Thursday, May 10, 2012

Copenhagen: Smørrebrød

I don't know about you but there are a few things that I will make for myself when I am home alone - and no one is watching. Things I would never make for a guest. Or even make for Ingo. I can't even call them meals - they are thrown together in no time, unsophisticated yet satisfying and somewhat guilty pleasures. Something like packaged ramen noodles dressed up with a healthy dousing of soy sauce or maybe that sweet and sour chicken sauce; basmati rice with maggi cube; a bowl of stove popped popcorn - thickly coated in melted butter and too much salt for most people's taste; spaghetti with nothing but truffle oil and salt.

They mostly require simple assembly and they often involve combining a small but specific number of little pieces. And that is why they remind me just a little bit of Smørrebrød - Danish open-faced sandwiches. The concept is simple: a single piece of bread topped with a couple of fresh harmonious ingredients like cheese and tomato, or salmon and onion. Something you might throw together if your were home alone for dinner.

But the Smørrebrød we had at Aamanns Kolonial Delikatesse in Copenhagen were definitely NOT your home alone variety. Behold:

In the "Jersey Beef" category: Tartare of jersey beef with egg-emulsion, tarragon, pickles, caper, onion and crispy potatoes. The combination of these simple but fresh, complimentary ingredients made this slice of bread a meal. Well, ok, maybe half a meal. Deconstructed tartar on a slice of dark bread with chips! All of those little pickled items, raw beef and tarragon swirling around in one bite! So delicious! 

There were several breads with fish, like "fried fish filets with green remoulade with tarragon and a lemon wedge" and "organic egg with fresh peeled shrimps, dill mayo, black pepper and cress". Decisions, decisions!

Or this, one of the fresh fish from Hanstholm and Iceland, a "sugarsalted salmon with cauliflowerpurée, pickled onions, endivesalad and crispy ryebreadwafer" as copied directly from the English translated menu.

Or the "Freerange Pork from Grambogard: Pigs breast served with prunes, honey and applevinegar served with lettuce, fresh plums compote and walnuts". MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

So simple in their complexity or complex in their simplicity. Yes, of course, Smørrebrød is Danish for "let's see what I have left over in the fridge and combine it all together on a single slice (for the carbohydrate-adverse) of dark bread!" It is the perfect home alone meal. Aaaaamazing Aamanns has definitely inspired me to see what kind of deliciousness I can come up with and fit on a slice of brød!


  1. Mmmmm spaghetti with truffle oil and salt - yummers!

  2. It should be added that in the Danish mind a smørrebrød to be the real thing requires the sandwich ingredients to cover the underlying slice of bread entirely that no bread can be seen no more, and that the order of ingredients is quite crucial. The Danes may be known for Lego, for the invention of soft-ice and their friendly manners when travelling abroad, but a central Danish element is often overlooked: They absolutely have no sense of humor or flexibility when it comes to smørrebrød. Start a major rebellion at a Danish lunch table like changing the order in which roastbeef, salad, onions and mayo are supposed to be be stacked on the bread, or have the herring smørrebrød not as the first one, and conversations will stop. People will stare at you in disbelief and with an expression of confusion. Last time I put the onions under the beetroot, there was a surprisingly long silence until one of my friends declared "Wow, he really thinks outside the box..."

  3. hahah kai so awesome. see how a sandwich can shed light on a culture?? mmm i am hungry..