Updated: Sep 25, 2022
Currywurst - Curry Ketchup - Cucumber Salad, German Potato Salad
My first exposure to street food in Europe was an extremely understated weiner stand that sat outside the Deutsche Bahn station in the heart of Germany. This train (be fair to me, it’s been thirty years) had a stop in Koln (Cologne). I was with other brothers in green (US Army Europe) and we were slow on the take. We kept looking at the stand, wondering what it was. It had no descriptive markings on being a food stall - in fact, it almost looked like an unlisted Information Booth sitting literally yards away from the train window.
Once we saw the hand off something warm, steaming in a bun, we all jumped out of our chairs and chanced not knowing exactly when the train was to take off again. For only a few coin marks, I had a heaping round of bread roll, with a plump weiner nestled in it. I looked at the stand owner, an older gentlemen, somewhat as plump as the wieners he served, filling out his brown sweater. A clean white apron atop it. He was nonchalant and looked at me as if to dare say something. I wanted a condiment, any condiment. I looked around and only found napkins. I took two and then headed closer to the train.
Where I thought I needed something, I needed nothing. The bread, a German brotchen, is a hard roll, with a soft yeast-y center. The weiner was full of subtle spices. The combination - perfect. That is where I learned, at the tender age of 17, to be open, hold opinions, and shove things in my mouth happily.
This was my first exposure, outside of the US and the Philippines of Western street food. I’ll be honest, I did not know it existed in Europe. Because of an addiction to television growing up - I thought everything European was French Proviciencal. That proved wholly wrong. Living in Germany was tremendous learning for my palette. I was lucky to be exposed to a combination of everything - from the low to the high, from the restaurant to the German home.
It was from this that I came back to make something close to this experience, although augment it a bit to the German Christmas Festivals. A currywurst, a weiner dripping with handmade curry ketchup. A traditional German potato salad - where we use mayo, they use a combination of vinegar, sugar and mustard. And a German cucumber salad to cut the umami flavors and potatoes a bit - it with fresh cucumbers, dill and red onions.
All and all I had an excellent dinner! Here’s all three recipes:
CURRYWURST RECIPE - All Streets Gourmand Version
Traditional German Sausages - I don’t make these, but I do go out of my way to a local German deli and getting them from the counter - I like German Bratwurst or Weisswurst.
Crinkle Fries - look, you know these are frozen, it is what it is - but, if baked instead of fries, I promise them a perfect compliment to the sausage and the ketchup
Curry Ketchup -
This is not for the faint of heart or the uninitiated (thanks Bane) - this is a lot of ingredients and needs to be cooked at least the night before to mature the flavors. Even better if made days in advance.
Ingredients and instructions listed next - take your time and enjoy making ketchup - I find it a relaxing and rewarding experience. It takes a while, so I guess you have to say that.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small clove garlic
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 tablespoons quality curry powder
1 tablespoon quality sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup organic or low sodium ketchup
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 tablespoons vegetable broth
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon quality Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
save curry powder for seasoning upon serving
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and cook the onions just until soft and translucent. Do not brown - they will change the flavor of the ketchup. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the curry powder, paprika, cloves and cinnamon and cook for 30 seconds. Here is where you’ll smell the familiar scent of ketchup’s base.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Let the mixture cool completely - refrigerating for at least a day. The curry ketchup will keep for up to a month in the fridge.
Currywurst and fries are typically served in paper food trays and eaten with currywurst toothpicks (or approximate).
RECIPE: Traditional German Potato Salad
2 pounds Yukon Gold or Fingerling potatoes
1/2 pound thick-cut bacon
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons minced chives, for garnish
Cook the bacon first, then set it aside to cool while preparing the rest of the dish. Always save bacon oil, reserve some for the dish.
Place potatoes in a pot and cover them with enough water to settle 2 inches above the surface of the potatoes. Salt the water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain, allow to cool, then cut into bite sized rounds.
In a skillet, add a 1/4 teaspoon of bacon fat, and cook the onions until they brown.
Separately, whisk the vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt until well mixed. In a glass baking dish, add the potatoes, dressing, onions, and crumbled bacon. Give it all a good toss. Garnish with chives and serve warm.
RECIPE: Traditional German Cucumber, Red Onion and Dill Salad
⅓ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon milk
¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to desired taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chopped fresh dill
Large cucumber washed and thinly sliced (about 2 ½ cups sliced)
One large red onion sliced as long strands
Whisk sour cream (or yogurt), Dijon mustard, vinegar, milk, salt, pepper and dill in a medium bowl until combined.
Add sliced cucumbers and onions and gently stir or toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for hours before serving. Best if made the day before serving.
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Classical German to cook by!