How to make Sweden's best west coast salad

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How to make Sweden's best west coast salad

This prawn and asparagus salad from the west coast of Sweden makes for the perfect summer meal. Food writer John Duxbury shares his favourite recipe with The Local.


In the summer, this dish is served at nearly every restaurant and café on the west coast of Sweden. In Smögen, a delightful old fishing village on the Bohuslän coast, the terrace of open-fronted fishmongers’ shops sell hundreds of plates of ready-made west coast salads ('Västkustsallad'). It is easy to make and if you can buy some really fresh crab or lobster it makes an absolutely delightful meal.

If you are contemplating a holiday on the west coast be warned that the season is very short. For instance, in July and for the first two weeks of August Smögen is besieged by sailors and hordes of tourists. Outside of that six-week period it is very quiet with many of the restaurants closed. 

Fishing huts in Smögen on Sweden's west coast. Photo: Marianne Løvland


Serves: 4

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 10 minutes

Total: 30 minutes


250g (8oz) fresh asparagus spears

100g (4oz) cooked crab or lobster meat

300g (¾lb) cooked prawns (shrimps), preferably shelled by hand

100g (½ cup) fresh mushrooms

200g (7oz) can mussels in brine

100g (4oz) lettuce


50ml (3 ½ tbsp) mayonnaise

½ tsp tomato paste

½ garlic, crushed

½ tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

salt and white pepper to taste


½ tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 lemons, cut into wedges

4 lobster or crab claws (optional)

4 sprigs of dill


1. Steam the asparagus for four minutes and then refresh under cold water until cool enough to handle. Cut each spear into three, then leave to drain.

2. Cut the crab or lobster meat into bite-sized pieces.

3. Shell the prawns and pat them dry with kitchen paper.

4. Wipe the mushrooms clean and then slice them thinly.

5. Drain the brine from the mussels.

6. Mix together the crab or lobster, prawns, mushrooms, mussels and asparagus spears, taking care to leave the prawns and mussels whole.

7. Mix the dressing ingredients together. Add half the dressing to the fish mixture and mix thoroughly. Add more if necessary. Note: if you are making this for Swedes you will probably need all the dressing, but not everyone tends to like so much sauce so you may only need half – or you can serve it separately.

8. Shred the lettuce and spread it out on individual plates. Place the fish mixture on top and garnish with chopped dill, tomatoes, lemon wedges, crab or lobster claws (optional) and dill sprigs.


- If you ever get the chance to catch some fresh crab on the west coast of Sweden, do take it. It is true that my wife gave me a wide birth on the ferry on the way back as I was carrying live crabs, but it was worth it because they were the best I've ever tasted.

- Swedes argue that hand-shelled prawns taste so much better but quite frankly it is so tedious that I seldom bother.

- Some people also add 125g (½ cup) peas or sugar snap peas.

- I feel guilty writing it, but I do enjoy west coast salad with some crisp French fries and mayonnaise.

This recipe was originally published on food writer John Duxbury's Swedish Food website.


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