How to Make Danish Cucumber Salad at Home
I grew up eating sliced cucumber salad but we called it agurke salat (a-gorka sal-at) which is the Danish name. My mother being Danish would serve it to us as a side dish or on open faced sandwiches called smørrebrød. Just writing about these sandwiches is making my mouth water.
Smørrebrød sandwiches are as much art as they are a delicacy. I remember my mor mor (mother's mother or grandmother) taking her time to assemble a plate of these delicate sandwiches for lunch.
And when I was just a kid visiting her in Denmark, we would go to Tivioli Gardens where there was a shop that sold them individually.
She would let me pick out my favorites and then we would go sit somewhere in the park and dine. I can't wait to take my kids there when they get older. Some of these sandwiches used agurke salat as one of the ingredients.
When I tell friends about my Danish cucumber salad, I'm often told they know it but call it by another name native to their own ethnicity. I'm guessing it is a popular dish to all the northern Scandinavian countries and their neighbors.
There are two important steps when preparing this cucumber salad. First, slice the cucumbers paper thin. Second, salt them to remove, as my mother would say, “the burp” from them. Other than that, the rest is easy.
I like to make a big batch at a time and eat them all week long. I even use the vinegar mixture a second time and just slice and salt some more cucumbers.
Sliced Cucumber Salad (Agurke Salat)
- 3 large cucumbers
- 1 cup vinegar white wine
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 sprigs fresh dill finely chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- I leave the peel on the cucumbers, but you can peel them if you like. I find it makes them too flimsy if you cut them paper-thin. I used a food processor to slice them but you can use a mandolin or if you have a lot of patience, slice them by hand but be sure they are paper thin.
- Next I lay them out on some paper towels and sprinkle them with salt. I'm not sure if it is true, but my mom says the salting helps remove whatever is in the cucumbers that make them repeat on you. Let them sit there for about 10 minutes.
- After they have been salted, put them in a colander and wash all the salt off with cold water. If you don't get most of the salt off, the final result will be way too salty.
- Gently squeeze the sliced cucumbers in your hands to get rid of as much water as possible. You can let them drain in the colander while you make the vinegar mixture.
Prepare the Vinegar Mixture
- In a medium sized bowl that you are going to serve the cucumbers in, add the vinegar with the water, then the sugar and coriander seeds. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the cucumbers, dill and mix together with your hands or spoon if you don’t like to get your hands dirty.
- Cover and refrigerate for a few hours so the cucumbers pick up all the flavor of the sugared vinegar.
I was so excited when I saw the cucumber salad and open face sandwiches. I remember them when I was a child. I was born in Germany, I think our food must be similar to the Danish fare.
I love the cucumber salad and make it often.
I lived in Canada for fifty-four years and still make open faced sandwiches for my family. They love it also.
I look forwards to every article .
One of my favorite things to eat is cucumber salad! It's so refreshing! One time I tried making it with rice vinegar (because we were out of white wine vinegar and didn't have time to go to the store) and it came out terribly. So if you ever are tempted to use a different kind of vinegar, don't! Thanks for this post.
My mother used to make this and she just called it sliced cucumbers. Unfortunately my mother is no longer with us and I had lost my recipe for cucumber salad. I also add sliced onions to the salad and refrigerate it overnight. The vinegar acts on the onion to "cook" the onions to limp form.
Hello and thanks for the cucumber salad recipe. We love to eat them as they are refreshing and a cool salad in the hot Texas summer is great. One thing though.....
Why don't you seed the cucumbers, or suggest English Cukes with their digestible seed as well as a safe and healthy skin? Regular cukes are waxed on the outside and this isn't good to ingest which is why most people peel them before eating.
As a student of French cooking, no chef would ever serve cuke anything with seeds in. I realize you suggest the salting method to remove whatever it is that makes one ill, but why not just "slide on over" to another type vs. eating a variety that is well known to make many people experience indigestion?
Thanks, love your site!
I like cucumber salad with onions and sour cream, dill, salt and pepper.
It is great in the summer, or anytime.
I'm adddig my two bits to the agurke salad thread, rather late, having just now returned from abroad.
Among East European Jews, the "agurke" is prepared differently and is called called an "ugerke" , a sour pickle, and is served as a side dish.
Nice bog you have here. I pretty much lurk the internet when I'm bored and read all I can about the organic lifestyle, but I really liked you view on things. I'll bookmark the site and subscribe to the feed!
made it last night with 'hakkeboef''and even my 3 year old grandaughter loved t - I only use one cucomber at the time, but alway the english kind
I have made several versions of the vinegar, salt, sugar recipe with a twist..first salt and vinegar--slice cukes paper thin, but in bowl, flatten with a heavy bowl or dish. Leave 4-5 hours or overnight. Pour off the marianade and discard it; start dressing the cukes with the traditional dressing. The cukes become extremely crip and crunchy despite the fact that they look limp. "God Appetit!"
Cucumber salads are great food. We add salt to taste and coconut vinegar here in the Philippines, then hot, red chili, onions, garlic and ginger.
And sometimes we add fresh sliced fish (fish just caught from the sea) and call it "kinilaw".
Thanks for the suggestions Rudy. I've never even heard of coconut vinegar. I'll have to look for it. Sounds like your cucumber salad is a lot spicier than mine.
My favorite kind of Salad is none other than Potato Salad. it really taste yummy.
This is my favorite summer recipe - I remember watching my great-grandmother, who was from Copenhagen, slice the cucumbers paper thin - I tried thicker slices but went back to paper thin - the flavor & texture is more like I remember. I also add a smidge of fresh grated nutmeg & dill. And I add a few thinly sliced onions.
I think the salt removes the excess water in the cucumbers so it does not dilute the vinegar which helps to preserve them. I love this salad, in fact I just got finished slicing & salting about 15 cucumbers from my garden. My whole family will be getting some.
Thanks for that, I lived in Denmark in 1970s and I still remember the delicious open sandwiches and especially the cucumber salad. I will make it tomorrow and can't wait to taste it again.
Hi Arlo, you are very welcome and enjoy your sandwiches. - RG
Thank you for writing about this, proper name too! 🙂 I spent my summers in Iowa and my Grandma would always make this. As a kid I thought it was crazy looking (I grew up in Chicago) but it is delicious! The cucumbers have an unusual twang that's just to die for! On a side note, I had seen on a travel show that the Danes will even put this on their hot dogs. Don't know if I'm willing to try that...lol
Hi Amy, I'm finding lots of people who ate this as kids and are now making it for their own children. Thanks for posting. - RG
Both my parents were born of Danish emigrants and we had agurke salat and several other Danish dishes all the time. Mom was an excellent cook. I make this in the summer a lot. I tend to go overboard with the onions and also ad a tiny bit of garlic.
Some party pumpernickel, a couple of hard boiled eggs, some fresh danish cheese, anchovies and a little wine!
Tuk Famma (I'm sure it's not spelled right but ""thanks for the meal")
You are welcome Chris, thanks for sharing. - RG
just an fyi regarding the cucumber seeds - they are full of beneficial vitamins and minerals - as are all fruit and vegetable seeds - and since they do not really have a flavor, it's a great idea to eat them and gain all the fiber/cleansing benefits as well!
Thanks so much for posting this. I haven't had a taste of Agurke Salat since my mother passed many years ago. I will give it a try.
Thank you so much for this recipe! My father, whom I miss terribly, used to make it all the time. Although he was Czech, he and my mother married in Sweden and he had a wonderful Swedish cookbook (unfortunately in Swedish, so it does me no good even though I cherish it!).
You are very welcome Michele. - RG
Thank you for this recipe! It was the perfect accompaniment to our gluten-free grilled chicken dinner, which also featured quinoa salad One note: I almost added more coriander seed because I thought the teaspoon called for seemed wimpy faced with such a large amount of sliced cukes, however, I did not and thank goodness! The coriander flavor was distinct and perfect.
Tak for mad. We said this after every meal in our house growing up in Canada. Dad originally from Aalborg area made a lot of Danish food, but in the summer this was a favourite. Didn't know about rinsing after salting and draining. I shall try this!!
I went to Austria when I was 16. This was my favorite dish my host mom made. I can't wait to try it! Thanks
I was wondering how long this salad will last. I’d like to serve it at book club at the end of the month but have many cukes from my garden now.
So glad to have found your blog. Happy to find many recipes for wonderful meals my Danish mother made but I never wrote down. One I did write down was agurker salat. She told me to salt the cucumber to remove moisture so as not to dilute the marinade. I would think rinsing the salt off would introduce more moisture again. I've never found her version salty. She used English cucumbers as do I. Many thanks for helping me recreate my mom's amazing culinary and cultural feasts.
G. Stephen Jones
Hi Margaret, thanks for reaching out. My mom told me to salt the cucumbers to get the "burp" out of them. And yes, do rinse or they would be inedible.