Being Danish abroad (from Denmark), one can hardly talk about food without bringing up the subject Danish food and Danish open sandwiches. With a lot of focus on Danish food and the Scandinavian food scene in general, over the last few years, it is also with certain pride that I do talk about it. With Rene Redzepi‘s Noma probably being the main source for our glory these days, the New Nordic Food movement has given us reason to be proud and to show off our heritage. I’m pleased to see that it’s not just the Danish “fine dining” scene that is popular, but also more down to earth Danish food is starting to be the talk of town. Maybe not so much in New Zealand yet, but in New York most certainly, and also in Australia. In Melbourne, Danish chef Bente Grysbæk runs Restaurant Dansk, at Denmark House a division of the Royal Danish Consulate in Melbourne. Earlier this year I went to see Bente, and to shoot some work with her for a future project that also involves New Zealand based journalist Kirsten Rødsgaard-Matiesen. Bente and Restaurant Dansk focuses entirely on a Danish menu with a twist, and here you can get beautifully designed Danish open sandwiches, with all elements made from scratch, just like our grandmothers would.
Around Christmas time I usually get quite homesick and one thing that is very closely related to home is of course food, and especially our open sandwiches – Smørrebrød as we call them. Great Danish food is hard to come by out here, although our beloved rye bread is now available at some supermarkets and specialty bakers around Auckland. So a simple open sandwich with pate, salami or salmon with a slice of cucumber is often part of my lunch, but not nearly as artistic and handcrafted as Bente’s. And one thing that I rarely have is the Christmas seasons variety of marinated herring with curry salad on top. So I’m very pleased that Bente has shared her very own recipe for making marinated herring. This is a must have on the Christmas table on a slice of rye, with a shot of snaps/ akvavit to wash it down with. Enjoy!
Marinade for herring
4 large herring fillets in oil (or 8 small)
125g caster sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp whole black pepper corn
1/2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 tbsp all spice
5 whole gloves
Put everything in a pot, except the herring fillets, and let simmer for about 30min. Let the marinade cool down completely. Drain the herring fillets from any oil or other marinade they came in. Then add them to the cooled marinade and leave for at least 1 week, 3 weeks is optimal.
Yellow marbled eggs
1 tsp turmeric (for yellow marble)
Cook 2 large eggs for 8min then refresh in ice water until cold. Now crack the shell all over, without removing any of the shell. Dissolve the turmeric in plain cold water then add the cracked eggs.
Leave for 1-2 days before peeling. They should be used the same day as you have peeled them, as the marbling fades.
50g sour cream
30g raw macaroni soup pasta
1 granny smith apple peeled and cut into fine dices
1.5 tsp mild curry powder
Pinch of pepper
Mix mayonnaise and sour cream thoroughly combined. Then add apple dices, cooked soup pasta, curry powder and season with pepper. Salt is not necessary, but optional.
Find a nice rustic rye bread from your local bakery, and cut 2 slices length way, 1 cm thick and cut in half again, so you end up with 4 rectangle pieces. Spread each slice of bread with good quality butter, salted. Drain herring on paper towel before placing on top. Then place the curry salad in a straight line. Peel the eggs and cut into wedges before placing on top of the curry salad, egg yolk facing down. Then garnish with thinly sliced granny smith apples and shallots, capers and dill.
Best accompanied by ice-cold beer and aquavit.