one we ate right away and the other I froze. The first eating Chris reported that it was excellent, but when he'd eaten it in Sweden it was "more creamy". So, when I heated the second dish I added more cream during the cooking. You'll notice this in the photographs - one looks a bit more creamy than the other. I thought both versions were delicious - it's really a matter of personal preference (and how clogged you'd like your arteries to be!).


Welcome to My Galley, where you'll find an array of recipes and food bits. Having traveled to 23 countries in the last five years I lean towards Intl cuisines, but you'll find a few home-town favorites as well.
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