Swedish herring potato salad for Walpurgis night

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Salat_mit_Shiitake_und_BluetenWalpurgis night is a traditional spring festival in large parts of Central and Northern Europe. It is held on 30th of April or 1st of May. It is usually celebrated with dancing and with bonfires. It is exactly six months from All Hallows’ Eve.

In Finland, Walpurgis day (Vappu) is one of the four biggest holidays along with Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and Midsummer.

In Germany, Walpurgisnacht, Walpurgis Night (in the folklore) the night of 30 April (May Day’s eve), when witches meet on the Brocken mountain and hold revels with their Gods and await the arrival of spring.

In Sweden, Walpurgis Night (in Swedish simply Valborg) has more or less become a de facto half holiday, thus people need some special treatment. The next recipe is a Swedish herring salad made for Walpurgis night. This colorful and healthy version of herring salad (Sillsalad), rich in both taste and omega-3 fatty acids. This recipe is also lovely when poached salmon is substituted for the herring (but then, it is call ed Laxsalad!).


  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup wine-pickled herring -or- tinned smoked herring
  • 10 to 12 new potatoes, skins on
  • 3 green onions (scallions)
  • 1 cup pickled beets
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 green apple (like Granny Smith)
  • 1 bunch fresh dill (about 1/2 cup when chopped)
  • 3 to 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds


Scrub the new potatoes well and then boil just until fork-tender, about 30 minutes (depending upon the size of your potatoes). Cool and cut into 1/8” slices.

Place pickled herring in colander and rinse lightly under cold water (omit this step if using tinned smoked herring). Pat gently with paper towel to dry and cut into 1” pieces.

Dice green onions and julienne pickled beet slices into thin strips. Peel, seed, and then chop cucumber into 1/2” pieces. Wash apple well, core, and cut into 1/2” pieces or slices, leaving the skin on. Coarsely chop the fresh dill, leaving a few long stems for garnish. Peel and cut the hard-boiled eggs into wedges.

For Lemon-Caraway Vinaigrette Dressing: Whisk together olive oil, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and caraway seeds.

Arrange first 7 ingredients on a serving platter, sprinkling with chopped dill and garnishing with hard-boiled egg wedges and lemon, if desired. Serve lemon-caraway vinaigrette dressing on the side.

Yield: 6 servings as a main-dish salad; 15-20 if part of a buffet or smörgåsbord table.

4 thoughts on “Swedish herring potato salad for Walpurgis night

    Naz (@CinnamonEats) said:
    May 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    This sounds yummy! I wanted to ask if you know why we can’t find Hungarian peppers here, you know the green/yellow ones that are used all the time in Hungarian cooking? No one here has even heard of it! It’s very strange! My husband is so disappointed!

      spajzgirl responded:
      May 3, 2013 at 9:08 am

      Hi Naz,
      That’s bad vary bad! I will ask some friends who live in England where is the Hungarian paprika is available…Here in Germany there are plenty because of the neighbourhood…
      but in Great Britain I don’t know…
      In London I have seen it in some market place but I have to recall where was it…
      by the way how was your little outing to London?Did you enjpy?
      We are going to Belgium for 10 days I am so excited since I love the food there!
      and the restaurants etc…What’s your plan for summer? Travelling in Europe?
      have a nice weekend
      Lilla alias Spajzgirl

        Naz (@CinnamonEats) said:
        May 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm

        I know we were very disappointed especially my husband! We thought because we’re in EU we can get it here but no one even knows what it is! Very strange! London was good I will do a blog post about it soon! 🙂

        Naz (@CinnamonEats) said:
        May 3, 2013 at 7:57 pm

        Oh and Belgium that’s exciting! Hopefully we can travel too 🙂 enjoy the weekend!

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