Make Ahead

Agny Danielsen's Surkal

April 17, 2013
3 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

A traditional Norwegian sauerkraut, surkal is made with little more than cabbage, vinegar, and butter. Caraway and apple give it an added boost of flavor. This recipe, adapted from Daytona Strong's grandmother -- which Daytona discovered her grandmother had published in an old church cookbook -- is hearty and satisfying, perfect for a cold, rainy evening. Shared on Outside Oslo and The Outside Oslo Eye in its metric units, this version contains ounces and cups. —Daytona Strong

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Daytona Strong is a Norwegian-American cook from Seattle.
WHAT: A barebones sauerkraut that will taste like anything but.
HOW: You've got this -- just shred, simmer, and let the cabbage slouch into itself for 90 minutes.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Time is the key to this dish -- in 90 minutes of simmering, the cabbage softens, as does its vinegary bite, and the apple and the caraway thrum away in the background. We know we're supposed to serve this with something else, but we couldn't stop eating bowls of it all by its lonesome. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 26 ounces cabbage
  • 2 apples, cored
  • 2 1/2 ounces butter
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon caraway
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Curly parsley, chopped, for garnish
  1. Shred the cabbage using the slicing disc of a food processor, then switch to the shredding disk to shred the apple (it's okay to leave the skin on).
  2. Melt butter in a large, heavy pot, then add remaining ingredients (except parsley) and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 90 minutes, until the cabbage is soft and has darkened and the vinegar has reduced and softened in flavor. You may need to increase the heat near the end to finish reducing the vinegar.
  3. Remove from the heat and, as Grandma Agny indicated, "Serve in a nice-looking dish; garnish with apple wedges and parsley."

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Noreen Fish
    Noreen Fish
  • Ida-Maria Skavhaug
    Ida-Maria Skavhaug
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • Veggielover
  • Daytona Strong
    Daytona Strong

15 Reviews

Noreen F. January 14, 2018
I made this for Christmas Eve to serve with Swedish meatballs. I wasn't expecting anyone but my mother and I to eat it, but to my surprise, there was only a little bit left at the end of the evening. I will definitely make this again.
beejay45 November 16, 2015
In spite of my Norwegian background, I've never had this. Is it similar to a braised/sweet and sour red cabbage in flavor but with caraway? Just wondering what to expect. Thanks!
Ida-Maria S. November 16, 2015
Yes. Surkaal and roedkaal are fairly similar sides served with pork roast.
Ida-Maria S. December 16, 2014
No Christmas without Surkaal :-)
TheWimpyVegetarian February 5, 2014
This is right up my alley. It looks delicious! Saving to make it soon. Congrats in being in the finals!
Roar D. January 20, 2014
Perfect accompaniment to a hearty meal, especially with various sausages or pork roast. I grew up with this, and still love it. I made it myself during Christmas, it was easy and delicious. The caraway gives it zest.
Showboat January 17, 2014
Defies common sense, 2cups of white vinegar plus white sugar. Cook it as loong as you like or want, it will not turn nutritious or tasty, followed the instructions to a T, despite the misgivings, as awful as suspected. Some recepie just deserve to face from the collective conciseness
beejay45 November 16, 2015
Uh, "face from the collective conciseness"? What does that even mean??? This comment is strange on so many levels. but...when does cooking anything ever make something more nutritious? And based on your opinion of the ingredients, what were you expecting from the finished dish? Not trying to be snarky, just really don't understand?
Veggielover January 16, 2014
Awesome...just the way I had it growing up...and what I've been craving lately! :)
Daytona S. January 16, 2014
AntoniaJames, ENunn, QueenSashy, fiveandspice, and Linda--thanks for your comments! I hope you enjoy the recipe. Linda, isn't it fascinating how traditional recipes like this can have so many variations?
Linda R. January 16, 2014
Don't think Surkal had apples, just caraway, surgar, and drippings from pork roast.
fiveandspice January 16, 2014
Surkaal!!!! I love surkaal, but my brothers HATED it, so we always only had rodkaal growing up - except in Norway we would sometimes come in the heatable foil bag. Anyways, I haven't ever actually tried making my own. I'll definitely be giving this a try! Congrats!
QueenSashy January 16, 2014
I am a huge lover of sauerkraut and this looks like an absolute heaven. Congrats on the wonderful dish and on being the finalist.
EmilyNunn January 16, 2014
AntoniaJames April 17, 2013
This looks delicious! Thank you for sharing the recipe. ;o)