Smørrebrød, or open sandwiches, are a staple of Danish cuisine. Here are two classic toppings of beef and smoked salmon with remoulade sauce. Easy and delicious!
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I am very lucky to have travelled a lot throughout my life and love going to new places both to see and experience the sights but also the food. Of course it helps growing up in Europe where other countries are not that far away, but even now we manage to get around not too badly (in fact, we're away right now - more on this trip will come in due course!).
Now that I am writing this blog, traveling takes on an extra dimension of looking for inspiration of foodie things to recreate. Although despite getting a few ideas, I have been a bit slow in sharing much from our trip to Malaysia and Denmark in the summer. In fact Denmark hasn't even had a look in, so it seemed about time to change that with these classic smørrebrød, or Danish open [faced] sandwiches as you might know them, served with Danish remoulade.
What are Danish smørrebrød (open sandwiches)?
One of the things we liked the most about these when we were in Denmark was getting a few and sharing them, so it seemed only right to give more than one option. Plus, I couldn't decide which I most wanted to make. Smørrebrød are core to Danish cuisine, being a traditional lunch option.
They are also being picked up in what is dubbed 'new Nordic' or 'new Danish' cooking with some twists on the classic toppings. We had some great meals in Denmark on our few days there, both a few smørrebrød lunches and some other tasty dishes both in restaurants and made by the friends we were visiting.
Making or sourcing rye bread
Rye bread is a core component of many meals, as you can see in these smørrebrød, but it's sadly not that easy to get hold of here, or even in the UK when I was there. Yes you can get rye bread, but not Danish-style, so for these I made my own with this recipe that I found, which worked well. My only change was using loaf pans as I didn't have the proper bread tin - I got two loaves rather than one large, and reduced the cooking time by about 15min to compensate.
I would highly recommend making or getting some Danish-style rye bread if you can for these. If you can't make/get Danish then German pumpernickel is the closest alternative, but failing that another good bread would work. My sourdough rye bread would be good, too, even if less traditional.
Remoulade: part of a love of pickles
Danish love their pickles almost as much as rye bread and most smørrebrød will see a pickle of some kind in there somewhere. Pickles are also a key component to Danish remoulade which is a classic sauce served with many smørrebrød and other dishes, especially fish.
Remoulade is kind of like a Danish tartare sauce. Recipes vary greatly, but pretty much all start with mayonnaise as a base then have some form of pickle or sweet relish in there, often some other vegetables and/or herbs and something to make it slightly yellow - usually either a little curry powder or hard boiled egg yolk. I have made my own variation on the theme as I have described below which is nice and easy to make.
How to make Danish smørrebrød (open sandwiches)
Putting together smørrebrød is really easy. Smørrebrød means buttered bread and that's the base for all versions, then you top it as you wish with anything from meat to fish to salads. I have gone for two classics here, roast beef and smoked salmon, both topped with remoulade.
In case you are interested, the roast beef version is often also topped with some crispy fried onions - these do taste great if you feel like making them but it also works well without (and is quicker), as I have here.
Other popular toppings include shrimp (often topped with quick-pickled cucumbers similar to Swedish pressgurka or simply dill and lemon), cheese and fishcakes.
While these are most typically eaten for lunch, they also make great appetizers. You can make them even more fitting by cutting the bread up a bit to make smaller bites. They are then kind of like the Danish answer to bruschetta (but the bread is better for you!). These ones have lovely contrasting colors if you are thinking about the aesthetics.
Whatever your reason to make them, smørrebrød are delicious, easy to prepare and fun to play around with different toppings. Whether that's classic ones like these or whatever you come up with. Either way, give them a try and enjoy.
Try these other Scandinavian dishes:
- Swedish cheesecake
- Salmon gravlax
- Langoustines with herbed cream
- Plus get more Scandinavian/Nordic recipes in the archives.
Danish smørrebrød (open sandwiches) with remoulade
- 4 slices Danish rye bread if available, or closest equivalent (eg pumpernickel)
- ½ tablespoon butter approx
- 8 slices smoked salmon approx, depending on size
- 8 slices roast beef approx, depending on size
For the remoulade
- ¼ cup mayonnaise 4tbsp
- 1 tablespoon cornichons finely chopped (pickled cucumber)
- 1 teaspoon capers roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon mustard Dijon
- ⅛ teaspoon curry powder
To top (optional)
- a few cornichons
- a few slices of lemon
- fresh parsley
- Lightly butter the slices of rye bread then lay the smoked salmon on half and roast beef on the the other half of the slices. If you are making appetizers, then cut the pieces of bread into approx 4 pieces each. Cut the salmon and beef accordingly to fit.
- Mix together all the ingredients for the remoulade (mayonnaise, pickled cucumbers/cornichons, capers, parsley, lemon juice, mustard and curry powder). Spoon a little on top of each slice then top with some slices of cornichon and/or lemon and parsley as you wish.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Like pickles? Try these other ideas:
- Cuban Sliders by Making Miracles
- Easy Pickled Sweet Peppers by Cherishing a Sweet Life
- Pickled Brussels Sprouts by Our Good Life
- Pickled Peppers by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Quick Pickled Beet Salad by Food Lust People Love
- Southern Fried Pickles by The Freshman Cook
- Zupa Orgokowa (Dill Pickle Soup) by A Day in the Life on the Farm