Anchovies or little sprats
Ansjovis is normally translated to English as anchovies, but they are rather different to Mediterranean anchovies. Really they are little sprats and they are normally cured in a spiced brine and sold as fillets in tins, but you can also get whole sprats in glass jars.
Sardeller (Mediterranean anchovies) are cured differently and are quite spicy and salty. In Sweden, Sardeller are used pretty much in the same way as everywhere else with capers and olives on pizza and in salads etc.
Ansjovis have a sweeter, milder taste than Mediterranean anchovies, so they are not really interchangeable in recipes.
You can buy ansjovis at specialist stores or online. They are also sold at IKEA where they are more correctly labelled as skarpsill.
Although ansjovis are sold in tins they must be stored in a fridge and you need to keep an eye on the use by date as they have a much shorter shelf life than most tinned foods.
Most tins of ansjovis are bought to make Janssons Frestelse (Jansson's Temptation) which is a kind of fishy potato gratin. It is a popular item on julbord (Christmas buffets) and all kinds of special occasions. It is usually served as a side dish at parties, but it can also be served as a main course. It is made by combining julienned potatoes, onions, ansjovis, cream, topping with breadcrumbs and dotting with butter.
As with all national dishes families often have their own way of cooking it with some preferring it to be very creamy and others liking it to be drier and with a crisp topping. We think our version strikes the right balance, but add more cream if you would prefer a creamier version!
Old Man's Mix
Gubbröra (Old Man's Mix) is another popular way of using ansjovis. It is an easy dish to prepare as it is really just a mixture of ansjovis, chopped hard boiled egg and onion.
I sometimes add some ansjovis to some Västerbottensost palmiers (cheese palmiers). They make attractive appetisers for a party and are a good way of using up any leftover ansjovis.
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SwedishFood.com is run by a not-for-profit company set up to help English speakers around the world who would like to learn more about Swedish food. If you like the site please help us to promote it and bring Swedish food to a bigger audience by following us on: