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
- Table salt
- 1 cup of white wine vinegar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
- 1 - 2 sprigs of fresh dill finely chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- I leave the peel on 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.
- This is really simple to make and goes especially well with pork.