Agurkesalat – Danish Cucumber Salad

When the greenhouse starts pumping out cucumbers one or two a day and you start wondering why your other plants aren’t this productive, be consoled and comforted by the thought that you can never eat too much agurkesalat, or Cucumber Salad as non-Danish speaking cucumber-lovers might say. This is a mildly acidic salad that also works well as a condiment. Danes slap a fork-load of agurkesalat on hotdogs, treating it as a relish…and the Danes ‘relish’ their agurkesalat. Meeee, too. It cuts right through the richness and fattiness of meats; it’s a perfect accompaniment for pork, ham, beef, liquorice, chicken, pâté, crayons … well, it’s a perfect partner with just about anything that no longer walks, runs or squeaks.

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If your local grocer is behind the times and doesn’t stock rice vinegar, you can use white wine vinegar but you’ll need to cut the acidity with a bit more water. Rely on your taste buds for the correct acidity, remembering that it should jolt your jaw muscles into a rigid spasm in order to properly ‘pickle’ the cucumber slices. Not to worry though — you don’t drink the juice; it’s not an aperitif. When you serve the salad, the cucumbers are drained from the juice so a good sharp taste is required.

If your cucumbers are old, overgrown and the approximate size of the Jolly Green Giant’s shoe, you might consider de-seeding and peeling them. I rarely peel cucumbers because I like the contrast of deep forest green against the milky-white flesh. Many people peel the skins, resulting in a pickled-albino effect. The dill, whether dried or fresh, adds lovely green flecks to the salad also, so perhaps it’s not totally albino if you peel the cucumber.

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A word about slicing. I use a mandolin, a flat slicing mechanism, that’s more like a horizontal guillotine really. I’ve never cut myself on it, yet. Yet, that is. Everyone else I know who’s used one has sliced bits of fingernail and/or flesh into food at one time or another. Most also admit they were never able to find the bits of themselves that became that evening’s meal. If you use a mandolin, use the finger-guard. If you’re like me, say pshaw and don’t. I’d probably not admit to adding a surprising ingredient to meal either. 

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The amount of time that the salted cucumber slices sit depends on just how juicy they are. I find that an hour is usual. After 30-minutes, give it a test. Pick up a slice and wave it about in the air; if it’s all limp and wiggly and pathetic, it’s perfect. There’s apt to be anywhere from a few tablespoons to 100ml of juice at the bottom of your bowl when it’s ready. You might need to add a trickle of vinegar to tart-it-up again if a lot of juice has leached out. And for goodness sake, don’t throw out the cucumber water because the salt and juice cuts the vinegar’s acidity. Did I already mention that? Oh, sorry.

Danish Cucumber Salad – Agurkesalat

Ingredients:

1 cucumber (English Telegraph/Greenhouse variety)
1 teaspoon flaked salt (I use Cornish flaked salt)

30-35ml rice wine vinegar
1/8-1/4 teaspoon granulated Sweetener (Splenda, etc.) or 1 tablespoon granulated/caster sugar (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (add more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Method:

Wash the cucumber but don’t peel it. Slice it very, very thinly into a medium bowl. A mandolin is easiest and fastest but not necessarily the safest method.

Sprinkle the sliced cucumber with the flaked salt, white pepper and dill. Toss and turn the slices so that the salt, white pepper and dill are evenly and thoroughly mixed together. After 10-minutes, toss and turn again. Juice should already be collecting at the bottom of the bowl, making it easier to distribute the salt, pepper and dill throughout the slices. Leave to rest at room temperature for one hour until a puddle of cucumber juice sits at the bottom of the bowl. Voilà: osmosis. The salt leaches the cucumber’s juice from its flesh. Don’t throw it away. This fluid will dilute the vinegar mixture when everything is stirred together.

In a separate small bowl or teacup, mix together the vinegar and sugar/sweetener, stirring until dissolved completely. Pour over the cucumber slices, and toss and turn gently. Taste and add more vinegar if required. Refrigerate for at least 30-minutes until well chilled.

To serve, transfer the pickled cucumber slices to a small serving bowl using a fork, so your cucumbers aren’t served swimming in pickling juice.

© Misk Cooks 12 July 2011

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15 Comments Add yours

  1. drfugawe says:

    Misk, I’d bet that you’re into fermentation of veggies too – Yes? I love to ferment my garden stuff – every year I try more ways. But fermented cucumbers is a standard – better known as Jewish Dills, but the real ones have not one drop of vinegar – only salt and bacteria – actually, I’m in love with bacteria, especially my own!

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      No, Doc, I’m not. I’ve not heard of it. Do you have info about it on your blog? I’m intrigued! 😀

  2. Joanna says:

    Huge cucumber salad fan here! I made the Waitrose version last year which was very acceptable. Now waiting impatiently for my asier to come from Danish Food Direct. So pleased that you found that site 😀 Thanks!

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Oh, gosh, me, too. I love cucumber salad. It’s so fresh and cleansing when you’re eating. I’d be very interested in your Waitrose version recipe. Did you post it on your blog?

      Is that how you managed to receive some choccies from Danish Foods – because you ordered from them? I’m going to order some medister polse but I’ll wait a bit until autumn. For me, medister is a cool weather meal with pickled red cabbage, lots of gravy and a mountain of potatoes.

      1. Joanna says:

        I registered with the Danish Food site and then they sent me an Anton Berg chocolate and a compass on a clip together with their leaflets. I had a bit of a time trying to order on their site though, I kept getting error messages, so I rang and talked to Vivian and she did it over the phone. It’s due to come next Wednesday, as I ordered that Ymer on your recommendation. I can’t remember if I’ve ever eaten it, but I’m always up for trying fermented milk products that I don’t know… she said to have some rye crumbs to go on top… so I added those to… into the unknown for me… Looking forward to it!

    2. Misk Cooks says:

      Joanna, did you also order the Ymerdrys? It’s just dried rye bread crumbs mixed with brown sugar. We put a generous spoonful of berry preserves on our ymer, plus a bit of muesli. I’ll look forward to hearing what you think of ymer. 😀

      1. Joanna says:

        Vivian persuaded me, is that what they are? There are many danish dishes that my mother would tell me about with a slight tone of horror in her voice, beer soup being the one that she hated the most. She had very particular tastes in foods, and once ordered artichoke for dessert, deciding there was nothing she fancied on the dessert menu, so she would have another starter instead…I still dream about the old wooden shelved liquorice shop in Hundested though…

      2. Misk Cooks says:

        Why is it that I can’t reply to your message? There’s no ‘reply’ link.

        Anyway, is that the Hundested in north Sjaelland?

        1. Misk Cooks says:

          Just discovered why; settings changed.

        2. Joanna says:

          Yes, that’s where my grandfather had his summer house, looking over the Kattegat.

          1. Misk Cooks says:

            Been there many, many times. Gosh, small world, eh?

  3. heidi says:

    This sounds very like the cucumber salads from my youth – from the hands of the church ladies – but they were Slovak- not Danish.
    🙂
    I’m going to try your version- minus the use of the mandolin( I have lost the fingernails and tips of fingers in the past- although I have never served them to unsuspecting diners- perhaps the tip off of a huge bandage would have tipped them off anyway!).
    Thanks for visiting my site- I’ll be back to visit yours! 🙂

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Hi, Heidi, and thank you for visiting my site! I thoroughly enjoyed your collection of rolling pins. They are absolutely beautiful! Such lovely wood.

      I suspect that with those naughty Vikings hopping here, there and everywhere that food became a priority after their other agendas where tended to.

      I gave a mandolin to my mother-in-law, and she’s afraid it. She slices cucumbers by hand just as thin as my mandolin does. But then even at 86, she’s an exceptional cook who’s taught me a lot.

      I hope your enjoy your cucumber salad!

  4. What a fabulous recipe! I love cucumber salad, although I have to agree on the dangers on the mandoline – I use one, and I suspect I’ve now removed the fingerprint on a couple of my digits.. 🙂

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Thank you, Celia, and thank you so much for stopping by here for a read! I also love cucumber salad – always reminds me of summer. 😀

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