Smørrebrød is the traditional Danish open-faced sandwich consisting of a piece of bread and a topping. The literal translation of the word is ‘butter’ (smør) and “bread’ (brød), which is quite an understatement for anyone who is familiar with smørrebrød.
The first time I encountered smørrebrød was when I lived in Copenhagen with my Danish husband almost a decade ago. As a Pakistani, smørrebrød does not come naturally to me. For a start, it is mostly cold (I was brought up eating hot food three times a day). Second, you are meant to eat it in small portions on a ‘lunch plate’ which is just slightly bigger than a bread plate (I prefer to fill up a full-size plate so I don’t have to keep going back for seconds, thirds, fourths…). And last, there is a definite order in which smørrebrød is to be taken, with seafood first, then salads, and finally meats (Pakistani food does well when it is all mixed up on your plate). There are even rules about which bread is supposed to go with which topping (salmon and shrimps on white bread, everything else on Danish rye bread).
It didn’t take me long to love smørrebrød, and now I really look forward to eating it when we’re visiting Denmark (yes, even the pickled herring smørrebrød!).
When we’re not in Denmark, one of the ways in which I curb my craving is by making nice fresh toppings at home. This non-mayo Danish Shrimp Salad is a favorite!
DANISH SHRIMP SALAD
(makes 2 cups)
3/4 cups creme fraiche or sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (remove seeds from dressing)
3 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves or dill leaves, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish)
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Small pre-cooked shrimps in brine, drained weight 180g (or 1&1/4 cups)
1 cup / 4oz / 100g cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
- In a bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and mix well.
- Finely dice the deseeded cucumber and add it to the dressing. Stir until evenly distributed.
- Drain the shrimps and rinse them in a colander under cold water. Shake off the excess water and quickly dab them with a kitchen towel so that they are not too wet.
- Toss the shrimps into the dressing until they are evenly coated.
- Refrigerate and serve cold on a piece of lightly toasted bread or some lettuce leaves. Garnish with tarragon or dill leaves, if desired.