So, I know what you’re thinking. Lewishambles, you’ve moved to Hamburg you silly bint?! Why are you writing about Frankfurt?
What is she on about?
Now you’re entirely correct that I’ve moved to Hamburg. But I’m not talking about Frankfurt, I’m talking about my klein Frankfurter, the Lovely One. He spent 17 years growing up as a confirmed worshipper at the temple of Frankfurt Green Sauce. This condiment/sauce/dressing is a Frankfurt obsession, a speciality of the state of Hesse where in the local dialect it’s known as Grie-Soss and is so popular that there are festivals, monuments and even kindergartens dedicated to the stuff. So spotting a packet of the elusive herbs in the market seemed a sign from above that we should celebrate the end of our first week in Hamburg with a classically German supper.
The origins of the recipe are lost in time (although some wags would have you believe that Goethe’s mother invented it – which is balls, but there’s good evidence it was his favourite food), but at its heart it is a herbal mix much like sauce vierge or salsa verde, mixed with a yoghurt- or cream-based dressing and chopped boiled eggs to produce something much like a tangy tartare. It’s delicious with boiled potatoes, more boiled eggs, sausages, schnitzel or anything really. And the Lovely One would, could and indeed has eaten it with more or less anything – it’s even popped up as an ice-cream flavour in Oberrad.
The Magnificent Seven
The sauce depends on the availability of seven different types of delicious fresh herbs. These are often sold in packets at local markets. We picked up ours at the Isemarkt which was a great find. Inside you’ll find enough for around 2 large servings, containing Parsley, Chives, Chervil, Borage, Sorrel, Garden or Mustard Cress and Salad Burnet (nah, me neither).
In Frankfurt and in Hesse you can often find fresh ready-made sauce in the grocery aisles, but the actual herbs themselves are a bit harder to find, being non-usual finds. Hands up if you grow Salad Burnet, for example. Or knew that it existed before you read the words in this post. Anyone? Anyone at all?!
If you’re desperate to recreate the actual traditional mix you may need to grow your own or find a friendly market trader who can help you find the neccessaries. It may help, however, to know that the sauce is often tweaked depending on the seasons, incorporating dill, dandelion, rocket or lovage as required. So tweak away!
Recipe – serves 6-8 (or 4 Frankfurters – seriously, they hoover this up)
It’s worth noting that while a food processor or a pestle and mortar is going to make your life easier and your sauce more *vivid*, it’s not a prerequisite. Lots of people enjoy “Oma-style” (Granny style) hand-chopped Gruene Sosse which simply requires a sharp knife and patience. Certainly that’s all I had to hand for my weekend’s handiwork!
1/2 packet green sauce herbs, around 200g in total
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
200g sour cream
1 tbsp mustard (or to taste, add 1/2 at first and see how you go)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
- Clean and wash the herbs then very very finely chop, either by hand or by whizzing in a food processor. If it’s more of a paste, no matter.
- Tip into a bowl and add the chopped egg, yoghurt, soured cream and mayonnaise. Add half the lemon juice and around half the mustard and mix thoroughly. It should be a lovely green colour (note – if you hand-chopped it will be paler – don’t worry, it will still taste great).
- Adjust to taste with the remaining lemon, mustard, salt and pepper. It should taste slightly tart and refreshing and deeply herbal.
- Cover and leave in the fridge for at least an hour for the flavours to develop. This is great on boiled potatoes and boiled eggs, but also lovely with smoked and grilled meats, or with fish as an alternative to tartare.