Danish Cold Potato Salad — "Kold Dansk Kartoffelsalat"

My mother-in-law makes the dressing for this potato salad using a product called Ymer, or A-38, or A-Tykmælk. For info on Ymer, see What the heck is Ymer? None of those ingredients listed above are available for purchase beyond the highly vigilant Customs police who patrol Denmark’s border. I’m not kidding. The Danes have even declared that our Marmite is contraband, “Ah pokkers,” as Danes who enjoy the flavours of Britain might well say. BBC Video – Marmite Ban

So as any creative ex-pat who can’t find familiar ingredients is apt to do, you start experimenting to find a reasonable facsimile. A combination of full-fat sour cream and mayonnaise (again, not reduced fat) produce a passable flavour and texture. Don’t use crème fraîche as a substitute for the sour cream because it’s too thick. The dressing needs a hint of sharpness, not creamy smoothness. Another ingredient that can’t be sourced outside of Denmark are proper Danish new potatoes. It’s the soil that produces that special flavour and gold colour. Jersey Royals are a good substitute. If that’s not possible, any new potato will work okay, but they must be new. Not baking potatoes!

A quick note about reduced fat mayonnaise or sour cream — Don’t use it unless you must, for health reasons, etc. The corn starch, tapioca starch and pectin used to re-thicken the product after its fat and calories are cut with added water…. well, adding more liquid (lemon juice in this case) causes the mayo and/or sour cream to stiffen up like tarmac as soon as you start to stir it. Just suck in your tummy and pretend that there’s not a jillion calories in this to-die-for-delicious salad. If you must use reduced fat sour cream or mayo, be aware that the more you stir, the thicker the dressing becomes, so don’t overwork it.

Danish Cold Potato Salad — “Kold Dansk Kartoffelsalat”


1 kilo cooked, cold new potatoes (peeled or not, your choice)
1/2 white onion, grated or very finely chopped


200 ml full-fat sour cream 18% fat *
100 ml good quality mayonnaise (not reduced fat) *
milk to thin if too gloopy
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons each of chopped dill and chopped chives
1 tablespoon lemon juice (add more if you want it more tart)

salt and white pepper to taste


Dill, chives, parsley and/or chopped radishes


Cut the potatoes into slices and place them in a bowl. Grate the onion over the sliced potatoes. Stir together the dressing ingredients, season with lemon juice, salt and white pepper, and then pour over potatoes and onions. Turn gently so as not to break the potato slices. Allow the potato salad to rest in the refrigerator for approx. half hour before serving. Stir and decorate with dill, chives and chopped radishes before serving. Serves 4

Variations and Substitutions:

1. Replace the dill and chives with 250g fresh or frozen peas (blanched and/or thawed, at room temperature)

2. Replace dill and chives with 2 teaspoons of mild curry powder

3. Replace chives with chopped fresh mint

4. * Low-Fat, reduced-calorie version as shown in the photograph. Use 200ml of low-fat, natural yogurt and 100ml half-fat crème fraîche. The texture and flavour won’t be the same as the full-fat version though.

© MiskMask 2011

14 Comments Add yours

  1. My sort of salad – I adore potato salads and this one sings of Denmark 🙂

  2. MiskMask says:

    It’s lovely, and I think you’ll like it. Do the full-fat version, unless there’s some reason that you can’t splurge once in a while. I have to do the reduced-fat version for Peder but the ‘real’ thing is heaps better. Let me know what you think, okay? 😀

  3. drfugawe says:

    Ah, a fellow foodie who appreciates real fat! I’m one of the lucky ones whose parents have passed down a ‘butter gene’ – my wife too. Neither of us have problem levels of cholesterol, even though we freely consume mucho amounts of fats (Yes, we are sensitive to the caloric issues, but we believe medical science does not yet understand cholesterol.).

    Your recipe is very close to one which we love – my wife swears that cooking the potatoes whole, and then immediately cutting them up while hot, and adding the dressing as soon as possible makes the salad even better. I think she may be right, but it ain’t an easy thing to do!

  4. Misk Cooks says:

    I’ve heard of the ‘butter gene’ but I’m not sure if my parents gifted me with it. I’m not on cholesterol-lowering meds, and I’m certainly of the age where this is common, so perhaps I hit it lucky there. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t with my husband who has diabetes, so my kitchen gears very much toward low-fat, low-calorie, reduced salt and no refined sugar. He discovered he had diabetes about 15-years-ago, and there was a very ‘shwoooop’-ish learning curve on what I could and couldn’t serve him as a meal. Food combinations, meal planning for low GI numbers … it’s like Bob Flowerdew’s companion gardening technique! Hmmm….I wonder if you know who Bob Flowerdew is…

    I suspect that your wife is right about dressing the potatoes while they’re hot. It would certainly soak into them better.

  5. drfugawe says:

    I too am diabetic -another gift from my parents- but I’ve had wonderful results from a drug named Byetta, and the fats don’t seem to affect it – however, I do honor all the rest of the required dietary elements.

    No, I don’t know Bob Flowerdew – I’ve always loved how we can speak the same language (relatively!) but have such different cultures – it really is fascinating.

  6. Misk Cooks says:

    I found an article about Bob Flowerdew at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/16/AR2006071600982.html and he also writes for an RHS gardening blog at http://www.hartley-botanic.co.uk/gardening-tips/category/bob-flowerdew Both are quite interesting, and I find very useful. Please forgive me if I’ve exceeded the limits of what you consider interesting.

    I’m glad that you’re having good results from your meds. It’s important for your future health. Do you have diabetic-type recipes on your blog? I looked but didn’t see anything specific to it.

    1. drfugawe says:

      Worry not – I both appreciate and shall try to do justice to your research. After reading the first article, I was picturing an elderly, stately guy – however I think Flowerdew has the look of an American Indian, especially with the braid (I have one too.).

      I don’t think I’ve included many diabetic recipes on my blog – reason being, my diet philosophy is moderation, not avoidance – I always have my daily carbs in the form of bread at breakfast, as I love bread and I love baking. But lunch and dinner are full of veggies, fruit, and fish – and I generally cook for ‘taste’ rather than subbing ingredients that sacrifice taste – but everything in moderation.

      1. Misk Cooks says:

        I do indeed know what you mean, that Bob Flowerdew should be an elderly stately person. When he was on telly, he came across that way also. It’s almost as if some people come into this world ‘older’ than others … if that makes sense.

        And I concur completely about your diet philosophy. We do much the same, but my husband does from time to time yearn for the old days when he could enjoy a slab of chocolate cake with a dollop of homemade ice cream. He did/does have a sweet-tooth; most Danes do. Do you and your wife eat dessert?

  7. drfugawe says:

    Yes – it’s a part of a moderate approach. We most often share a slice of cake or a panna cotta when we are dining out – and we try not to have tempting things in the house, it’s just asking for trouble. My career background put me in close touch with the behaviorists and I learned that one can unlearn a habit in about 6 weeks, and I’ve pretty much done that myself, but that also means not to deny myself forever after. My wife, a non diabetic, still eats more sweets than is good for her, but at least she hides them from me.

  8. Misk Cooks says:

    We don’t have sweets in the house either. Sugar-free choccies are so full of fat that the lack of sugar is immaterial. I did find a sugar-free carrot cake recently that’s sweetened with dates and a banana. True, those will also convert and cause a spike but at least it’s not ‘real’ sugar.

    We’ve just recently seen Skinny Cow ice lollies in the supermarket, and surprisingly he can have one of those without any movement in his blood sugar levels. It’s an occasional treat. If that carrot cake turns out well, I’ll post the result here. 😀

  9. I love this. We use sour cream in a lot of potato salads or Greek yogurt. Katherine has an aversion to mayo. I love it though.

  10. This was really helpful, used it to make Kartoffelsalat for my Danish Eurovision party!
    You can see my blog post here: http://theintrovertedchilli.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/eurovision-2014-danish-cuisine/


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