SCANDI PARMESAN MASH

“Since  I have no intention of giving speeches in Parliament, I would rather exercise my cultural embracing in the Kitchen…”

This wasn’t supposed to be Scandi Mash. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was supposed to just be a side mash with a nice, interesting twist that you could make ahead of time and keep in the fridge and whip out whenever you needed it. That’s all I wanted. It was only when I discovered that a particular ingredient was popular in Scandinavia that I felt compelled to anoint this dish a Scandi Mash. And then I throw Parmesan on it and betrayed everything that it is. But welcome to 2017.

Scandi influence is big at the moment. From interior design to selfies to meditation, their imprint is overwhelming in our cultural snatching and it’s also evident in cooking. But I fly under the radar. Not because I’m an ‘anti-trend’ person (my blog has on numerous occasion been my excuse to dabble) but because I’m fairly culturally deaf and I like my own routines. But I am also an avid reader of food literature and it was only when I was reading an interesting article on how Nordic cooking has influenced our ingredient choices, that I put down the book and said ‘….oh, I see’.

I was basically inspired by Nordic cooking without even knowing it – and it’s all because of horseradish. Now I was always under the impression horseradish was a British thing. Yes – I am aware it does not grow here – but I was so used to seeing it strewn across a beef dinner that I had no reason to believe otherwise. But it was only when I read that in Scandinavia (or more specifically Denmark) that horseradish was used in a lot of interesting ways as opposed to just a sauce, I realised that one of my favourite side dishes was actually Scandi influenced without me even knowing it.

Horseradish in Scandinavia is more commonly used with a smoked salmon dish whereby it’s combined with other ingredients (for instance dill, cucumber, mayonnaise and some vinegar) to create a punchy yet cool creamy sauce to slather over salmon. What I’ve done is take aspects of this cooling combination and throw it into one of our favourite British side dishes – mashed potato.

I’ve been adding horseradish to mash for quite some time, so has the rest of the UK, but it was only when I started to read on how Scandi cooking use horseradish in their cuisine – a real unique combination of heat inducing ingredients with palette refreshing ingredients – I realised I could bring a new life to one of my favourite side dishes whilst still remaining true to the method that we know and love.

img_9131So basically, peel a few potatoes (I prefer Albert Bartlett Rooster potatoes because the red skins make it much easier for me to see where to peel!) before quartering them and adding them to a big pan of cold water. Bring this pan to a boil and drop to a simmer. Allow this to simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and tender. Using a mug, take out a little bit of the cooking water and leave to one side. Drain them and leave them in the colander to steam for a little while.

Put the empty pan back on the hob. Pour in a little bit of sour cream before twisting in some black pepper and a big tablespoon of horseradish sauce. Now squirt in about a tablespoon of mayonnaise followed by half a tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Finally, add a small splash of the potato cooking water. Stir this to combine.

Now tip in the potatoes before stirring with a spoon, ensuring they are coated with the creamy horseradish mixture before sprinkling with some sea salt. Mash everything together with a potato crusher of some kind before scraping into a small roasting dish. I allow this to cool before covering with foil and sliding in the oven until I am ready to use. But when you are ready to use, whether it be a day or so later or right then and there, preheat the oven to 200C and grate over a little bit of Parmesan cheese to cover the top. Slide in the oven and bake for roughly 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through and the Parmesan has crisped.

So this inspiration is all about the flavour balance. Yes we have been putting horseradish into our mash for decades, but adding those cooling acid and creamy flavours allows a much mellower, refreshing – and let’s just face it, Scandi approach to mash. So yes I have totally bastardised a Scandi recipe here by combining some of their loved ingredients with mash and Parmesan but this isn’t cultural theft so much as it is the implementation of multi-national inspiration in my food.

And in this dark, weird world where embracing cultures outside of our own is often met with ignorance based judgement, I think a Scandi-British mash is a nice culinary statement. And since  I have no intention of giving speeches in Parliament, I would rather exercise my cultural embracing in the Kitchen.

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