Open sandwiches (smorrebrod)

Yield: 4 servings

Measure Ingredient
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There is no doubt that Denmark's open sandwiches (Smorrebrod) are the most famous feature of the Danish kitchen. Strangely enough they are not found elsewhere, even in neighboring countries. Danish sandwiches have hundreds of variations and new ones are constantly being composed.

From the simple, "flat", four sandwiches that office workers take with them to work and eat at their desks accompanied by a bottle of milk, they range to the gloriously colored "high" compositions, so generous that three are enough for a meal, eaten at restaurants. With the latter, piled high with good things, we drink Danish beer, which is exported to nearly every country in the world. With Smorrebrod too we drink Danish snaps, a clear, innocent-looking fluid to be treated with respect.

Though few really enjoy the taste, it has the power to make you feel happier, to loosen your tongue, to banish your inhibitions and to make social occasions an unqualified success.

Recipes for some typical Danish sandwiches follow. In Denmark we usually make them with dark rye bread. The bread should be made with whole grain and should be as firm as possible, so that the slices can be quite thin. Also white bread can be used, but it should be with a heavy texture and it may be toasted. Fish is usually the starter and from there one goes to the meat and salad. Almost inevitably Danes wind up the smorrebrod meal with a piece of buttered white bread on which a good cheese has been placed.

FINE PICKLED HERRINGS: (Fine marinade Sild) Clean, skin and bone six large salt herrings and soak them overnight in milk. Make a dressing of ¼ cup tarragon vinegar and ¼ cup ordinary vinegar sweetened with ½ cup sugar. Add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped cooked carrot, two chopped pickled gherkins and 1 cup tomato ketchup and season with 10 whole cloves and 10 whole peppercorns. Let the dressing stand overnight.

Rinse the herrings, cut in slices and let them stand in the dressing for 24 hours before serving.

Drain the herring pieces well before putting them on buttered bread, otherwise it might become soggy. Decorate with some of the onion from the dressing.

EGGS AND HERRINGS: (Aeg og Sild) Spread slices of hard boiled egg on buttered bread and place one or more boned herrings lengthwise on the egg. Decorate with cress.

CHOPPED EGG AND HERRING: (Hakket Aeg og Sild) Skin and bone two smoked herrings carefully. Boil two eggs until hard and put in a glass or large cup together with the herrings. Run a sharp knife quickly from side to side until the ingredients are finely chopped and thoroughly mixed. Press the mixture on to buttered bread and top with cress. Makes 4 sandwiches.

SMOKED HERRINGS AND EGG YOLKS: (Roget Sild med Aeggeblomme) Butter the bread and top with long, cleaned fillets of smoked herrings.

Make a cavity in the center of the fillets with your fingers, circle it with a ring of raw onion, and put a raw egg yolk in it. Pile raw onions or chopped radishes at both ends of the yolk.

From "Danish Cookery" by Suzanne, Andr. Fred. Host & Son, Copenhagen, 1957.

Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; March 9 1993.

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