Just a Little Smørrebrød for You

an image of a true Smørrebrød

Try cold Danish smørrebrød with iced vodka.

The Danish open-faced sandwich smørrebrød makes a perfect lunch on a hot day.

Usually consisting of bread, canned fish, shrimp, cold cuts, or vegetables, along with pickles and marinated salads, it’s a terrific way to use up leftovers on the boat. It’s a customizable, crowd-friendly, and endlessly adaptable.

The Danes have been eating smørrebrød since ancient times. In the old days, it consisted mostly of rather dry bread with lard or butter, but in the late 1800’th it turned in to a more sophisticated culinary craft.

The Roots of Smørrebrød

The foundation of the smørrebrød, eaten with knife and fork, is made up of thinly sliced, dense white, rye, or whole-grain bread topped with:

  • A spread: mayonnaise, butter, mustard, mashed avocado, cream cheese;
  • A layer of protein: sliced beef, chicken, ham, shrimp, or smoked/pickled fish (herring, smoked salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines);
  • Something crisp: sliced radish, cucumber, onion, fennel, apple, lettuce;
  • An herbal or pickled garnish: dill, parsley, horseradish, pickled vegetables, olives.

In addition, tart salads or pickled beets and vegetables are usually offered alongside.

Two or three sandwich types and one or two salads serve four people for lunch. Either prepare a platter with all the ingredients so diners can make their own open-faced sandwiches, or make an assortment and serve.

Serve with iced aquavit or vodka. That is important and mandatory.

Some smørrebrød ideas:

  • Smoked Trout and Apple: bread, butter, trout, apple salad
  • Shrimp and Dill: bread, avocado, shrimp, Danish cucumber salad
  • Blue Chicken: bread, blue cheese butter, sliced chicken, apple salad
  • Ham and Pickle: bread, mustard, mayonnaise, ham, sweet pickles
  • Horseradish Herring: bread, horseradish butter, pickled herring, onions, beets

Smørrebrød Combinations

Blue Cheese Butter

Mix butter and blue cheese until smooth.

Horseradish Butter

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ⅛ cup plain horseradish, drained

Mix butter and horseradish until smooth.

Anchovy Egg Spread

  • 5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. softened butter
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • ⅛ cup chopped parsley, dill or chives
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper

Mash all ingredients until smooth.

Sardines and Egg

  • 4 slices bread
  • 4 leaves lettuce
  • 4 Tbsp. Anchovy Egg Spread
  • 2 (4-oz.) cans sardines, drained
  • 4 slices onion
  • 1 pickled beet, diced

Slather 1 tablespoon egg spread on each bread slice and top with a lettuce leaf. Divide sardines equally among sandwiches. Top with onion slices and diced beet.

Roast Beef and Blue Cheese

  • 4 slices bread
  • 2 Tbsp. Blue Cheese Butter
  • 8 thin slices roast beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 small sour pickles, sliced
  • 4 slices onion
  • 2 tsp. horseradish

Spread ½ tablespoon butter on each bread slice, top with a quarter of the roast beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top each with pickle, onion and a ½ teaspoon of horseradish.

Smoked Salmon and Radish

  • 4 slices bread
  • 2 Tbsp. cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. horseradish
  • 8 slices smoked salmon
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 4 sprigs dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Spread bread slices with a ½ tablespoon each of cream cheese and horseradish. Top each with 2 slices of smoked salmon. Add slices of radish and herb sprig along with a pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle of lemon juice.

Apple Salad

  • 2 cups tart apple, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced onion
  • 3 Tbsp. oil
  • A ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients and serve.

Danish Cucumber Salad

  • 4 cups cucumbers, seeded, halved and sliced a ¼-inch thick
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Lemon, salt, and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped dill

In a bowl, toss cucumbers, salt, and lemon juice; set aside for 15-30 minutes. Drain liquid, add lemon, salt, and pepper to taste, add dill.

By Lori Ross, Southern Boating August 2019

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