I grew up in Minnesota with Scandinavian parents and was exposed to truly unique and delicious foods. Two items that are closely related to Minnesota are hotdishes and lutefisk. Hotdishes are basically casseroles and lutefisk is salted whitefish soaked in a lye solution. Alright, you say, where could this craziness possibly be heading to? Well, these two items weirdly make me think of a hearty dish called Jansson’s Temptation. Jansson’s Temptation (pronounced yan-SON) is a creamy casserole that consists of sprats (tiny fish pickled in salt and vinegar), potatoes, onions, cream, and breadcrumbs. I like to add a few briny capers for a more pickled flavor. This dish is pure comfort during cold winter months and is often seen on the holiday dinner table as a luscious side dish.
If you are a fan of tinned fish you will really enjoy this comforting dish. The buttery panko topping adds a nice crunch. It is an interesting treat that will get the guests talking.
As stated, this dish is traditionally made with sprats. Sprats are a type of tiny brined fish often sold canned just like sardines. They are not easy to find in my neck of the woods so I substitute sardines or anchovies that taste just as delicious. Some may gasp at my use of other tinned fish and if you really want an authentic experience sprats can be found online on sites such as Amazon.
Serves 4 people as a side dish
1 tin sardines, anchovies, or sprats, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 medium white onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin strips
1 tsp capers, drained
1 large russet potato
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Optional sage or parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter shallow baking dish. Toss tinned fish, onion, and capers in baking dish.
Peel potatoes and cut into thick matchsticks (I like to use a mandoline slicer with a julienne blade attachment). Arrange potatoes over fish and onions and sprinkle with salt, and pepper.
Pour heavy cream evenly over potatoes.
Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are almost fully tender when pierced with a fork.
Stir melted butter and panko bread crumbs together. Remove foil from dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumb mixture.
Bake, uncovered, until potatoes are tender and top is golden, about 10 minutes more. Watch to ensure that bread crumbs do not blacken and tent with foil if necessary. Ensure that potatoes are tender by piercing with a skewer.
Remove from oven. Garnish with optional sage or parsley for color. Serve hot or at room temperature.