Hamburger Lobscouse

Lobscouse or Labskaus as it is called in Germany is a speciality served often in Hamburg, Bremen other parts of northern Germany as well as the Scandinavian countries.

The dish goes back to the days where sailors often spent many month on the sea and there was very little food that wouldn't go off during those long journeys. So the ship's cooks had to be inventive to with the few ingredients they had left on board. Amongst them were often pickled fish, gherkins, potatoes and beetroot which were used to make the dish that today is known in Germany as Labskaus. These ingredients are part of this lobscouse recipe from Hamburg as well. As is often the case with traditional dishes there are many different ways to prepare it. 

The dish was for quite a while out of fashion and is not everybody's cup of tea but it has grown in popularity in recent times and can be found on the menu of many restaurants in Northern Germany. Apart from being very healthy it is as well a unique and rare experience for the taste buds and one that my wife and I really enjoy.

Preparation time: 15 minutes 
Cooking time: at least 30 minutes
Resting time: 0 minutes
Total time needed: 45 minutes
Grade of Difficulty: easy

Ingredients for Hamburger Lobscouse

  • 500 gram / 17.63 oz floury potatoes
  • 50 ml / 1.7 oz milk
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 1 tin of corned beef / corned meat 340 gram / 12 oz
  • 250 gram / 8.8 oz sweet and sour gherkins
  • 120 gram / 4.2 oz pickle juice from the gherkin jar
  • 450 gram / 15.9 oz pickled beetroot, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 pickled herring fillets, (use either Matjies, Rollmops or Bismarck Herring, depending on your taste or whats available)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Quarter or half the potatoes and cook them in salt water for 20 minutes
  • While the potatoes are boiling add 350 gram / 12.3 oz of beetroot,  the gherkins, garlic and gherkin pickle juice to a food processor and blend them for about 20 seconds or until you have a smooth paste
Labskaus ingredients in food processorLabskaus ingredients in food processor
  • When the potatoes are done, pour of the water and add milk and butter to the hot potatoes and using a potato masher mash the potatoes in the pot
Labskaus ingredients blendedLabskaus ingredients blended
  • Add the beetroot mix from the blender to the potato mash, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and gently blend the mash with the other ingredients
  • Put pot back on the stove and gently warm up the lobscouse on low heat
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry the eggs, sunny side up
  • Once the eggs are done and the labskaus mix in the pot has warmed up serve them on a plate with gherkin, some of the extra beetroot and pickled herring (I used Bismarck Herring) 

Traditional German Recipes

Try „Königsberger Klopse“ and other traditional German recipesTry „Königsberger Klopse“ and other traditional German recipes

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