Jansson's Temptation


Makes 8 servings

3 2oz tins flat anchovies in olive oil
3 large (8oz) onions
2 lb russet potatoes
1 pint cream
2 Tablespoons butter
black pepper to taste

Special equipment

Mandolin, V-hobel, or food processor, unless you have the time to slice the vegies by hand


hile you preheat your oven to 425°, grease a 13x9 pan with some of the butter. Slice potatoes about ⅜" thick. Slice onions more thinly. Line your baking dish with half of the potatoes, then half the onions. Criss-cross with all the anchovy strips, and drizzle with half of the anchovy oil. Spin a grind or two of black pepper across the top, then layer the remaining onions, then the remaining potato slices. Drizzle the remaining anchovy oil and a cup of the cream. Dot with remaining butter and spin another grind of pepper across the top.

Stick in the oven and bake 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375° and, after half an hour, add the remaining cream. Some of the original cream will have curdled around the edges, but that’s expected. Bake another half hour or until lightly browned on top.


We don’t know who this Jansson fellow was, but we sure see why he was tempted; the aroma of the dish is irresistable. If your patrons don’t know that there are anchovies in the dish, you won’t have any leftovers.

As Helene Tursten describes the dish in her Swedish thriller The Torso, how could you not want to try it? A common Scandavian late-night munchy, it makes a great brunch dish or lunch. Our recipe is a slight variation of another winner by Jane Grigson. She points out that the Swedes don’t use canned anchovies, but pickled spriced sprats, which she detests. Never having tasted Scandanavian pickled sprats, we cannot testify to how authenticity would affect the flavour of the dish. While a fan of all sorts of pickled fish, all we can say is that in using canned anchovies as she recommends, her dish was wildly received by our American testers and needs no modification.

It’s a note that gets backlinked.