There’s something so Nordic and satisfying about this: boiled potatoes and smoked fish. Simple, but delish. Wholesome yet zesty, combined as one. Kind of like the Nordic pop princess, Robyn herself, whose beats I can’t resist bopping to, especially if I hear them on a car trip and my body is bored and just needs to move—a lot, and suddenly, thanks to her.
It turns out that one of my best friend’s baby felt the same way in the womb, because she just started moving around (or “dancing on her own“) when her mom started singing along to Robyn in the car one day. Since hearing about this, I’ve been on a mission to convince my friend to name her baby girl Robyn (or Robin, the proper spelling, is fine, too). Because come on, I didn’t pick this name, she did—the baby, that is.
In any case, the weather-hardy Viking must have had it pretty alright with a combo like boiled potatoes and smoked fish, I think. It’s a meal for the mighty, packed with fish fats and filling carbs. It doesn’t have to be a meal, though—have it as a side like plain old potato salad at a picnic or barbecue this spring (before more warm-weather fruits and vegetables come into season). Or make yourself a simple green salad to pile underneath it, as a lunch.
You could also use any type of smoked or pickled fish that strikes your fancy here—some herring or kippers, perhaps, or smoked trout or mackerel. These oilier species, like bluefish, which is what I found smoked by my local fishmonger, taste spectacular once preserved and spread their love all around in your salad.
Small pickled things are nice additions to the potatoes and fish. I went with capers, because I’m still working off a huge batch of them given to me by the same friend whose baby is kicking when she was in Greece last fall. Some chopped pickled gherkins or cornichons (or your own homemade pickled bits of carrot, celery, red onion or shallot, peppers or fennel?) are perfectly fine instead. These tiny bursts of piquant pickled-ness add a lovely texture to the salad, too.
Similarly, you could go with dill or parsley for that fresh allure of herbs instead of chives, which I minimally grabbed alone while at the Greenmarket (but have planted some still-young seedlings of basil, mint and parsley). Tartness from fresh lemon is just as important, too, in brightening the dish. I skipped the thick mayonnaise to bind the salad together this time, opting instead for just olive oil. But you could always add a dab of that (or crème fraiche) for a more creamy effect.
Any way you dice it or spice it, this combination just wants to be eaten together, smoked fish and potatoes. Just like Laena’s baby wants to be united somehow with her soon-to-be namesake.
Potato and Smoked Bluefish Salad
(makes about 4 servings)
2 lbs potatoes, any kind
about 1/2 lb smoked fish (such as smoked bluefish or trout), flaked to big chunks with a fork
2 tablespoons capers
1 bunch chives, chopped (or substitute with parsley or dill)
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons smooth mustard, such as Dijon
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
Rinse the potatoes and halve them lengthwise, or until pieces are roughly the same size. Cover with lightly salted water and bring to a boil; cook until tender and drain. Let cool thoroughly and cut into bite-size wedges.
Combine the lemon juice and mustard in a bowl. Stir in the olive oil slowly, and stir in the capers and chopped chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Combine the potatoes and dressing and toss to coat thoroughly. Fold in the smoked fish, taste again for seasoning, and serve. (Can be chilled for up to 2 days before serving.)
(for about 4 servings)
2 lbs potatoes: $2.00
½ lb smoked bluefish (at $6.99/lb): $3.50
2 tablespoons capers: $1.00
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil: $0.50
1 lemon: $0.25
2 teaspoons mustard, salt, pepper: $0.25
Five brownie points: Oily, darker-fleshed fish like bluefish (and mackerel, herring, anchovies, etc.) are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are so lacking in the average American diet. This has been found to improve heart health and reduce inflammation. But since the smoked fish is preserved with salt, you’ll want to go easy on sodium in the rest of the ingredients. No worry, you won’t need it after mixing in the fish.
Six maple leaves: If you’re trying to pick one of the most sustainable fish in the market, one easy tip is choosing fish you’ve heard or seen little about. I rarely see recipes or menu courses touting bluefish (although it’s really great fresh, too). Bluefish is local to my coast, caught from Long Island, but if you’re not from these parts, talk up your local fishmonger to see what their less-appreciated local specialties are.