Sailor’s Stew

This traditional northern German dish of minced cured beef, red beets, gherkins, onions and herrings or bacon originated on sailing vessels in the 18th century. Often served topped with a fried egg.
Course Entree, Stew


  • 1 lb cured beef
  • 1 clove
  • 1/2 small bay leaf
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 4 ounces pickled red beets
  • 1 Matjes herring filet
  • 12 ounces peeled onions
  • 1-2 pickled gherkins
  • 2-1/2 ounces pork fat
  • 1-1/2 pounds mashed potatoes
  • 5-10 tablespoons liquid from pickled gherkins or stock
  • 1 clove finely chopped garlic
  • Salt
  • sliced cooked red beets optional, for garnish
  • fried egg optional, for garnish
  • pickled gherkin optional, for garnish
  • rolled pickled herring optional, for garnish


  • Place meat and spices in boiling water. Cook slowly over moderate heat until meat is tender. Place meat on dish and drain red beets. Put meat, beets, Matjes herring, onions and gherkins through meat mincer.
  • Heat pork fat and add meat mixture and saute for about 5 minutes until golden in color. Add stock to mixture and simmer well until blended. Mix in mashed potatoes. Add salt to taste and possibly garlic.
  • Garnish with fried egg, slices of red beets, gherkins or rolled pickled herring.